TEMECULA, CA—On a quiet cul-de-sac in Temecula, one family has sounded the alarm: Someone placed a spy camera in their front hedge for reasons yet to be made known.

On Thursday, May 9, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Southwest Sheriff’s Station answered a 911 call of suspicious activity near Crowne Hill Drive. When the authorities arrived, the family pointed out a strange device buried in a front yard hedge, obscured from view by a fake plant. Officers called the Riverside Sheriff’s Hazardous Device Team and evacuated the area.

Hours later, the department identified the items as “surveillance equipment,” Sgt. Deirdre Vickers told Patch.

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Just one alert neighbor with security cameras was all it took to identify the suspicious activity, what he described as two masked men outside the Crowne Hill home, carrying something into the yard.

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They left moments later.

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“I would not have found it until I pulled weeds in a week,” the resident, who asked to remain nameless, told Patch. He left it in place and did not open or touch it, leaving investigators to do their work.

Officers informed him that the device, covered in electrical tape, held a battery and a cellular hotspot. It transmitted a live video feed aimed across the street from his home.

“We don’t know the exact reason why it was placed there,” he said. “It was shocking and alarming to find it. I didn’t want to take it apart because I didn’t want to destroy evidence.”

This is not the first surveillance device found in an Inland Empire neighborhood.

In late April, another device was found in Chino Hills disguised as a rock in a center median. According to KTLA, someone obscured that camera with clay to make it look like a rock, similarly attached to a power bank. Someone had aimed the camera at a home across the street.

Savvy neighbors scanned security footage to find someone rolled up on a scooter and buried the device. Police learned that the camera was transmitting from nearby cell towers.

In each case, home security cameras captured video of the suspects placing the devices in hidden locations. Both the Chino Hills and Temecula neighborhoods remain on edge as to why the cameras are there while officials investigate.

Temecula residents have theorized the purpose of the obscured cameras. Some wondered if hired private detectives were seeking video of cheating spouses, while others considered the possibility of human traffickers seeking potential victims.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department believes that the device might be a modern way of casing homes for potential burglary.

Whatever the reason, neighbors advise others to keep watching out for each other. If you see something, say something.

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department are investigating where the devices came from and have declined further details during the open investigation.

“Until you prove it’s not a bomb, it’s a bomb,” he said. “These guys picked the wrong street and the wrong neighborhood.”

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