Updated: October 10, 2019 10:17 AM
An Elk River man admitted to placing hidden cameras, disguised as utility type boxes, in dressing rooms at Mall of America to watch and record customers undressing, according to a Bloomington Police Department affidavit.
The court document said four GoPro cameras were found mounted to the walls inside fitting rooms in Hollister and Forever 21 stores at MOA between March and July this year.
A Bloomington Police detective stated in the search warrant application that the stores "have a customer base that primarily consist of teenage females and children." It also states the cameras were used to remotely record people as they undressed and changed clothes, and on two occasions, a fake shelf was mounted on the fitting room walls at waist height with the cameras under them so they wouldn't be seen unless someone purposely bent over to look under the shelves.
The warrant also confirmed that Maplewood police have been investigating a report of a similar suspicious incident at a Victoria's Secret store in Maplewood Mall.
On Sept. 28, a store manager at Forever 21 at MOA saw a man enter one of their fitting rooms and recognized him as a suspect from a previous incident.. The manager called 911 and reported the man, and Bloomington police responded to the store and waited outside the fitting room.
The man, identified as 41-year-old Trevor Alan Nielson, was in the fitting room for nearly an hour before he came out. Investigators questioned and arrested Nielson, while discovering a hidden camera in one fitting room two doors down from the one he was in. Police learned Nielson placed the camera in that fitting room and went into another fitting room to watch and record customers undressing on his phone.
In a statement to police, Nielson admitted to placing the hidden cameras in the MOA dressing rooms, stating that he did it for "the thrill." Nielson admitted to police he did that approximately 10 times at Mall of America and other malls around the metro, the affidavit states.
Nielson also allegedly told police he knew some of the people he watched were possibly children. Plus, he acknowledged he uploaded hundreds of videos and pictures to his laptop, which he kept at home in Elk River. What's more, he admitted to secretly recording his girlfriend and her 15-year-old daughter in the bathroom and shower at his home.
Earlier this year, a similar situation happened to Sam Madison at a rental property.
"They didn't tell me there was a camera in the living room recording footage, this is increasingly happening more."
Madison felt violated and motivated. He set out to protect the privacy of other Minnesotans and started a business, based in Minneapolis, called Sweep Squad. Madison has specialized high-tech equipment, using RF, Thermal, UV and other methods to do technical inspections of homes, businesses, dorms, rental properties, yoga studios. Post-inspection, Sweep Squad installs a sign to certify the private spaces are camera free. So far, he's done more than 50 locations.
"Customers are reassured, we believe only you get to decide who sees you naked," he said.
Nielson has been arrested, not charged. Bloomington police are asking around with other agencies to see if similar reports from potential victims exists.
If you or someone you know thinks you might've been recorded in a fitting room, please call 952-563-4994.
A reminder the number is not to report in-progress calls or a need for immediate police service.
KSTP & Beth McDonough
Updated: October 10, 2019 10:17 AM
Published: October 09, 2019 12:00 AM
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