Coffee shop target of hidden camera investigation

By Joe Beck

FRONT ROYAL — Police are investigating a complaint of a hidden camera found in the unisex restroom of a local coffee and tea shop.

Police executed a search warrant at Happy Creek Coffee & Tea at 18 High St. on Oct. 13 after a customer discovered the camera, according to a search warrant affidavit filed in Warren County Circuit Court.

Police also executed a search warrant on Oct. 24 to obtain DNA swab samples from Carson Thomas Boita, 33, identified in the affidavit as the restaurant owner.

One of the affidavits states that the customer, after discovering the camera, photographed it in the restroom and turned it over to Boita. The customer then reported the incident to Master Police Officer Steve Mauck at the police department. Mauck visited the restaurant “within an hour,” and met Boita, the affidavit states.

Boita gave Mauck the camera without its mini SD card, according to one of the affidavits.

“Boita was carrying the board with the hole and wireless camera,” one of the affidavits states. “Boita had already removed the camera and replaced the board within this time frame. Permission to search the business was denied by Boita when requested by Sgt. (Crystal) Cline.”

One of the affidavits reports several items seized “in Boita’s office linking him to the crime.”

The items include black tape in Boita’s desk “with similar tear marks as the piece of tape found on the camera” the affidavit states.

The inventory also includes a foreign language manual for the camera found in a trash can by Boita’s desk; cords that connected the camera to a USB port in Boita’s desk; the board, which had been carved out on the back side, to position and conceal the camera; and a metal bracket to hold the camera in place.

“Some of the items recovered are believed to hold potential forensic evidence, including but not limited to the DNA of Carson Thomas Boita,” the affidavit states.

In an interview Wednesday, Cline said the investigation is continuing.

“We have items we have sent out to the northern Virginia forensic lab,” Cline said, adding that the analysis won’t be completed “for a little while.”

Search warrant documents cited a state law prohibiting “creation of image of another without consent” as the crime under investigation.

Boita was unavailable for comment by telephone Wednesday evening.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com