LAKELAND – Imagine you’re in comfortably situated in your bedroom. You turn on the television and click a button on the remote. Then something surprising happens – actually, it’s startling, and shocking. What you see on that television set is … yourself.
There you are, watching a live video image of yourself in your bedroom. And it dawns on you then: there’s a camera hidden somewhere in your room … and it’s watching you.
If it sounds like a scene from a dark and paranoid television show like “The X-Files” or “Twin Peaks,” it was actually the scary reality this week for one woman in Lakeland, and it led to the arrest of the man who had been secretly recording the 23-year-old woman without her knowledge — or permission.
On Thursday, Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputies got an arrest warrant for Armando Perez, 35, of 7482 Briarbay Loop in Lakeland. He was found staying with friends in Apopka, taken into customer by the Apopka Police, and now sits in the Orange County Jail.
He faces 15 counts of video voyeurism, a class 3 felony.
Carrie E. Horstman, public information officer for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, noted in her report that the evidence against Perez is strong, since he had videos on his personal computer that show he had been secretly videotaping the victim in her bedroom for five months, and had plenty of naked images of the woman.
“Armando Perez owns the personal computer attached to the cameras,” Horstman wrote. “Detectives located 15 separate video files dating back to May 15, 2014. The files contain videos of the victim dressing and undressing and privately exposing her body.”
On Thursday, the woman – who had been renting the room from Perez — contacted the Polk County Sheriff’s Office after she discovered the camera that had secretly been set up in her bedroom.
“The victim was turning on a television when she pushed a button on the remote control that changed the television input to ‘computer,.’ “ Horstman wrote in her report. “At that time, the victim saw a live image of her own bedroom on the television”
Polk County Computer Crimes detectives went to the home, and located and dismantled what Horstman called an “extensive hidden video recording system” in the bedroom, connected to a DVR and personal computer.
Two pinhole cameras had been set up in the woman’s bedroom, one hidden in a smoke detector, and the other in a cable access plate.
Earlier this year, Florida lawmakers responded to similar arrests and voted to join the 16 other states that had made video voyeurism a felony. The new law took effect in July, and the bill’s sponsor, former state Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico, said it was an attempt to ensure the law catches up with advances in technology. That includes sophisticated cellphone cameras that can more easily record something secretly and discreetly — leaving behind victims who never knew they had been videotaped.
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