Landlord allegedly secretly recorded tenants in Salt Lake City homes

Larry S. Phillips. Photo Courtesy: Salt Lake County Jail

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Jan. 5, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — A Salt Lake City landlord was arrested Monday after he allegedly recorded tenants in more than one residence.

A probable cause statement from the 3rd District Court of Salt Lake County said Larry S. Phillips, 69, is facing charges of:

  • Seven counts of burglary of a dwelling, a second-degree felony
  • 13 counts of voyeurism by electronic equipment concealed or disguised, a class A misdemeanor

On July 31, dispatch received a suspicious circumstance call from the area of 1900 E. St Mary’s Drive in Salt Lake City where the complainant reported finding hidden cameras in the house, the statement said. A patrol officer responded in person to the address.

“Upon arrival, the officer met with two individuals who were renting separate bedrooms on the property,” the statement said. “Both individuals reported finding hidden cameras in their private rented bedrooms. The hidden cameras are identical in appearance to an iPhone charger block except black in color. They are powered by plugging the charger into any power source. On the face of the charger, directly above the USB port, which fully functions as a charger for any USB device, was a small camera lens.”

The cameras worked by motion detection and recorded both video/audio files to a mini SD card which is accessible from the back of the charger, the statement said.

“The two complainants also showed the officer where the hidden cameras were discovered in each of their private rented spaces and strange wiring they had found as well,” the statement said. “The officer was shown outlet strips that were mounted vertically on the walls several feet off of the ground as well as wiring they had found in walls and ceilings.”

The complainants and officer devised a “false narrative” that they were reporting stolen property to the officer in case the landlord, Phillips, who lived in the same house, became suspicious, the statement said. This was done so as not to alert Phillips that the hidden cameras had been discovered and that police were there for that reason. The two cameras were seized by the officer and later booked into evidence.

On Aug. 10, detectives with the Salt Lake City Police Department Special Victims Unit obtained a search warrant for the two cameras seized by the initial officer. The cameras contained one video of an unknown naked male being surreptitiously recorded in an unknown bathroom.

Detectives began to research the property owner, Phillips, and discovered he is a registered sex offender, the statement said. Detectives discovered that on in November 2015, he pleaded guilty to two second-degree charges of forcible sex abuse to an incident that occurred on January 2002 in St. George, and in February 2006, Phillips was arrested for a misdemeanor charge of offensive touching in Sandy.

On Sept. 10 of this year, with the assistance of the SLCPD SWAT team, detectives served a search warrant on Phillips’ residence.

“Detectives seized over 70 items of electronic evidence from the residence; laptops, video recorders, cameras, more hidden cameras, SD cards, flash drives, multiple cell phones, tablets and hard drives,” the statement said. “During the service of the search warrant, detectives located the bathroom where the video of the unknown male in the bathroom was recorded and found another camera plugged into the very same outlet where the original video was recorded.”

Phillips was interviewed by detectives and after being read his Miranda rights, said he had four cameras in his home. Two cameras were located in his private bedroom and two cameras were located in an art studio in the backyard. Phillips stated the cameras were for security purposes only. He also described the cameras, SD cards and how he would view the videos. He denied using the cameras for any other purpose other than for home security.

On Sept. 15, detectives obtained a search warrant for Phillips’ personal cell phone and on Sept. 21, detectives obtained a search warrant to view all the of electronic evidence seized during the residential search warrant. Detectives then allegedly discovered more than 90 voyeurism videos on SD cards and flash drives and more than 230 videos were extracted from the suspect’s cell phones, laptops, and tablets which were taken to the Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory in Salt Lake City. To date, detectives have seized a total of over 320 voyeurism videos.

These videos captured the victims being surreptitiously recorded in bathrooms changing clothing, getting in and out of the shower, and in other states of undress. There were also videos recorded in their private rented bedrooms.

“Detectives began to attempt to identify/locate and interview victims from these videos,” the statement said. “After months of investigating every possible lead, detectives have positively identified, and interviewed 13 victims up to this point. Detectives positively identified videos that have been recorded in Larry’s primary residence, his art studio in the backyard, and at two separate houses in the Salt Lake valley that were owned by one of Larry’s friends.”

Detectives also have videos of male models being secretly recorded in art classes at an unknown location as well as locker rooms videos recorded at an unknown location. Phillips is a student at the University of Utah and detectives with SLCPD and the University of Utah Police Department are working together to determine if these videos were recorded at the University of Utah. There are still several outstanding victims who detectives have not been able to identify and locate.

Detectives also discovered multiple videos of Phillips placing and removing cameras in different locations and he is allegedly seen in the videos checking the angle of the cameras.

The videos themselves are recorded from many different angles and locations within the rooms, the statement said. Detectives also have videos of the same incident being recorded from more than one camera in the room at the same time.

“Victims reported that they believed someone was entering their private, rented bedrooms as when they would return home from work or school, items in their room/closet would be out of place,” the statement said.

After interviewing the victims involved in this case, detectives have determined that these videos have been recorded over the past few years. Most of the videos are recordings of the male tenants living in the home at the time they were recorded. There are also videos of females, visitors and even missionaries with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the statement said.

Monday morning, Phillips and his attorney agreed to meet with detectives at the SLCPD where the suspect turned himself in to police without incident. He is being held without bail.


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