When technology is smaller and cheaper than ever, it's almost too easy to buy and install a hidden camera. In fact, once you start looking around, it becomes clear that cameras are everywhere: streetlights, outside of buildings, and inside stores.
Most of these cameras are installed to keep the public safe but that doesn't mean people don't hide them for their own purposes. Next time you find yourself in a hotel room or Airbnb, use some of these tips for finding hidden cameras.
Wires In Unexpected Places
When you walk into a hotel room or an Airbnb, just take a quick look around. If you see any wires that look out of place or don't seem to go anywhere, definitely inform the front desk or your host. While many cameras are wireless, unexplained wiring can lead to a hidden camera.
Honestly, it's better to be paranoid about these types of things then test fate and potentially find yourself in an unsafe situation for the night.
Check To See What Is Plugged Into Each Outlet
All surveillance devices use some sort of power source, whether that be a battery or an electrical outlet. Battery-powered devices have a limited lifespan, so anyone who is hiding a camera will most likely want to go with something that won't die.
That being said, you're going to want to do a sweep of the room you are staying in, checking all of the outlets and identifying where each plug is coming from. As previously mentioned, you want to make sure each of the wires has a purpose!
A Weird Light Not Coming From A Lamp
Although a camera designed for a stealthy situation probably won't sport something as obvious as a light, there are some people that don't think about the feature and therefore will hide a camera that has a light attached.
Our suggestion is to turn off the lamps in the room and see if there are any little beams of light coming out of weird areas, such as a plant or a tiny hole in the wall. You never know where they can be hiding!
Small Holes In The Wall Or Other Places
Unfortunately, it only takes a hole the size of a pin for a camera lens to see into a room. Some types of stealth cameras take advantage of that aspect, hiding in any object that can withstand a tiny drill.
Most commonly, the hole will be in the wall, but other locations include plant pots, thermostats, and light switches. We're not saying to search every square inch of a hotel room, just to be aware of any tiny hole that looks out of place!
Objects That Look Out Of Place
Ever heard of a nanny cam? While a teddy bear nanny cam might not look completely out of place, it's a good example. Anything that looks like it doesn't belong or has been moved to an unusual location has the potential to house a hidden camera.
Think of a stuffed animal sitting on the dresser of a hotel room. Definitely out of place and there is no way that housekeeping would leave it there. Talk about creepy.
Check The Mirrors to Make Sure They're Not Two-Way
Be sure to insect every mirror in your room; you never know when one can be a two-way mirror! The best way to check if a mirror is two-way is by using your fingertip. On most mirrors, if you touch the surface with your finger, the reflection will not touch it but instead, leave a bit of a gap.
If it's a two-way mirror, your fingertip and the reflection will touch. Be mindful that some places use a metal back with a mirror tint to prevent shattering, giving the illusion of a two-way mirror.
Listen To Your Surroundings
Although this isn't a foolproof method, another way to detect a hidden camera is to listen carefully. Like most electronics, some motion-sensitive cameras will give off a soft click or a low humming or buzzing sound. Normally, these sounds will happen when someone walks past the camera.
If you're in a place where you can turn off the lights, television, and any other electronics, do it for a second, walk around, and listen to your surroundings without distractions.
Always Be Sure To "Paint" The Walls
Painting the walls is exactly what it sounds like, only you're not going to be using actual paint. What this phrase means is to pick a section of the room and slowly run a radio frequency detector in a painting motion up and down the walls.
While "painting," you should also be visually inspecting the walls. You never want to fully rely on technology because it can sometimes miss signals. Once you finish painting one wall make a mental note it is "safe" and move on to the next section of your room.
Know What Amenities Are Offered
It is always recommended to be knowledgeable about the place that you are going to be staying and what services and amenities are being offered. When you get to the hotel or Airbnb, compare what you know to what is around your room.
For example, if the room listing says there will be an alarm clock and there are two, check them both for anomalies. One is most likely hiding a camera or other recording device!
The Local WiFi Might Tell You Something
If a hidden camera is live-streaming a video, you may be able to see if it is on a local WiFi network. There is various software, like Nmap for computers, or applications like Fing - Network Scanner for iOS and Android devices that will scan whatever WiFi networks your computer, smartphone, or tablet is connected to and list all the devices.
