How to Detect Hidden Cameras?

They say that the best judge of a person’s character is to see how he/she acts when no one is watching. Well, that axiom is quickly being thrown to the wayside because these days, everyone’s watching. The average American is caught on camera between 75-200 times per day. Most of those images are captured by security cameras at retail stores, parking garages, or public transit centers. But don’t think that when you’re away from those spots that the cameras have stopped rolling.

Three surveillance cameras on the corner of a ...

Worldwide hidden camera sales have topped $100 million since 2007. More and more, ordinary citizens are installing video surveillance systems in their homes, and most of that footage is being caught by hidden cameras. It’s no longer uncommon to enter a home and find cameras hidden in smoke detectors, behind walls or art work, within vases, picture frames, and other décor, or even inside of a can of Pringles.

Not keen on being the star of your neighbor’s video security system? There are some things you can do to detect if there might be hidden cameras inside of a room that you frequent.

Lights off, cameras on

Turning the lights off in a room can throw off a camera’s auto-focus function and distort any images it captures. More advanced cameras can operate in low light, so continue to search after turning out the lights to see if you can spot the glare from an LED light or display.

Use a flashlight if one’s available. Cameras are often hidden behind objects or walls with a small pinhole cut out to view. Shine your flashlight across the surfaces of the room. The lens of the camera will reflect the light back, showing you where it is hidden.

Sweep the room

Look around the entirety of the room. Are there objects that seem random or out-of-place? Trinkets, pottery, and other decorations are often the most common places where cameras are hidden. Can you see wires that don’t connect to a visible electronic device? Look under table tops or in light fixtures as these are other areas where cameras are known to be concealed.

Quietly walk around the room and listen for any humming or buzzing noises. If an object seems suspicious, try rapidly walking towards it and then away from it. Oftentimes hidden cameras are located because someone heard the sounds of the camera lens coming into focus.

Use a hidden camera detector

For a more advanced and much less conspicuous method, consider buying a hidden camera detector. Cameras give off a radio frequency that can be traced with the proper monitoring equipment. Fortunately for you, products are available so that you don’t have to haul a bulky a coustimeter with you whenever you want to leave the house. Handheld hidden camera detectors are available from security outfitters ranging in price from $100-$500. These devices lock on to anything transmitting at common frequencies of 1.2 GHz -2.4 GHz and respond with an alert tone. Some are even equipped with a display monitor that allows you to see what the camera is recording.

Video surveillance technology is advancing every day. If you still want to maintain some measure of privacy, learning how to detect and avoid hidden cameras is a useful skill for you to have.


Erin Emanuel