May 23, 2015


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Caution at pools after spy-cam

City inspects sites amid flap

  A Winnipeg swimming teacher showered in her bathing suit and changed at home on Sunday, a day after finding a miniature camera in a city pool change room that had captured her naked on video.

 The 26-year-old woman, who requested anonymity, returned to teach some private lessons at the Seven Oaks Pool Sunday, but it was anything but business as usual.

 A still image from a video shot with a pen containing a video camera at the Seven Oaks Pool.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

A still image from a video shot with a pen containing a video camera at the Seven Oaks Pool. Photo Store

 "I had my eyes open (looking for cameras) the whole time. My co-workers and I were looking around the change room before I even got in the shower. We’re all freaked out that somebody who we work with would actually do that," the woman said.

 Her shocking discovery of the camera Saturday had city staff scrambling Sunday to inspect all municipal swimming facilities — and declare them free of similar spy-cams.

 The woman found the miniature camera, which looks like a pen, sticking out of the disposal box for feminine hygiene products in the women’s staff change room on Saturday shortly after teaching lessons. It was warm when she touched it and after noticing a lens, she opened it up to find a USB port inside. She popped the USB into the computer at Seven Oaks’ front desk and realized she — and possibly others — had been spied on.

 A quick Internet search found the device, called a spy-cam video pen camera, has a two-hour rechargeable battery and can capture hours of video with four gigabytes of storage. The tiny lens is located at the top of the pen clip.

 A Winnipeg police officer met with the swimming teacher and her father Sunday afternoon. Const. Jason Michalyshen said the incident could potentially result in a charge of voyeurism.

 "We don’t know all the circumstances, but that’s a possibility," he said. "With regard to personal privacy, we’re going to examine everything very carefully. If somebody needs to be held accountable, we’ll certainly do that as soon as possible. We’ll seize anything that is of concern and we’ll move forward to identify anybody responsible," he said.

 The woman’s father said police officers drove his daughter home from the pool after teaching Sunday morning.

 "She’s really rattled. We don’t know where the (video) has been. It could ruin the poor kid for a while. She’s going into her final exams for her third year of nursing," he said.

 After every City of Winnipeg pool was inspected, no other devices were found in change rooms for visitors or staff, said city council protection chairwoman Paula Havixbeck (Charleswood-Tuxedo).

 "We can assure people this isn’t happening."

 The city’s human resources officials have joined police in investigating the incident, Havixbeck said.

 "As a result, I can’t say much more about it. But we do need to think about our community centres because of (potential abuses) of new technology," she said.

 Michalyshen said this type of incident is relatively rare in Winnipeg.

 "We’re fully aware of the types of technology that are out there. Usually, it can be used for positive things. When it’s allegedly used for something very negative and when somebody’s personal privacy is being breached and compromised, it’s concerning. We need to deal with it quickly. We want all members of the public to be safe in whatever environment they’re in," he said.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

 

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