A smoke detector in a 25-year-old Kansas City woman’s apartment above a tattoo parlor apparently was detecting more than just smoke.
A friend visiting her apartment noticed it looked just like one from the box of spy cameras disguised as smoke detectors he had seen in the basement of the business where they both worked: Freaks Tattoo at 4101 Troost Ave.
The woman called police Saturday, unleashing an investigation that revealed her apartment was rigged with 11 cameras, including four in her bathroom, recording her every move.
Officers first examined the detector in the kitchen and realized it would not open to replace a battery like a normal smoke detector. Officers removed the detector from the ceiling and found it was connected to three wires.
Police found three similar detectors in the living room, hallway and the victim’s bedroom. The victim’s roommate’s room had a normal smoke detector.
Officers found a bundle of wires in the victim’s closet leading into a gray pipe that extended down through the tattoo parlor and into the basement to some shelves. When officers moved boxes on the shelves, they found a computer monitor, which revealed seven video screens showing the interior of the victim’s apartment.
Four of the screens were black; those were from the smoke detectors that police had removed. The other screens led police to find three cameras hidden behind pinholes in the victim’s bedroom. They also found two cameras hidden in the sink vanity’s decorative trim, focused on the toilet. Two cameras concealed in the wall provided a view of the shower.
The victim told police she had lived in the apartment since last summer. She said her landlord had asked her out and propositioned her several times, which she declined.
The victim told police her 47-year-old landlord, who is also her boss, had remodeled her bathroom in October when she was out of town.
When reached by The Star on Wednesday, the victim said she had moved out of the apartment, was staying with friends and was trying to find a new place to live. She declined to comment further.
Police confiscated the cameras and computer and were reviewing them for evidence. Police had made no arrests.
The incident marked the fourth time in four months that police in the metropolitan area had discovered hidden cameras in a home or workplace.
“I’m sure it’s a lot more frequent than we know,” said Sgt. Lionel Colon of the sex crimes squad.