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Man arrested in connection to hidden cameras found at tanning salon

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published February 24, 2020

 Shelby Township police announced Feb. 21 that they had arrested a 38-year-old Macomb Township man in connection to hidden cameras found a week earlier in some tanning rooms at Chili Pepper’s Tanning on Van Dyke Avenue.

Shelby Township police announced Feb. 21 that they had arrested a 38-year-old Macomb Township man in connection to hidden cameras found a week earlier in some tanning rooms at Chili Pepper’s Tanning on Van Dyke Avenue.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Shelby Township police announced late on Feb. 21 that they had arrested a 38-year-old man from Macomb Township in connection with three hidden cameras that were found in tanning rooms at a tanning salon in Shelby Township.

At approximately 7:40 p.m. Feb. 14, an off-duty officer was visiting Chili Pepper’s Tanning in Shelby Township, located at 55172 Van Dyke Ave., when the officer found a small camera hidden in a hole in the wall of a tanning room that the officer was going to use.

According to police, the hole in the wall appeared to have a lens behind it, and the officer began to investigate.

After further investigation, police found that the camera was arranged so that it would have a view up a user’s legs while the user was lying down.

Since the incident, all Chili Pepper’s Tanning salons have been searched for any other possible hidden cameras.

“Chili Pepper’s has searched all other … locations for any additional cameras. None were found,” said Shelby Township Police Lt. Patrick Barnard in an email.

The business then reopened, as the investigation continued.

Charise Davis, the vice president of Chili Pepper’s Tanning, said the business is disgusted with whoever installed the cameras in the salon, and Davis said that the business was working closely with police to find who was responsible.

“We would like to say that we are shocked and disgusted that something like this could even happen. We are doing everything we can and working closely with the Shelby Township police to catch the person responsible for this as soon as possible,” Davis said in an email prior to the announcement of the arrest.

Chili Pepper’s Tanning hired a professional to investigate all of its locations for any other possible hidden cameras.

“The day after the discovery, we hired a private investigator to do a sweep of all 22 Chili Pepper’s Tanning locations, and they were all deemed clear and free of any cameras or recording devices. As the privacy and safety of our employees and customers is of our utmost concern, we will continue to do this as a part of normal business practice moving forward. Unfortunately, that is the world we live in today,” said Davis.

The tanning salon had also offered a reward to find the suspect or suspects.

“I know that the detectives have had several interviews and are hopefully narrowing the list down to the person responsible. We have offered a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of the person responsible for this horrific act,” Davis said in the email prior to the arrest.

According to police, the person responsible could face several charges, including “installation, placement, or use of a device for observing, recording, transmitting, photographing or eavesdropping in a private place” (a two-year felony) and “capturing, distributing (an) image of unclothed person (a five-year felony),” said Barnard.

Police executed a search warrant and were able to narrow the search down to the suspect who was arrested Feb. 21.

Barnard offered advice for those who might use public places that involve changing clothes or tanning.

“If you are in a room of a business, whether it be a changing room or a tanning salon, take a moment to look around and see if there are any noticeable holes in the wall or anything else that looks out of place. This is how these cameras were discovered,” said Barnard.

Police are asking anyone with more information to call the department at (586) 731-2121.

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