Coffee Shop Installs Fake Security Camera In Bathroom

A coffee shop in Montreal has removed a “dud” security camera from its bathroom after news of it hit the local papers. Corporate headquarters asked the franchise owner to take it down, and apologized/avoided blame in a press release that said they were “not consulted in advance.” The franchise owner had installed it as a sort of junkie scarecrow, to frighten away heroin users who were leaving dirty needles in the bathroom stall.

Privacy advocates are upset about the whole thing and considering legal action, but since the camera was a “non-working decoy” it will be hard to argue that any personal data was actually being recorded.

“There isn’t any real material difference between a fake camera and a real camera,” he said. “Whether they’re real or fake, you still have the feeling of being watched.”

One patron of the Second Cup in question appeared to be more sympathetic with the owner’s intentions.

“I am conscious the owner has to do something about the problem,” said Steve Beshwaty as he enjoyed a cup of coffee.

“I don’t find it particularly appealing to have a camera in the bathroom, but I understand the owner. ”

(Thanks to Kim!)

“Second Cup store removes bathroom surveillance cam” [CTV]
(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. serreca says:

    But if you don’t have anything to hide, you have nothing to worry about! Right?!


  2. protest says:

    as much as i agree i would be all kinds of freaked out if i saw a camera in a bathroom, the people that are bitching are the same people who would sue if they stuck themselves with a leftover needle.
    what the owner should do is rent a cop car and leave it sitting right in front of his shop, it’s like a driveable junkie-repellant.

  3. LadyCarolineLamb says:

    Give me a BREAK… what a sue-crazy world we live in! Yeah, I’d be creeped out too if I saw a camera in the bathroom…but then I would immediately call the police to investigate, it would be found to be a fake, and they tell him to back off with it. Big deal. If it were a REAL camera it would be another story, but to take it to the press and anti-piracy groups? Unreal. This poor guy has obviously had problems with junkies in the bathroom and made a dumb decision on how to solve it. Dumb does not always equal criminal or big payday. What a bunch of babies

  4. Erskine says:

    “Dumb does not always equal criminal or big payday. What a bunch of babies”

    That’s the logic behind the TSA and DHS. If it only infringes what some would consider “only a little bit” of what’s left of our privacy – then it’s ok.

  5. Install UV lights in the bathroom. One of the european countries does it in their public pay toilets, as you can’t spot a vein under UV lights.

    ::Warning::I might be wrong about the exact kind of light, but it was a non-“normal” light frequency.

  6. LadyCarolineLamb says:

    ERSKINE, this isn’t an article about an airport, it’s about downtown Montreal, and no one is advocating losing “a little bit” of our privacy. @@

  7. stinkingbob says:

    First off, if you are a heroin junkie, you really aren’t going to give a damn if there is a camera there recording you. Your only thought is to shoot up.
    Next, if the business is really that concerned about who enters the bathroom, why not do what a lot if businesses do: Put a lock on the door. If you need the key, then you have to ask the person at the counter. Not a customer, then too bad, no bathroom.
    Problem solved.

  8. shadow735 says:

    how about this put a lock on the bathroom so if someone needs to use it they need a key. Then you can control somewhat. If it is a high volume area with a loth of people then get someone to monitor the bathrooms.
    If there is a drug problem call the cops and see what they can do (prob nothing)

  9. shadow735 says:

    @stinkingbob: ah man you beat me to it :P

  10. guspaz says:

    One of the Tim Hortons downtown installed UV lights in their washroom. It was like being on a drug trip every time I tried to take a leak. Eventually they replaced the lighting with the regular type, probably due to overwhelming demand.

    Anybody who installs UV lighting in a washroom is an idiot. Sure, you might make it hard for junkies to shoot up, but you also MAKE IT HARD TO PISS.

  11. forgottenpassword says:

    lol not much you can do to keep people from using a public bathroom as a place to shoot up or to keep the vandals from messing up the place. Its just the cost of having a public bathroom. We had a “bathroom terrorist” at one place I worked at that would shit in the urinal/sink/on the floor, wipe their shitladen ass & then stick it to the mirrors … all kind of messed up things. The most management could do was mount a camera outside the restoom door, monitor who came & went & check it periodically. They could also hire a “bathroom attendant”, but they were too cheap for that.

    I also would be severely outraged at seeing a security camera in a restroom.

  12. Erskine says:

    @LadyCarolineLamb: You are wrong.

  13. @guspaz: How about if you install a UV lamp like they use on Dateline. Would your urine glow like it does on the sheets of a hotel? Cuz that would be really cool.

  14. scoopy says:

    @stinkingbob: 1. Nope. Heroin junkies are scared of their own shadows – sketchy and worried constantly about the police. If all they thought about was their fix and nothing else, they’d be doing it in their car, etc.

    2. Locks on doors make places look shady. Making customers wait in line to ask for a big piss-soaked bathroom key is humiliating, disgusting, and bad for business.

  15. forgottenpassword says:

    @Git Em SteveDave:

    I can imagine going into a place like that & seeing urine stains just all over the place! Including the ceiling! LOL! Wouldnt want to use a restroom like that! Ignorance (of piss stains everywhere) is bliss.

  16. DeltaPurser says:

    Sue-crazy is exactly the right word here… You see a camera in the restroom, you leave. End of story. Nothing to sue about. Period.

  17. @forgottenpassword: Well, I just meant when you peed, would it be like a glowing stream? It would also make sure that the bathroom was clean. Actually, I can’t or don’t see a downside to it. Well, maybe reading would be hard. I could wear a LED headlamp, though…….

