|Mickey Edwin Cook|
By Michael Barrett
A retired Gaston County Police sergeant was arrested Thursday and charged with using a video camera to secretly record a female tenant.
Mickey Edwin Cook, who will celebrate his 64th birthday Friday, was charged with misdemeanor secret peeping. He was released from the Gaston County Jail after posting a $2,500 bond.
Cook and his wife have a small apartment beside their home that they had been renting to a woman in her upper 30s since November, said Belmont Police Chief Charlie Franklin. The single mother lives there with her young child.
The woman came to the police department Thursday and told officers she and a friend had been in her bedroom earlier when they noticed a small pinhole camera between the slats of an air conditioning vent.
“They pulled it down from the vent and saw it had wires attached to it,” said Franklin. “They clipped the wires off and brought it to the police department.”
Officers investigated and traced the wire, which led out of the house and down an outside wall. It had been buried underground and ran to an adjacent outbuilding that Cook also owns. Cook was not at home, but his wife gave them consent to search the outbuilding, Franklin said.
Inside, officers found that the wire connected to a TV monitor and a VCR recording device. They also found several floppy disks and pornographic material.
Officers then searched Cook’s residence and found several videotapes, along with a computer believed to be linked to the crime, Franklin said.
Cook returned home while the search was underway and was arrested, Franklin said.
Franklin said they were unsure Thursday whether Cook owns or manages any other rental properties in the area. They are continuing to investigate.
“This is not just an open-and-shut thing,” he said. “We’ll need to review that computer and see what else is on there.”
Franklin described the crime as a serious violation, even though Cook was only charged with a misdemeanor.
“Crimes like this are disturbing,” said Franklin. “People should not have to fear being recorded in their homes. Anyone caught doing something like this in Belmont will be prosecuted.”