How to Find Hidden Cameras and Covert Video Recording Devices

Hidden cam detector
Use a hidden camera detector to sweep your home for hidden electronic bugs.

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
  • Homeowners may use a 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 additions, the cameras are getting smaller and are much more affordable for the average person.

How to Find Hidden Cameras in Your Home, Business 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Run your hand under all surfaces including furniture and other objects in the room. Feel for anything that doesn’t belong.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 signal)
  • Camera lenses (usually requires an additional attachment)

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.

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.

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 gadets will let you know whether or not you’re being watched by surveillance or hidden cameras.

What’s Included?

The following items are usually included in the box when you buy a detection device:

  • The Personal Bug Detector
  • Antenna
  • Lens Finder Attachment
  • Battery or batteries
  • Quick Start Guide & Instructions

What to Look For When Buying Equipment

  • 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.


As an example, BrickhouseSecurity carries a line of high-quality hidden cam detectors that range from under $100 for basic units, up to $3200 for the advanced, top of the line models.

What if you Find Something?

If you find 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 training in counter-surveillance may be able to spot such devices with the naked eye. But in most cases, private eyes will rely on specialized counter-surveillance equipment.


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