  18. Sudonum says:

    Are they truly “public rest rooms”? Here in Louisiana, especially at this time of year (Mardi Gras), all business have signs outside that read “No Public Restrooms”. Meaning that restrooms are for customers only. They don’t put locks on the doors, but they definitely discourage non-patrons from using them. I guess at that time of the year, with the increased business they have enough staff on hand to enforce it. Even hotels in the French Quarter won’t let you in unless you can prove you’re a guest by wearing the appropriate wrist band.

  19. cde says:

    Fake camera or needle in my foot….

    I’ll take steel undersoled boots ftw.

  20. cde says:

    @DeltaPurser: What if you didn’t notice it until after you started taking a shit?

  21. nursetim says:

    A person might have something to hide in this in instance, if you know what I mean.

  22. Coelacanth says:

    Problems with drug users have made finding a public restroom in most of Berkeley extremely difficult. Many businesses have just marked their restrooms available for Employees Only.

  23. satoru says:

    Well this article is from Canada. Just for reference Second Cup is like the Starbucks of Canada before Starbucks came in and ruined everything :P

    In any case because it’s in Canada, the won’t sue. Due to the way tort laws work in Canada, it makes it extremely unappealing to take on bullshit cases like this for the lawyers. Lawyers cannot take on a % of the judgement. Because of this, no one really wants to waste their time on this because there’s no big upside to winning.

  24. satoru says:

    @Git Em SteveDave: I do recall that some bar was putting WD/40 on the toilet seats and other surfaces. The idea was that cocaine would dissolve immediately once it touched the WD/40 thus discouraging drug use in the bathroom.

  25. @satoru: I can think of a thousand other places I would sniff something off of besides a toilet seat.

  26. stinkingbob says:

    “1. Nope. Heroin junkies are scared of their own shadows – sketchy and worried constantly about the police. If all they thought about was their fix and nothing else, they’d be doing it in their car, etc.

    2. Locks on doors make places look shady. Making customers wait in line to ask for a big piss-soaked bathroom key is humiliating, disgusting, and bad for business.”

    Don’t forget that heroin junkies (the majority of them) don’t have cars or homes, so they try to shoot up in a private place. Most logical would be a restroom with stall doors. Now, junkies are not that scared, otherwise they would not want to be alone in the bathroom!
    For your second point, it depends on the establishment.
    Some use keys and some use buzzers which eliminates the need for keys. I myself, would rather ask for a key to go to a clean bathroom rather than not ask for one and go to a shit laden, dirty one.

  27. Propaniac says:

    The “privacy lawyer” in the article is full of crap. The reason cameras in private places make people uncomfortable is because they don’t want other people watching them. If the camera’s fake, that obviously can’t happen, and no actual damage has been done by your simply worrying that people were watching you. It was a bad idea to install the fake camera, but nobody’s actually been harmed by this in the slightest.

  28. dapuddle says:

    There was a case in Vancouver BC where there was a ‘fake’ camera in a parking garage elevator. A lady was sexually assaulted. She thought help was imminent because the camera was there. As it was fake, no help came.

    She sued, she won.

  29. mbz32190 says:

    I remember using a bathroom at a Burlington Coat Factory store a few years ago and you had to be “buzzed” into the bathroom (a camera was placed outside the door). It seems this would be better than a physical lock and key, but it probably expensive.

  30. cde says:

    @Propaniac: The illusion that they have lost their privacy is just as bad.

    Just like its illegal to make a person feel they have been illegally detained/kidnapped even if they really haven’t.

  31. ClayS says:


    Or like waterboarding…making someone feel like they are being drowned when they are not.

  32. UpsetPanda says:

    I’m not sure that heroin junkies are this shop’s biggest problem…I’d never go to a place that had heroin junkies roaming around the area.

  33. dlmccaslin says:

    @cde: By that kind of logic, every paranoid asshole walking the streets in New York City has a case against the government.

    The guy should just put up a sharps box and a sign; “I don’t piss in your track marks, so don’t throw your needles on my bathroom floor.”

  34. Parting says:

    I’d run away screaming if I’d seen a camera in the bathroom :( That’s outright creepy.

    Or I’d step back to the coffee shop and scream ”They have a camera in the bathroom!”

  35. Parting says:

    @protest: Just lock the door, and/or get security on the spot.

  36. cde says:

    @dlmccaslin: Let me rephrase, private citizens/corporations don’t have that right.

  37. ninjatales says:

    Nothing wrong with a fake camera in the bathroom. Guess it also depends where the camera’s located.

  38. dlmccaslin says:

    @cde: Yeah, but major league baseball taps my thoughts everytime I don’t wear a tin foil hat!!!

    Seriously, why can’t there be cameras in the “common areas” of a bathroom, like, monitoring the sinks and such? If it can’t see into stalls and past the urinal dividers, what’s the big deal, unless you people spend an inordinate amount of time in front of the sinks at Wally World with your cocks hanging out…

  39. goodkitty says:

    If you put locks on the bathroom doors then you’ll get situations like that lady who couldn’t hold it in the craft (crap?) store and blamed the employees when it came gushing out in public. Then we’ll need to unlock them all again.

    The cycle continues… :D

  40. wellfleet says:

    I worked at a Second Cup for three years in Montreal! Pretty wild to read about this on Consumerist. I worked downtown and in the Village. I cleaned out three kits from the downtown store. The Village store had a sharps container right in the bathroom! Even with a key on the door, it’s not like we could frisk the customers going into the bathroom… I doubt the camera would help any, but I saw the UV lights in some coffee shops on Saint-Laurent and it’s supposed to do the trick. I do support discouraging junkies from using a coffee shop as a shooting gallery. Can you imagine the lawsuits if someone gets stuck and catches HIV or hepatitis?

  41. Blueskylaw says:

    I think the UV light thing is more interesting than the story.