This article explains how to find hidden cameras and covert video and audio recording devices. Hidden cameras and video recording devices are used to capture photos and video footage of people without their knowledge. This is done for both legal and illegal purposes and for a variety of reasons. Following are some examples:
- Law enforcement officers may use hidden audio equipment to eavesdrop or video equipment to capture criminals who are in the process of breaking the law
- Private investigators use bug detectors to find electronic bugs and hidden recording devices for their clients
- Homeowners may use hidden cams to capture burglars or thieves who are breaking into their home or attempting to steal their car
- Business owners may use a hidden recording device to watch employees steal money or merchandise, or give unauthorized discounts to their friends and family
- Voyeurs and peeping toms may use the devices to spy on others who may be undressing, or otherwise engaged with their partner.
Whatever the reason, this type of activity is becoming more and more common because the use of cover recording devices is becoming more popular. In addition, the cameras are getting smaller and are much more affordable for the average person.
How to Find Hidden Cameras in Your Home, Business, Car or Hotel Room
If you have a reason to believe there may be a recording device present, there are a few simple steps you can follow to check things out. Some of these steps can be done without specialized equipment.
- Scan the room or rooms visually. Sometimes, the person doing the spying isn’t all that smart. If so, it is likely that they did a poor job of concealing the equipment. Check everything in the room, including smoke detectors, electronic equipment, hanging pictures, tissue boxes, mirrors, cushions, furniture, etc.
- Look for lights or wires that look out of place. A great idea for quickly finding hidden lights is to turn off the lights in the room, then look around. This will quickly reveal the lights.
- Look to see if anything else is out of place. If a bug is placed inside your home, someone had to physically enter the house and place it there. In most cases, there will be some type of evidence that someone was there. Has the furniture been moved? Are hanging pictures and wall art out of whack? Do you notice anything in the HVAC vents? Have any of the ceiling tiles been moved? Have the outlets and light switches been disturbed?
- Run your hand over and under all surfaces including furniture and other objects in the room. Feel for anything that doesn’t belong.
- Make a phone call and pay attention to whether there is any interference on the call. In some cases, the concealed electronic equipment may cause interference with your phone signal. This isn’t easy to detect, because you may just not have a strong signal on your phone, to begin with.
- Use a small, handheld camera detector or bug sweeper to scan the entire room. Also known as an RF bug detector or a camera hunter, this device will pick up on the frequencies emitted by the devices. Prices for base models run from $150 to $400. If you offer this service to your clients, it’s a good idea to invest in more advanced equipment.
What is a Camera Detector?
Camera Detectors and Personal Bug Sweepers usually handheld and portable, battery-powered electronic devices that are able to detect:
- Hidden wired and Wireless Cameras
- Phone taps
- Laser taps
- Wireless Microphones (Mics)
- Audio Transmitter Bugs
- Video Transmitter Bugs
- Wireless Transmitter Bugs
- GPS Trackers (only when transmitting a signal)
- Camera lenses (usually requires an additional attachment)
On units that are equipped with a strength meter, the meter will not only light up but will indicate greater strength as you get closer to the actual source. The device is used by physically scanning the room, including walls, ceilings, floors, furniture, equipment, etc. When the device detects a bug, tap, mic, camera, etc., the meter lights up and sometimes beeps to let you know an electronic surveillance device is hidden somewhere nearby.
Bug sweepers and detectors have different detection strengths, but most models can pick-up frequencies and signals from 25 feet or more away. A quick scan of the room with one of these spy gadgets will let you know whether or not you’re being watched by surveillance or hidden cameras.
Brickhouse Security has a good selection of electronic bug detectors and other counter-surveillance equipment at a reasonable price. Following is my recommendation:
Personal Multi-Bug Detector
Detect Hidden Cameras, Bugs, and GPS Trackers
The Personal Multi-Bug Detector is a small, handheld device that allows you to scan physical areas for electronic bugs, hidden video cameras, and GPS tracking devices. The unit is battery powered and portable so you can take it with you on the road.
This is a great tool for private detectives, police officers and security professionals who want to be sure their clients are safe from electronic monitoring.
The unit is available for $195 at Brickhouse. Free shipping is included on all orders over $50.
The detection device can be used in a number of ways. For example, the device can be used to scan your home or office, or your client’s home or office for electronic bugging devices. Also, it can be used to check your personal phones and mobile phones for electronic bugging devices or “phone taps”.
If you’re about to get in your car, quickly identify secretly placed GPS tracking devices that may be hidden somewhere on your car. It is also great for finding hidden cameras used by voyeurs in dressing rooms or other areas. The equipment is super-easy to use, just flip the switch on the device to start detecting.
What to Look For When Buying Equipment
- Performance – The most important aspect is that the equipment accomplishes what it is supposed to accomplish.
- Durability – you want equipment that will last
- Accuracy – you don’t want a lot of false positives, picking up signals where they don’t really exist. This will cost you a lot of time and headaches.
- Affordability – Don’t invest thousands of dollars in expensive equipment when devices that cost just a few hundred will do the trick. Most private investigators won’t need military-grade gear.
The price of hidden cam detectors varies from distributor to distributor. Prices range from under $100 for basic units and up to $3200 for the advanced, top of the line models.
What if you Find Something?
If you find hidden equipment, it is best to first notify the police. If you’re staying in a hotel room, contact the front desk to report it and ask hotel security to call the police.
What Do Private Investigators and Security Experts Need to Know?
As a private investigator, you may be asked to check out a home or business that is suspected of being bugged. Or, you may be providing personal security services and need to make sure a hotel room is clear of electronic spying devices, for example.
A private investigator who is trained in counter-surveillance should know how to find hidden cameras. Some may be so experienced that they can spot hidden devices with the naked eye. But in most cases, private eyes will rely on specialized counter-surveillance equipment.
If you have any questions about how to find hidden cameras, please leave a comment below. Also, visit our Spy Gear section for more information on surveillance equipment.