Bratt police: Man says grocery store pics ‘a stupid move'
BRATTLEBORO -- A Whitingham man accused of shooting pictures of unsuspecting women at a grocery store -- including a video taken underneath a teen's skirt -- told police "it was a stupid move," new court documents say.
Robert R. Smith, 44, also told investigators that he "did it for the thrill of getting away with it," according to a police affidavit filed this week in Windham Superior Court Criminal Division.
Smith pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of voyeurism and prohibited acts and was released on conditions, including an order that he have no contact with females under age 18.
Brattleboro police said they were called on Jan. 28 to the Hannaford grocery store on Putney Road, where the store's loss-prevention coordinator said he had noticed on surveillance cameras "a male subject walking around the store taking pictures of females."
An assistant manager told police that the man had departed, but those who had been photographed were still in the store.
Officer Matt Petlock spoke with a woman who was shopping with her daughter and her daughter's friend, both of whom are under 18. Petlock "explained to the females that an unidentified man had been in the store and placed a cell phone in a basket on the floor underneath (the teens') lower body region and appeared to be recording upward," the affidavit says.
The teens told police they hadn't noticed anything. But the mother "said she did notice the male near the girls, and he looked like he might have been up to something."
Police watched the Hannaford surveillance tape and said they observed the man "going up to numerous females, taking video of their lower-body regions." In one instance in the store's frozen-food section, the man placed his empty basket on the floor and kicked it underneath a girl's skirt.
Police distributed a photo of the suspect to the local press in an attempt to identify him. On Feb. 5, Brattleboro police Detective Lt. Michael Carrier wrote in an affidavit, Smith called and "told me that he was the guy I was looking for and he was sorry for what he did and he didn't know why he did it."
Smith agreed to waive his Miranda rights and submitted to a police interview the following day. He signed and dated a picture from store surveillance, "acknowledging that it was him," Carrier wrote.
"Smith said he was planning on looking at the pictures and video later on but denied that he was going to view the pictures and video for sexual gratification," Carrier wrote.
Smith told police that three photos he took at the store didn't turn out, but one of the videos did.
"Smith said he saw that he was being watched by a guy in the store, so he deleted the pictures and video from his phone and left the store," the affidavit says. "Smith said that he no longer had the phone that he used to take the pictures and video. Smith said that he lost that phone yesterday afternoon and had to get a new one."
Carrier wrote that Smith committed the offense of voyeurism because he recorded the "intimate areas" of one of the victims "in a place where she would expect to have a reasonable expectation of privacy."
At his arraignment, Smith was ordered to have no contact with the victims and to not carry any device that produces pictures.
Mike Faher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.