We’ve all seen the movies in which somebody rents a room or somewhere only to find out that they have been getting watched with hidden cameras before everything starts turning really creepy.
The thing is, this scenario doesn’t just happen in the movies and has been found to be happening time and time again in rentals. Here are just a couple of links to articles where people have found hidden cameras:
- Airbnb Has a Hidden-Camera Problem
- Family finds hidden camera livestreaming from their Airbnb in Ireland
- Family Finds Eight Hidden Cameras in Airbnb Villa
Although the links above all relate to Airbnb hosts, there are any number of people that could place hidden cameras to spy on you. It could be your landlord, roommate, cleaners, nannies, friends and neighbors, among so many more. If they have keys to where you live, they can potentially place a hidden camera. So how can you spot these hidden cameras and what should you do about it?
1. Room Inspection
You want to take an initial look around the place for anything that looks out of place. It may be something as simple as having two smoke detectors in the same room and remember, it only takes a tiny pinhole camera and the who room can be viewed. Check smoke detectors, clocks, mirrors, electrical outlets, picture frames, etc.
2. Turn the Lights Off
One of the easiest ways to spot a hidden camera is to look for the reflection from the camera lens. To do this, switch off all of the lights and use a flashlight or the light on your smartphone to slowly scan the room and look for the reflection. It may seem silly but if you look through something like a toilet paper tube it can actually make it easier to spot reflections as it narrows your focus. Be sure to scan the room from multiple spots so you don’t miss a camera pointed only at certain places.
3. Camera Detectors
If you do a lot of traveling you may opt to purchase a detector of some sort that can do the hard work for you and give you peace of mind. There are many mini hidden camera detectors available online and they are not at all expensive (though more expensive models are available). Thesedetectors detect the camera lens but along with this you could also get an RF detector which will pick up wireless cameras within around 10 feet. Unfortunately, RF detectors aren’t great for wired or record-only cameras. For those, you’ll need to stick with the lens reflection method.
4. What’s Connected?
If the rental property has access to a wireless network for the guests you can use a program such as Wireless Network Watcher which will show you exactly what gadgets are connected to the network including wireless cameras. This program is available to download onto your computer but if you have a smartphone you could use apps such as Network Scanner or Fing.
Not seeing a camera on the list does not guarantee that there are no hidden cameras as the owner may have put them onto a second network or they may be wired cameras. If the rental property is controlled by a home automation system, it’s fairly easy to find cameras. Open the system controller’s menu and look for anything mentioning cameras. Accordingly, scan the TV channels for anything suspicious.
What Should I do if I Find a Hidden Camera?
First off, if you find a hidden spy camera, don’t touch it but call the police straight away. The police may be able to get fingerprints from the camera to trace the identity of the owner and track them down. We recommend contacting the police BEFORE contacting the landlord, Airbnb etc. All you need to say to the police is that you have direct evidence that your landlord is spying on you, without your knowledge or permission, inside your rental home.
While waiting for the police to arrive, use your smartphone to take photos and videos to document the situation. Only contact the rental site after you have your police report.