Assaulted mom’s ‘nanny cam’ cost just $99: Inside the world of high-tech, clever (and cheap) video home security

Posted at 6:38 PM, Jul 02, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-02 18:39:22-04

NEWARK, N.J. (PIX11) —  As 42-year-0ld Shawn Custis—an ex-con with a rap sheet dating back to the 1990s—was pleading not guilty to the attempted murder of a  Millburn, N.J.  mom, PIX 11 was learning more about the various,  home security cameras that are doing more now than keep track of baby-sitters.

The young mom in Millburn had a $99 camera perched on the mantle in her living room on June 21, which captured the brutal attack, when a suspect identified as Custis broke into her back door and assaulted the woman in front of her 3-year-old daughter.

“Although the press is reporting this as a ‘nanny cam’ story, the camera itself was not covert,” said Todd Morris, CEO of Brickhouse Security in midtown Manhattan. “It was a perfectly obvious camera, and I think the perpetrator wasn’t taking the time to look around.”


This bottle of Aquafina water has a hidden camera concealed in the letter ‘A.’

Morris said the woman in Millburn had a camera he described as an Internet Protocol type, meaning it can be accessed from the web—and the footage saved on the Internet.

“Fortunately, with an Internet-connected camera like this,” Morris told PIX, “even if he had spotted this and destroyed the camera, the recording doesn’t get destroyed.  It’s on the Internet.”

Morris also showed PIX11 a variety of cameras that could truly be described as “nanny cams”—because they’re hidden in common, household products.

“You can get a nanny cam that looks like a tissue box or an air freshener,” he said.   “We’ve even got a water bottle,”  Morris told us, picking up an Aquafina bottle.  “And I don’t know if you can tell, but right under the ‘A’, there’s a small hole.  The camera is inside.”


Book ’em! This dictionary is concealing a camera that can catch bad guys in the act.

Morris then unscrewed the fake top of the bottle, and showed us the electronics of the camera situated inside.

Morris also showed PIX a wall outlet with a camera hidden inside.

“The camera is usually angled slightly upward, so it can capture the entire room,” he said.

“One of the things no one picks up on is the student dictionary,” Morris said, showing us another device.  “This student dictionary has the camera above the middle star,” he explained, as he pointed to a little hole on the spine of the book.

The cameras range from $89.00 to more than $300, depending on the battery life.  Morris said in recent years, nanny cam sales have been rising at 40% yearly.

“I think the quality you’re getting off ‘consumer grade’ nanny cams now is so high, it’s much better than security you used to see on cameras in banks a few years ago.”

Morris also explained how customers can use apps on devices like  iPhones to watch what’s happening in their living rooms.

The only thing they can’t do is record sound on the nanny cams, he said.

“It’s not allowed under federal law,” Morris noted.