Neighbor accused of planting secret cameras had 20TB of images, multiple victims

Austin

Police are now searching for additional victims as they comb through more than 1 million images

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A man accused of planting a recording device in a neighbor’s bathroom had 20 terabytes of data, more than 1 million images and multiple victims, according to the Austin Police Department. Police are searching for additional victims.

Austin police were called to Champion Drive just south of Anderson Mill on March 4. Police met with the caller who told them she discovered a strange device behind her bathroom mirror.

Due to the massive amount of evidence, police say it has taken months to discover the two victims and are currently searching for more. Anyone who might think they’re a victim of Sagues or have information about the case is asked to contact the Austin Police Department at (512) 974-6941.

She said she was home with construction crews all day as they were remodeling the downstairs bathroom. During construction, she said she found a cut-out hole behind the bathroom mirror and an unknown electronic device with a wireless antenna plugged into a hidden electrical socket. The victim said she did not know what the device was for so she let it be, but took pictures.

According to the victim, a few hours after the device was discovered, her home surveillance camera captured a man wearing a green hoodie, khaki pants and dark gloves entering the home through an unlocked back door.

The video showed the suspect head straight for the downstairs bathroom, then leave while holding what appeared to be the unknown electronic device.

After reviewing the footage, police identified the suspect as 50-year-old Michael Sagues who lives next door to the victims.

Investigators say Sagues’ property line is 25 feet away from the spot where the device was discovered.

According to police, after reviewing the photos, the device was determined to be a Phylink brand covert wireless camera. They said this brand of camera is capable of capturing video, audio and can be accessed through a local network.

Investigators said this type of camera was discontinued in January 2015. A search of Amazon’s records was conducted for anyone who purchased the particular brand of camera in Austin.

A total of 18 shipments for the camera were made to Austin, two of them under the name Michael Sagues. Both orders were shipped to Sagues’ address on Champion Drive.

“We do know that the earliest known purchase date for the type of cameras that were located was in 2017,” said Detective Christophe Wood.

Police searched Sagues’ home and found clothing matching the outfit worn by the suspect seen in the surveillance footage. Officers also found a server with two large multi-terabyte hard drives. The server contained digital images of the victims’ homes as well as both of them undressing.

Officials say they discovered Sagues had about 20 terabytes of files or more than 1 million images. As they went through the images, they discovered a second victim’s images in a different bathroom.

Assistant Chief Jennifer Stephenson said the investigation is ongoing as detective comb through the images. “If we do identify other victims through that review then they will immediately be notified,” she said.

Sagues was arrested on a charge of burglary of a habitation with the intent to commit invasive visual recording.

Door-to-door

Several of Sagues’ neighbors said police have been going door-to-door, attempting to find anyone else who might have been victimized.

One woman told KXAN detectives asked for permission to enter her home on Friday to look for cameras behind her bathroom mirrors.

Officials said they are searching a 400 foot perimeter from Sagues’ home because that is likely the farthest capability a WiFi signal can feasibly travel.

Others neighbors are doing their own assessments within their homes. Martin Gonzalez has lived in the same home down the street from Sagues for 42 years. He said he has added extra security measures over the years to keep him and his wife safe.

“When somebody does that, you feel violated. You feel like they invaded your property. They invaded your personal closest things to you,” Gonzalez said. “Can you imagine someone filming you while you’re taking a bath in your bathroom? It’s ridiculous.”

Gonzalez said he didn’t know Sagues very well. Other’s neighbors agreed. They said he moved in within the last two years and he was rarely seen out in public. There was no answer when KXAN reporters knocked at his door.

While the mounting evidence is hard to wrap their heads around, neighbors say they still feel confident their streets are safe.

We feel very safe in our home. We get a long with our neighbors and there’s not a lot that happens here,” Gonzalez said.

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