Searching for hidden cameras in hotel rooms and rentals is an emerging trend as more and more people report the invasion of privacy. USA TODAY


It’s a horrifying scenario — finding a hidden camera in your hotel room or vacation rental. And unfortunately, it’s also a recently emerging trend as more and more people report this invasion of privacy. Protect yourself by learning how to check for hidden cameras in your vacation rental or hotel room.

How to look for a camera

I interviewed a technical surveillance countermeasures and intelligence expert from Advanced Operational Concepts who goes by the nickname “The Monk” (he declined to be named due to the sensitive nature of his work). The Monk has searched for hidden devices in conflict zones for the highest levels of the U.S. military’s Special Operations community.

Here’s his advice for looking for a hidden camera.

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“There are essentially three primary methods for checking for a hidden camera: scanning of radio frequencies, lens detection and physical search. Many handheld devices that do RF scanning and lens detection are available on the commercial market, with most costing less than $100. However, no single method is going to be 100 percent accurate.

“RF scanning, for example, will only help in identifying a device if that device is actively transmitting. If the data is transmitted only at intervals, then an RF scanner will be fairly useless.

“Lens detection is very effective if used properly, but it requires patience and proper technique. If you are too far from the lens, sweep the room too quickly or are just standing at the wrong angle from the lens, then you’ll likely miss seeing the lens when it reflects the light from your own light source.

“Physical inspection can be the most thorough method, but this requires both patience and access that you may not have. If you can’t get away with prying open smoke detectors, opening the backs of paintings, and possibly opening a section of a wall to see if anything is inside, then you won’t be able to complete a full and proper physical search.

“When faced with these types of limitations, often it is best to utilize a hybrid of all three search methods to whatever extent you find possible. You may not be able to achieve 100 percent confidence that the space is clear of hidden devices, but you’ll be a lot closer than you were when you first walked into the room.”