Home Local News Voyeur attempt foiled by bad tape job

Voyeur attempt foiled by bad tape job

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Lea County Sheriff Office investigates, no arrest made

A maintenance employee of a local Hobbs business was suspected of being a “peeping tom” after video footage was found on his cell phone.

Footage was found of him moving the phone to various areas in an employee restroom in order to film whomever used the restroom.

On Oct. 11, Lea County Sheriff’s deputies were called to the 2800 block of South Eunice Highway in reference to the incident.

Another employee of the ness reported having found a cell phone, that later was determined to belong to the maintenance employee, taped to the bathroom while it was recording. The employee told Lea County Communications Authority dispatch she believed it belonged to another employee.

When deputies arrived at the business they made contact with the employee who found the phone, and stated she saw the maintenance employee go into the restroom and come out a short time later. She stated while she was in a different room when she heard something fall to the floor and went to check it out, “but everything was fine.”

The employee said she finished performing her job duties and went to the restroom, where she found a phone on the toilet seat lid facing up, still on record. She also said the cell phone had duct tape on it and believed the phone had been taped to the ceiling — where it fell off.

According to the LCSO incident report, the employee, who found the phone, stepped out of the restroom and told a coworker what she found. She and that coworker went into the restroom together and recorded on the coworker’s phone as they walked into the restroom to doccument the phone found on the toilet seat was in fact recording.

“He (the coworker) went into the restroom and videoed how it was,” the employee who initially found the phone told the Hobbs News-Sun. “The phone had locked and so we touched the screen to see if we could open it again and we saw that it was the maintenance guy’s phone. We freaked out.”

According to the LCSO report, the screen saver on the phone was of the maintenance employee and his girlfriend, which is how the employees were able to identify who’s phone it was.

Deputies asked the employee if the restroom was for both men and women and the employee stated it’s the restroom all of the employees use.

The two employees showed deputies the video they recorded on the coworker’s cell phone of the cell phone in the restroom which revealed 13 minutes and 42 seconds of video of the employees walking into the restroom, hitting stop on the cell phone while it was recording and the supervisor taking possession of the cell phone where she put it into a Ziploc bag.

“(Deputies) wanted to see the restrooms and that’s when the maintenance guy came in and went straight to the restroom in the back,” the employee told the News-Sun. “He went right in there and the deputies waited for him. It took about 15 minutes and I’m sure he was freaking out because he couldn’t find the phone. Once he came out they followed him outside and asked him a couple of questions. He confessed very easy and he told them it was his phone. He said he doesn’t know why he does those things and he has a problem. The deputies came in and told us and they let him go.”

According to the LCSO report, deputies asked the maintenance employee if the cell phone was his, to which he stated “yes.”

Deputies asked the maintenance employee why he had taped his phone inside the restroom. He responded it was a dumb idea and wasn’t sure why he did it — he just wanted to record.

The maintenance employee gave deputies consent to search the phone and deputies reportedly did not see anyone from that morning in the restroom. The only thing recorded was the toilet seat and the phone slowly starting to fall down.

The second and third videos on the phone shows the employee recording himself attempting to tape the phone in different parts of the restroom, to see if it would stick with the duct tape. Those videos were the only videos deputies found on the cell phone.

“(The maintenance employee) gave limited consent for deputies to inspect the contents of the recording that was made,” the LCSO report states. “(The maintenance employee) unlocked the cellular phone using a passcode and handed the cellular phone to me. I looked through three different recordings which depicted (the maintenance employee) placing the cellular phone in a cabinet right above the toilet seat and closing the cabinet door, and one of him placing the cellular phone on top of the cabinet while the camera faced towards the toilet. (The maintenance employee) explained these were test recordings attempting to identify a location where he could obtain the footage he wanted.”

Deputies questioned the maintenance employee who stated he had been working at the business for about two months. He was asked what he was doing prior to taping the phone and what made him think of doing that. The maintenance employee said he was “doing his usual work duties” and he “then just thought of going to the restroom and doing it.”

The maintenance employee said he wasn’t sure why he did it, he just did.

He was asked if he recorded any other times prior to that day and he said “no” — that this was the first time.

“(The maintenance employee) stated it was dumb and that he maybe needs help,” the LCSO report states. “(The maintenance employee) did not specify as to attempting to target a certain person or why he would want that type of footage. (The maintenance employee) only stated it was just something he did for no reason.”

According to the report, deputies contacted investigators and explained the incident to them. Investigators were told no one was actually recorded on the phone because the phone fell before anyone could be recorded.

Investigators made contact with the assistant district attorney who stated they will not prosecute on the charge of voyeurism due to no one actually being recorded.

After the assistant D.A. declined to pursue charges, deputies contacted the maintenance employee and asked him to delete the video of the recordings in front of them, and he deleted the recordings. The maintenance employee then showed the deputies he had no other recordings on his cell phone and they returned the phone back to him.

Deputies issued a criminal trespass to the employee and explained he was no longer allowed at the business.

The Hobbs News-Sun contacted Fifth Judicial District attorney Dianna Luce about the incident, and she explained, “Voyeurism requires recording/ viewing intimate parts” and “no other crime could be charged,” despite there being incriminating evidence and an admission from the alleged suspect.

When asked, “Why wouldn’t, based on the information the deputies had, it not constitute a search of the employee’s electronic devices at his home?” Luce responded, “No further investigation was done.”

When asked, “From your (the District Attorney’s) standpoint, wouldn’t something like this typically warrant further investigation?” Luce responded, “There has to be a basis to search further.”

The LCSO was also contacted about the incident and Undersheriff Michael Walker stated, “To the best of (my) knowledge, he had voluntarily allowed deputies to view the phone and when they reviewed the videos and pictures and they found nothing that was unlawful. That’s as far as they went on it.

“I’ll tell you we had the same questions you did as an administrative staff when we learned about this incident and we have since gone through additional training with the deputies that were involved to educate them more on how that law should be interpreted and the steps that should be conducted if anything future were to occur.”

Other employees at the business thought the maintenance employee at times came off “as being creepy.”

“We would tell him good morning and he would just stare at us,” the employee who found the phone said. “He was just off, always quiet.”

She believes this was not his first time doing this, she said, and believes he has done this before based on statements he made to deputies.

“After he told the deputies he has a problem we all thought what does that insinuate,” the employee who found the phone said. “Has he done this before in other places? To have a problem you have to do something multiple times. I don’t understand.”

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