Published: 10:00, 29 June 2017
Unsuspecting customers at Maidstone's biggest bookshop have become the latest victims of the town's toilet pervert.
A hidden camera was discovered in the unisex toilet at Waterstone's in Fremlin walk, a week after a similar device was found in facilities in the Broadway Shopping Centre.
And a third camera was also discovered in Costa in King Street in May, but details have only just been released by police.
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The Waterstone's camera was discovered during the store's busiest trading period but it is unclear how long it had been there for, or how many people may have been secretly recorded.
It is also unknown what kind of camera was placed in the toilet but the item is currently being examined by police.
It's understood the item was intact and detectives are hoping to glean valuable evidence to help them track down the culprit.
All three toilets where devices have been found so far are unisex cubicles.
Other town centre businesses have been advised to check their own facilities.
A police spokesman said: “We were called at 12.20pm on Saturday to a report of a concealed camera being found in toilets in a shopping centre in Maidstone.
“Officers are investigating this incident and would urge anyone who finds suspicious items to report them by calling Kent Police on 101.”
Anyone concerned they may have been captured on one of the devices can contact the police.
News of the latest discovery has shocked and disgusted shoppers.
Judith Bishop, from Old Tovil, said: “It is the sort of thing a pervert would do. What do they get out of doing it? It has to be somebody of a sick mind.”
The 69-year-old added: “Technology should be put to good use in places such as hospitals to help people and not to this sort of sick use.”
Factory worker Robert Dean suggested it could be difficult to notice any cameras given how small they are or how they are disguised.
The 62-year-old, from Maidstone, said: “I’m not surprised to be honest in today’s society. It isn’t the first time.
“At the end of the day, if people need to use the toilet then they are going to use it. If you can’t see the camera then there is no real way of knowing it is there.
“You don’t know what they do with the footage. They might sell it online. Obviously it is a criminal matter.”
Lloyd Wright, centre manager at Fremlin Walk, said customers' safety was always a priority and they were working with police.
A Costa spokesman said: “We are aware of this issue in the Maidstone area and continue to support Kent Police with their investigations.
"Our stores' teams have been asked to remain vigilant whilst the investigation continues."
Waterstones has been contacted for comment.
The first hidden camera found in a Maidstone toilet was discovered by security guard Adedeji Adebanwo.
He spotted the device when he went to use the facilities himself at the Broadway Shopping Centre on Thursday, June 15.
Mr Adebanwo first thought he had found an air freshener before realising it was something more sinister and reported the shocking incident to police the same day.
The camera, originally disguised as a clothes hook, had been modified to look more inconspicuous while its USB slot and SD card remained hidden.
Upon closer inspection, Mr Adebanwo found an on switch and a flashing light believed to be a motion detector to trigger filming.
It was stuck on the tiled wall within the unisex toilets serving Matalan and Lidl customers. The same toilet also caters for disabled users.
"Technology should be put to good use in places such as hospitals to help people and not to this sort of sick use" - Judith Bishop
A spokesman for LJJ, the property manager, said: “The matter has been reported to the police and we are helping them with their inquires.”
These cameras, made to look like coat hooks, are easily available from eBay and Amazon and cost just £10.
Our sister paper the Kent Messenger ordered one from Amazon for £9.99 and it was delivered the next day.
The ease at which these are bought is worrying, with some more expensive models coming equipped with an HD camera.
On the reverse of the device is an on and off switch next to a USB port while an SD card slots into the bottom of it.
Two hooks are on the front with a tiny hole for the camera and a motion detector to stop round-the-clock recording.
Applying pressure to the front of the unit switches it on with a blue light confirming it is powered up and ready to capture footage of unsuspecting members of the public.
Sticky back plastic is then used to apply the seedy device to any wall or door.
The cameras are also marketed on various websites as being used to catch “naughty nannies” or "thieving carers”.
Voyeurism is a psychosexual disorder causing an individual to gain sexual pleasure from looking at the naked bodies and genitals of another person or observing sex acts in secret.
Those taking part in voyeurism get a kick out of spying on a stranger by using secret recording equipment, peep holes or even mobile phones.
There is no scientific reason behind the origins of voyeurism or why somebody becomes a voyeur.
However, the majority of experts believe the behaviour is a result of an initially random or accidental case of voyeurism and it being repeated.
Voyeurs are typically men although there are cases of women taking part in watching people without consent.
Voyeurism, under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, only became a criminal offence in April 2014.
Anybody who is found to have committed an offence of voyeurism can be dealt with by way of either a fine or they can be jailed.
The maximum prison sentence for a convicted voyeur is two years depending on the amount of harm and culpability.
More by this authorGuy Bell
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