If you’re staying in a rental property this spring or summer, you should know how to spot hidden cameras that could be watching you.
If you’re going to be staying in an Airbnb, hotel, or other rental property, you might want to take a few minutes to search for hidden cameras. The idea that somebody might be watching you is not far-fetched. It does happen and many times the hidden cameras are discovered after the renter has been in the house or condo for a few days.
It’s become a lot easier to put hidden cameras all over a rental property. Security cameras are smaller and cheaper. They stream live video and audio back to a smartphone app without anyone knowing they’re being recorded.
If you take a few minutes and a few steps, you can locate hidden cameras before they record you.
Some security cameras look like cameras of course. But there are plenty of others built into alarm clocks, smartphone chargers, picture frames, and smoke detectors. Others are so small they can be placed anywhere on a shelf without someone noticing.
I purchased a smoke detector equipped with a hidden camera for about $60. It not only streams video back to a smartphone app but can record video, photos, and audio onto a micro-SD card. Unless someone inspects it by taking it from the wall and removing the back, it might go unnoticed.
Here are a few steps to spot hidden cameras that may be placed somewhere to watch you:
Check the electrical outlets. Most hidden cameras, the cheaper ones especially, need power. Follow the wires to see what’s plugged in.
If you suddenly see a blue or red light blink on a shelf or near an outlet, look closer. A sudden light might mean it is recording video or audio.
If there’s a smoke detector in an unusual place, like above a bed. Inspect it.
Look for small holes which may be a lens in alarm clocks next to the bed.
Turn off the lights and look around. Infrared cameras will give off a red light.
Use a flashlight, or the torch on your smartphone and slowly look around bedrooms and bathrooms. Hidden cameras will have a lens and you may be able to see a glare from the light.
Check baskets and toys and other items on a shelf or floor in bedrooms and bathrooms.
There are several apps that can show you everything that’s connected to the WiFi router. Though, even after paying for a subscription, I haven’t had much luck with them identifying cameras specifically. Some apps claim to locate hidden cameras by playing a sound on the phone as you get closer to the camera. I’ve used those with mixed success.
When you first arrive, turn off their WiFi router for a few minutes. To stream video back to a phone, most all hidden cameras have to be connected to the router and internet. If the host calls or comes by to see if everything is okay, they could have been watching until you turned off the WiFi.
If you find a hidden camera in a property you’re staying in, contact the rental agency. Airbnb expressly prohibits security camera monitoring that is not revealed to renters ahead of time. It also prohibits the use of cameras in private areas such as bedrooms and bathrooms.
Lastly, contact the police if you find a hidden camera you didn’t know about.