Beware of spy cameras (Video)

WHEN the popular 60s TV series hit the screens, its famous catchphrase was "Smile you're on candid camera!"

Of course the unsuspecting victims were ultimately told they were recorded doing the silly things.

Everyone went away happy after a good laugh.

But today, there are more sinister types of "candid cameras" that leave their victims feeling invaded, traumatised and humiliated after falling prey to voyeurs.

The cameras these days come in various shapes and sizes and blend in with the surroundings, so much so the suspicion of a potential victim is rarely aroused until it is too late.

Private investigator Vincent Ho, 49, told theSun that these modern gadgets mounted in discreet locations are hard to discern.

"These spy cameras are tremendously modern with wireless connection. They are available in different forms, such as lighters, sockets, cigarette packs and car keys," he said.

Explaining how it works, Ho said voyeurs would have a spy camera application installed in their smartphone.

He said the camera in the spy device is the size of a pinhole that can record hours upon hours of footage.

By inserting the SIM card and SD memory card from the spy camera into their mobile phones, voyeurs can view the intimate footage of their victims.

Ho said the public, especially women, should be extra cautious and vigilant of their surroundings.

During an interview with theSun, MCA Public Services and Complaints Department head Datuk Seri Michael Chong said he received eight cases involving peeping toms last year.

He said that in most of the cases, the voyeurs are usually boyfriends, friends, landlords and even strangers.

In one case in Cheras, the landlord stored a power cable cord in the bathtub to peep on six women tenants.

"One day, one of the tenants was showering when she dropped a bar of soap in the bathtub. When she bent to pick it up, she discovered a wiring, which was found to be connected to the owner's television set," he said.

In a recent case reported on Jan 7, two women discovered that their college mate had been secretly filming them while they showered, after he invited them to stay in his home in Sibu during a group holiday.

In the incident, one of the victims noticed a black ball pen in a toothbrush holder which turned out to be a hidden camera.

Chong also advised business owners, especially hotel operators, to inspect their premises with an infrared detector from time to time to detect spy cameras.

" I will expose the trade name if such a case happens. Even if the perpetrators are the employees, " he added.

Chong also lamented that peeping toms get off lightly when brought to court.

" They get away with a light fine, this is unfair to the victims. Whipping should be imposed to deter such persons from committing these acts.

To address this, the Bar Council's criminal law committee co-chairperson, Ravi Nekoo, said a specific law on voyeurism is necessary.

"The current laws on voyeurism are too general. A specific law is more effective," he said, adding that the legislature must be sensitive to the needs of society.

"In England, voyeurism became an offence under the Sexual Offences Act 2003. It came into force in 2004," he said.

If found guilty, the offender will be punished with imprisonment of up to two years and placed on the Violent and Sexual Offenders' Register.

Ravi said in England, the offence of voyeurism is committed when a person, for the purpose of sexual gratification for himself or others, uses an equipment to observe another person doing a private act without the person's knowledge and consent.

Under the Malaysian Penal Code, it is an offence to commit criminal trespass, when a person enters into a property to annoy, insult or intimidate someone.

This is an offence under Section 441 of the Penal Code and punishable under Section 447 with imprisonment of up to three months or a fine of up to RM1,000.

Are you being spied on?

EVER feel like the mirror you are standing in front of is "looking back" at you?

Here are a few things you can do to check if you may be a victim of a voyeur.

Place the tip of your fingernail against the reflective surface. If there is a gap between your fingernail and the image of the nail, the mirror is genuine.

However, if your fingernail directly touches the image of your nail, it is a two-way mirror and there is a possibility that someone is watching you undress from behind the mirror, or that you are being recorded by a video device placed there.

There is no harm in doing this simple test to safeguard your privacy, modesty and even safety.

You may also examine the general area (whether it is a toilet, changing room, examination room or bedroom).

Meticulously check the walls, surrounding items such as flower pots, light bulbs, power sockets, fixed ashtray, dustbin, or any place where pinhole cameras can be placed.

Look for wires that do not seem to go anywhere, such as an appliance or other dubious objects (a case recently reported involved a pen-shaped recording device placed in a toothbrush holder in a bathroom).

A practical way to do a "bug sweep" is to switch off the lights and use a flashlight or a lit candle to sweep the room and pay attention to any small glimmers that reflect back at you.

On a more sophisticated level, a hidden camera detector is a perfect tool for anyone worried about being recorded without their consent.

At the push of a button, you can scan an entire room in seconds, letting you know for sure if you are being watched or recorded.

Such devices are available from online or electronic stores.