More than 100 people who fear they may have been secretly taped in a Mall of America store dressing room have called Bloomington police, who have set up a special hotline to handle the calls.
A 41-year-old man from Elk River is suspected of placing hidden cameras inside dressing rooms at the megamall and Maplewood Mall. He hasn't been charged and was released from jail two weeks ago as investigators continue to review evidence in the case.
Bloomington police have been hearing from potential victims since issuing a news release Wednesday about the incidents. Having a separate telephone number for the case — 952-563-4994 — will make it easier for investigators to manage information that could be presented to the county attorney's office for charges, said Deputy Chief Mike Hartley.
Bloomington police issued a bulletin about the peeping incidents to other law enforcement agencies in July. The bulletin indicated the suspect told them similar incidents had occurred at the Maplewood Mall, though Maplewood Police Cmdr. Dave Kvam said only one person had called his department about the case. Since the report isn't recent, he said their case is a little more difficult to investigate.
"We need to talk to Bloomington and see if they have anything we can use to support potential charges," Kvam said.
According to a search warrant filed in Hennepin County District Court, the suspect targeted Mall of America stores frequented by teenage girls over several months this year. He attached a fake shelf to the fitting room walls at waist height, and mounted the cameras so they would not be seen unless someone looked under the shelves, the warrant said.
Cameras were found at Hollister and Forever 21 stores between March and September at the Mall of America, and the Hollister store at Maplewood Mall. Officials at the malls did not respond to messages seeking comment.
The search warrant stated the man told police that he watched people in dressing rooms at least 10 times at the two malls and other shopping centers in the area. Bloomington started hearing about the possibility in the spring.
The suspect was released on bail to allow investigators to pursue a higher level of charges, said Hartley. It will take some time before a case is submitted to the county attorney's office, he said.
David Chanen • 612-673-4465