A 44-year-old man turned himself in Monday for being the "person of interest" sought for a spy camera being found hidden in a Brea Starbucks restroom, although he has not yet been linked to similar recent crime in his city of residence, La Habra.
A female customer of the Starbucks at 101 W. Imperial Hwy. was in the unisex restroom around 11 p.m. Friday when she found a four-inch long device--about the size of a marking pen--hidden behind a bracket. She pulled it out and called police.
Orange County Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory investigators confirmed it's a video camera that recorded images of men and women using the restroom, according to Brea Police Lt. Darrin Devereux, who added it is not known how long the device had been there. Devereux's agency on Monday posted images on its Twitter and Facebook pages of the spy camera, its hiding place and a "person of interest" seen loitering outside the coffeehouse: a dark-haired man wearing a black shirt with a white stripe.
After intense local television coverage Monday morning, a Starbucks spokesman emailed a statement to KTLA that afternoon that said, "We take our obligation to provide a safe environment for our customers and partners (employees) very seriously. As a part of regular store operations, we monitor the seating areas and restrooms in our stores on a regular basis to identify potential safety or security concerns."
Hours later, Melcher Carrilloalvarado walked into the Brea police station to ask why the department had issued photos of him to the news media in connection with the spy camera, Devereux said.
The lieutenant claims Carrilloalvarado at first denied having any involvement with planting the device, but "later he admitted to investigators he placed the camera in the restroom." With the suspect's consent, police went to his home and seized several computers, Devereux said.
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So far, seven adult women have been identified as victims, which explains why Carrilloalvarado given a notice to appear in court on seven misdemeanor counts after he was booked. It's a misdemeanor in California to secretly record adults in a state of undress.
However, if any minors in a similar state turn up in Carrilloalvarado's video collection, he could face a felony. He also has not been officially tied to the discovery of a hidden camera two weeks ago in a Del Taco restroom in La Habra.
Anyone with information on the Brea case or who believes they may have been captured on the video is asked to email Detective Irene Crews at firstname.lastname@example.org. Anonymous tips may be left with Orange County Crime Stoppers at 855.847.6227 (855-TIP-OCCS), via occrimestoppers.org or by texting to 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S) from a cell phone. (All text messages should begin with the letters "OCCS".)