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Surveillance cameras have become commonplace in almost every public location. In the past couple of years surveillance cameras have rapidly spread to private homes in the form of security cameras covering entrances, driveways, even inside the home if there are valuables tucked away.
Let’s face it, there are creepy people in the world. That’s why we lock our doors at night, and why we don’t want to walk alone in a dark alleyway. When we rent a place, like a hotel or vacation home, we typically don’t expect someone to be watching us. We expect our homes as well as rental spaces to be private, so we can go about our regular routines in private, undress in private, and be intimate with our partner in private.
A local handyman in Alton, NH was recently arrested and charged with spying on his customers’ personal lives by installing hidden cameras in homes where he was doing work. Alton police arrested Peter Mugford and charged him with five felony counts of unlawful wiretapping, two counts of burglary, violation of privacy, and stalking.
According to statement released by Alton Police — Mugford allegedly used his profession as an interior renovator to place hidden cameras in bedrooms, bathrooms and other private areas of the home while he was working on projects that required several days to complete.
He was found to be actively video recording clients during private moments in the evening while he was gone. Then when the project was complete he would remove the hidden cameras and leave the home/work site.
And rental properties such as Airbnb, small hotels, even major hotels have become vulnerable to hidden camera spies.
A mid-size hotel in a major national chain in Atlanta, GA came under scrutiny when a housekeeping crew would clean a room and hide cameras in strategic locations. The next day during cleaning time, they removed the cameras and later watched the room’s renters changing clothes, bathing, even getting intimate.
Stories abound of renters at Airbnb locations finding small, hidden cameras in smoke detectors, wall art, even table-top ornaments. Many times these cameras are not just recording what happens, but are live-streaming to another location.
Manufacturers design cameras disguised as other everyday objects, that can be used for legitimate reasons in your own home—for example, to hide a camera a burglar can’t find, or to monitor a nanny with your children, or pets left home alone. But how do you ensure someone isn’t targeting you with a hidden camera?
The reality is, surveillance cameras have caught and convicted countless criminals for heinous crimes they’ve carried out. These days’ hidden cameras can operate for days on battery power, while saving footage to a memory card or even to cloud storage.
However, surveillance technology has come a long way and while security cameras are a great tool for catching and deterring criminals, they can also be used against us.
Now, whether you are staying in a hotel room or using a public restroom, here are some simple methods that can help you detect hidden cameras.
Scan the room with your eyes. If you just arrived at your hotel or Airbnb for a long stay, one of the easiest ways to detect hidden cameras is checking around the environment carefully.
An inch-by-inch search is ideal to spot hidden cameras. Check around the room and inspect obvious places to hide cameras such as houseplants, smoke detectors, wall decor, picture frames and TV equipment.
Some objects may reveal suspicious wires, lights or lenses that are hallmarks of hidden spy cameras. If you find some unusual power outlets, chargers, or adapters, unplug them immediately.
Don’t forget to listen as you walk through the entire room. Some hidden motion-sensing surveillance cameras will make an almost inaudible buzz when in operation.
Turn the lights off. Most hidden security cameras have red or green LEDs. The LEDs will blink or shine when in low-light conditions. Examine the room to see if there are blinking red or green LEDs anywhere in your room. Check in all the air vents, curtain folds, table art or even the little hole in a doorknob.
When in low-light conditions, the LEDs around the camera lens will turn on automatically to supplement the lighting for the cameras to produce clear night vision images. Look carefully because the light these LEDs emit is almost invisible to the naked eye.
Use a flashlight. Another simple way to detect hidden cameras is using a flashlight. The way this works is first turn on the flashlight and turn off the lights in your room.
Next, pan the flashlight around the room slowly and examine any suspicious positions from different angles. If you notice any reflective lights from an object, you will want to investigate the reflection to see what it causing it. You may have discovered a hidden camera.
If you suspect your home or office has been compromised, and suspect it may contain hidden cameras or other surveillance equipment, the best (and expensive) course of action is to hire a private investigator who can come scan your location with top notch professional equipment.
In any case, the next time you stay in a hotel room, or even use a dressing room, check around using these to make sure no one is watching.
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