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Warning! Hidden cameras planted in hotel rooms and vacation rentals

Warning! Hidden cameras planted in hotel rooms and vacation rentals
© Vladvitek | Dreamstime

The holidays are right around the corner, which means tons of people will be traveling to spend some quality time with family and friends. I can't think of a better time than reminiscing about the good-ole-days with loved ones. But after a super long day of sharing memories, all I want to do is head back to the hotel and get a good night's sleep.

I'm sure many people feel the same way, which is why hotels and vacation rentals are going to be packed over the next couple months. Unfortunately, there's been numerous reports recently of creepers spying on travelers. You're going to want to share this article with family and friends so they know what to watch out for.

How creepers could be spying on you

What we're talking about are hidden cameras planted in hotel rooms and vacation rentals without your knowledge. A homeowner in Florida was recently arrested and charged with video voyeurism for doing just that.

Last month, a married couple from Indiana rented a vacation property in Longboat Key, Florida. The man discovered a hidden camera, secretly recording guests in the bedroom.

The rental is a condo that the couple found on Airbnb with the address 623 Cedars Court. Police want to spread the word about this rental property in particular because they say there are still victims out there who don't know about the situation.

These creepy situations happen more than you know. Not long ago, Kim Komando actually found a slew of indoor surveillance cameras in a private home she rented through Airbnb. Click here to read how Kim handled the situation.

It turns out that the property Kim rented did disclose in the listing at the very end that there were security cameras in the house. In retrospect, Kim said, "I should have asked the host some very pointed questions such as the exact number of cameras, the location of the cameras, whether the cameras were recording, and what happens to those recordings after my stay."

Not everyone is notified of security cameras though. There are plenty of unseemly people out there placing hidden cameras in rental properties. Keep reading to find out how to spot one and what to do if you do.

How to spot and disable cameras

Cameras come in all shapes and sizes. There are larger ones that look like cameras, which are easy to spot. Smaller cameras, such as the Nest Dropcam, can slip behind furnishings, decorations or vents. Then there are spy cameras that hide in everyday objects like alarm clocks, smoke detectors, stuffed animals or picture frames.

A simple way to spot most types of cameras is to look for the lens reflection. This requires turning off the lights and slowly scanning the room with a flashlight, or laser pointer, looking for bright reflections.

It works even better if you’re looking through something like an empty roll of toilet paper because it narrows your focus. Be sure to scan the room from multiple spots so you don’t miss a camera pointed only at certain places.

You should also do a close visual inspection of the vents, as well as any holes or gaps in the walls or ceilings. Fortunately, for a camera to see you, you have to be able to see it as well, so it can’t be entirely hidden.

In addition to lens detection, you can also get an RF detector. This can pick up wireless cameras within 10 feet or so. Some of the expensive ones have screens to show you what the camera is seeing. Unfortunately, RF detectors aren’t great for wired or record-only cameras. For those, you’ll need to stick with the lens reflection method.

If you can connect to the rental’s wireless network, a free program like Wireless Network Watcher shows which gadgets are connected. You might be able to spot connected cameras. Just be aware that the owner might have put the cameras on a second network, or they could be wired or record-only types.

If the rental property is controlled by a home automation system, it’s fairly easy to find cameras. Open the system controller menu and look for anything mentioning cameras. Accordingly, scan the TV channels for anything suspicious.

What to do if you find a camera

If the presence of indoor surveillance cameras was not disclosed to you, the answer is simple: Pick up the phone and call the police. Tell them you have direct evidence that someone is spying on you, without your knowledge or permission, inside your rental. Use this exact phrase.

While you’re waiting for police to arrive, document the situation with video and photos on your smartphone. If you are traveling with others, ask them to be witnesses. Remind them they were about to be victimized too.

Once you have your police report, contact the rental site.

Make no mistake. Stumbling over surveillance cameras isn’t just creepy. This is a big deal involving your basic constitutional rights and the law.

Don't forget to share this article with family and friends. Simply press the share button along the left-hand side of the page to post it to Facebook. They will be glad that you warned them about this creepy situation.

Now that you're thinking about travel safety, here are 5 things you should never post on Facebook while on vacation

It's natural: When you're on vacation, you want to brag. You get on social media and tell everyone about what you've been up to. Travel and Facebook were practically designed for each other. But you should wait until you're safely settled back at home to post certain things.

Click here for five types of posts to avoid.

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