How to protect your property from unwanted surveillance
When You Need to Know if Someone is Watching
Commercial and residential surveillance cameras used to be pretty easy to spot. Most of them used a large camera assembly mounted to an equally large swivel arm - which gave the camera an excellent view of thieves and vandals, but also gave potential wrongdoers an equally excellent view of the camera.
Today's technology makes hidden cameras easier than ever to place on a property without the owner's knowledge. Finding hidden cams may seem like a daunting task, but there are several strategies you can use to locate them and ensure that nobody is watching your private moments.
Some people may choose to keep cameras out of their homes altogether. But there are many situations where the entire family benefits from the use of carefully placed hidden cams. For example, many people use nanny cams to monitor their babysitters, elderly relatives, household employees or short-term maintenance personnel. Hidden cameras are also perfect for making sure your teenagers are respecting your house rules while you're away.
Of course, being watched by an unwanted camera is an entirely different issue. Here's what to look for:
Consider Camera Size First
Many hidden cameras are easy to overlook because of their size. In fact, some of the most covert models are no larger than your thumb. Start by taking a walk around your home and evaluating all potential camera locations. If a novice hid the cameras, you may find them in fairly obvious places (taped to a table leg or peeking out from a bookshelf, for example). But if an experienced surveillance expert placed the devices, you’ll need to be extremely vigilant in your search.
Check for Wires
During your home tour, keep an eye out for wires dangling from an unusual angle. Cameras have to be powered; they will either be hardwired or battery-powered. Many people prefer wired cameras because they provide continuous power to the camera. These wires must be snaked down walls or hidden behind furniture. Pull couches and tables away from the wall to look for suspicious wires.
Finding battery-powered cameras is slightly more challenging, but since these cameras must have room to house a battery, they're often a bit larger than their wired counterparts.
Look for New or Unusual Items in Your Home
If a book looks unfamiliar or the smoke detector has a slightly different lid color than it used to, it's possible a hidden camera has been installed in these items. People who place cameras often use items within the room to hide the components. For example, smoke detectors are largely ignored, making them prime camera locations. And you might not pull out a particular book from the shelf very often. Even a new potted plant could be a hiding spot; a camera could easily be placed in the leaves or down in the soil. Other popular places to hide hidden cameras include wall or alarm clocks, audio/video components or home appliances -- even power adapters or WiFi routers.
If you send your television or small appliances out for repair, select a company you trust. Repair personnel could place a camera in a TV, for example, making you the star of their show. Simply pick up and inspect all items that have alteration possibilities.
Consider a Hidden Camera Detector
If you've searched high and low for cameras with no luck, try to use technology against the device. Starting at about $100, laser camera detectors are the simplest and most economical way to find almost any camera in almost any room, including wired and wireless cams.
Regardless of how well hidden it is, a camera's lens needs to be able to "see" its subject to capture images. If you point a specific kind of light at a camera's lens, the lens will create a reflection. Laser camera finders are equipped with an LED light source and a viewing port. To scan a room for hidden cameras, just look through the viewing port with the finder's light source activated. If you see an obvious reflection that's not coming from a mirror or other surface, move your viewing angle slightly. If the location of the reflection moves as you move, then you haven't detected anything out of the ordinary. But if the location of the reflection doesn't move, you've very likely discovered the lens of a hidden camera.
Scanning an entire room with a camera detector gives you the assurance that hidden cams haven't been placed on your property without your consent.
Be Vigilant About Leaving Your Home Unsupervised
Always be aware of who has access to your home when you're not around. Try to supervise in-home workers or contractors and of course, don't permit access to anyone other than family and close friends.
Get Help From a Professional
As noted above, it's entirely possible to find and disable hidden cameras yourself. But if you're still concerned, call in a pro. Private investigators and counter surveillance professionals know all the telltale signs of secret surveillance, and they have sophisticated tools to help them locate cameras or other household recording equipment.