An Arizona man spotted something unusual on a utility pole near his house, but when he called and asked the local power company about it, it wasn’t theirs. Then a federal agency came forward.
Brian Clegg contacted SRP Electric about a strange box on the pole located at near Glendale and 21st Avenues overlooking his house and a nearby school.
However, as reported by KNXV, Phoenix police and SRP said the device wasn’t theirs and eventually utlity van marked, “Field Pros” came and removed it.
Shortly after the story aired, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives came forward and admitted the box belonged to them and was there as part of an ongoing investigation.
“I don’t feel safer,” Clegg responded when told about the new development by local media.
“I feel that my privacy has been violated,” said Clegg. “It’s right behind my house.”
The Phoenix mystery box is not the first time ATF has set up devices on utility poles.
After at least two new cameras popped up in metro Seattle, the agency came forward and owned up to them. City officials weren’t in the loop and while Seattle’s surveillance ordinance requires city agencies to get the blessing of the city council to install surveillance equipment, federal agencies aren’t bound by that requirement.
In February, a three judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit handed down a ruling in the case of a Tennessee man whose brother’s farm was under video surveillance for 10 weeks by an ATF camera mounted on a utility pole on the public road. Lawyers for Rocky Houston argued the surveillance was illegal as it was not done with a warrant.
The court disagreed.
“Although this ten-week surveillance was conducted without a warrant, the use of the pole camera did not violate Houston’s reasonable expectations of privacy because the camera recorded the same view of the farm as that enjoyed by passersby on public roads,” Judge John M. Rogers wrote for the court. “The ATF agents only observed what Houston made public to any person traveling on the roads surrounding the farm. “