It's an easy method for anyone who wants to make sure no live videos are being streamed inside their room. And the apps are free!
Thermal Detection Software
Most hidden cameras are put in small spaces that don't provide much ventilation, making them emit a good amount of heat. That's where a thermal detection device comes into play! A thermal imaging camera, such as the FLIR ONE Gen 3, will help you locate hot spots in your room directly on your phone.
If you locate a spot behind a wall, picture, smoke detector, or any other weird location, you most likely stumbled across some hidden equipment.
Light Reflecting Off A Lens
Although many ways to find hidden cameras aren't flawless, there is one method that works on all cameras whether they're on or off. Every camera has a lens that will reflect light. So, you should be able to find any hidden camera by scanning your room with a light source, looking for a glint of light as it reflects off the camera sensor.
Obviously, this approach still isn't 100 percent reliable, as you'll need to be at the correct angle and, with some devices, fairly close to the camera to spot it.
Flashlights Are The Easiest Source Of Light To Spot Cameras
If you have a smartphone, then you have a flashlight that will do just the trick. To find a hidden camera using a flashlight all you have to do is turn off all the lights and pan your phone around the room very slowly. Make sure to turn the light at different angles if you come across suspicious areas!
If there are glints of light coming from places where there is no mirror or glass or other reflective surfaces, then you most likely have found a camera.
Camera-Detecting Application: Hidden Camera Detector
You can also make your search easier by downloading an application to your smartphone. For the iPhone, there is an application called Hidden Camera Detector that costs $4.99. This application can help you find hidden cameras in two ways: lens detection and with a network, WiFi, and Bluetooth scanner.
It will automatically pinpoint suspected cameras on your phone's screen, making it easier for you to find and disable any hidden camera. Totally worth the $4.99, in our opinion!
Camera-Detecting Application: Glint Finder
Unfortunately, the Hidden Camera app does not work for people with an Android phone, instead, they'd have to download the app called Glint Finder. Now, this app is free, with advertisements, and is a good thing to have previously downloaded on your phone for any upcoming trips where you're staying in a hotel or Airbnb.
Glint finder flashes your phone's light rapidly, making it easier to pick up any reflections. Unlike the iPhone app, it's then up to you to find the course.
Get A Professional Hidden Camera Detector
One of the most effective ways to spot hidden cameras is to buy a professional camera detector. This type of equipment can run up to a few hundred dollars, so if you are looking to purchase one make sure to do a lot of research!
Professional detectors usually use one of two methods: they look for that glint from the camera lens, much like using a flashlight, or they detect radio frequency broadcasts from a wireless camera.
Professional Detector LED Lights
Like using a flashlight or smartphone, professional detectors use multiple flashing LED lights in order to find hidden cameras. The more expensive models even go as far as using lasers! This type of detector is easy to use. All you have to do is turn it on and hold it at eye level, with the light face away from your face, and activate the device while looking around the room.
Again, you have to be careful about the angles at which you hold the detector. If you spot one, a camera lens will light up in the detector's viewfinder!
Professional Detector Radio Frequency (RF) Locater
Detecting RF signals is even easier than using the LED lights because it will give an audible sound when you get close to a camera. The downside to this technology is that a lot of devices, not just cameras, give off RF signals, so be careful that you don't go off on a wild goose chase.
On top of that, if the camera is turned off, the RF detector won't pick up on any of the transmissions.
Wired & Wireless Camera Detector
The Wired & Wireless Camera Detector is an upgrade from a phone app, costing $59. When turned on, the detector can be set up to vibrate or beep to tell you if something is transmitting RF signals.
This device is great because even if it's in your pocket, it will let you know when you're near a camera. The best part is that if the detector picks up a signal, all you have to do is hold the viewfinder up to your eye until it spots something.
Stealth Camera Lens Finder
If you're looking for some high-end spy gear, then you want to try the Stealth Camera Lens Finder, costing $445. This product is different from others on the market because it allows for both short and long-range scans with a simple push-button operation.
All you have to do is face the LED light away from your face, place the viewfinder to your eye, and then scan the room. The room will appear red in the finder, while any camera lens will appear as a flickering white light.