Imagine getting a phone call in the middle of the night telling you there were cameras in your home, that you were being watched.
That’s exactly what happened to North Delta resident Linda McCague, one of several women across the Lower Mainland who police say have received threatening phone calls from an anonymous male caller.
McCague was in bed asleep the night of Feb. 18 when she was roused by a mysterious male caller telling her she was being watched by cameras in her house.
“It was after midnight and the phone rang. I answered it. And a male voice on the phone said, ‘Linda, I’m watching you. I’ve put cameras in your bedroom and your bathroom and I’m watching you.’ So that was pretty freaky,” McCague told the Reporter.
“It was upsetting. I didn’t hang up right away, I said, ‘who is this?’ And he repeated, ‘Linda I’m watching you.’ He said he was watching the outside of the house as well as cameras in my bedroom and my bathroom.”
After hanging up on the unknown caller, the man phoned back, which is when her husband Peter answered the phone, while she listened on the other line.
“I was listening in and I didn’t say anything right away and [the caller] was like, ‘Linda, are you there?’ And then my husband got on and he said, ‘I’ve got your number buddy’. And the guy said, ‘I don’t care. Lots of people have my number and you can’t do anything with it,’” McCague said.
Her husband then told the man he was recording the call before hanging up.
And McCague’s story is just one of many.
On Feb. 28, the RCMP announced they had received reports of several calls that began last year in which a man identifies the woman by name and address, and claims he is watching her through cameras he installed in her home. He demands she engage in sexually explicit conversation or her family members will be killed.
In McCague’s case, the conversation didn’t escalate to anything sexual or overtly threatening, something she thinks didn’t happen due to the fact her husband answered the phone when he called back.
At first she thought the caller was connected to an infant child the family is fostering, or the fact her husband’s truck was broken into the weekend before outside their Royal York home, until she began seeing more instances of women receiving similar calls in the news.
McCague, who is a self-employed photographer and works from home, is usually at home with her two- and three-year-old daughters. All four of the family’s children, plus the foster child, were home at the time of the call.
RCMP also say there is no evidence yet that suggests the caller has installed cameras in any of his victims’ homes.
McCague reported the call to Delta Police, who are investigating. The RCMP, meanwhile, is dealing with a larger file for the Lower Mainland as a whole.
According to last week’s announcement, police believe the man is using some kind of app, software or website that changes the phone number coming in on the caller ID, also known as “spoofing.”
They also believe he is picking up information about the women through social media. According to McCague, her number was accessible online and since the call she has made that information private. She is also considering installing security cameras on her property.
Police ask that anyone who may have received one of these calls come forward and report it.
RCMP are recommending the following safety tips for anyone who receives such a call:
• Record the caller’s telephone number
• Hang up and do not engage in conversation with the caller
• Immediately report the incident to your local police
• Block the number whenever and wherever possible
• Use an unlisted name and number
– with files from Ashley Wadhwani