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The Secrets to Finding Hidden Cameras

by on June 22, 2016
in Health and Home, Cameras and Photography, Home Safety & Security, Tips & How-Tos :: 41 comments

The Secrets to Finding Hidden Cameras

Now that tech is smaller and cheaper than ever, it's become easy to install cameras almost anywhere. In fact, once you start looking, you may realize that cameras are everywhere: on traffic signals, in parking lots and inside stores. If you're reading this article on your phone while waiting for your morning coffee, there's probably a camera keeping an eye on you right now. You may even have some "hidden" cameras of your own, like Dropcams for home security, nanny cams to watch the baby or a doorbell camera to see who's knocking.

These cameras have plenty of perfectly legitimate uses. They can provide security in public spaces and prevent theft in businesses. The problems arise when they're used for nefarious purposes, which happens more often than any of us would like. A lawsuit against Airbnb over a reported hidden camera in a rental property is ongoing. Just this year, an apartment maintenance worker in Ohio was accused of planting hidden cameras in residents’ bathrooms. In Florida, cameras disguised as coat hooks were found in bathrooms in the Keys—and these tiny, inconspicuous cameras can be easily bought online on Amazon for as little as $13.

Browsing Amazon for hidden cameras is a little disconcerting. Cameras are disguised as alarm clocks, power adapters, smoke detectors, photo frames and even water bottles, most of them wireless and battery powered. These cameras are easy to obtain, and most require no technical skills to install, meaning anyone with ill intent could place them in a public place and watch you when you're unaware.

Aren't Hidden Cameras Illegal?

Laws pertaining to hidden cameras vary from state to state, so you'll want to check your local laws to find out the specifics in your area. The matter typically comes down to where you can expect to have a "reasonable expectation of privacy." There are certain spaces you would expect to be private, like bathrooms, dressing rooms, hotel rooms and locker rooms, and surveillance cameras placed in such areas are typically illegal. (However, if a sign informs you that you're under surveillance somewhere like outside a dressing area in a store where there are cameras to discourage theft, the cameras are typically considered legal.) In spaces that aren’t private, like browsing a shopping mall or walking down a city street, cameras are typically legal whether they're hidden or not.

Of course, the fact that hidden cameras might be illegal doesn't stop people from placing them, so it's up to you to remain vigilant.

How Can You Be Sure You're Not Being Recorded?

Cameras are small and often disguised, so the first thing to do is to take a look around. Not everyone placing a hidden camera does it in the smartest way, and you may be able to find them with a careful examination of the room. Look for the following tell-tale signs.

  • Wires in unexpected places or wires that don't seem to go anywhere While many cameras are wireless, unexplained wiring could lead to a hidden camera.
  • Lights A camera designed to be stealthy won't have any obvious signs like this, but cameras not designed to be hidden often do, and if the person who placed the camera wasn't careful, this can be an obvious giveaway.
  • Small holes in walls or other places It only takes a pinhole for a camera lens to see into a room. Some types of hidden cameras take advantage of this by hiding in innocuous objects with a small hole for the camera.
  • Objects out of the ordinary If you're in a familiar place, look for anything that's new or has been moved.

Another low-tech method of finding hidden cameras is to listen. While this won't catch every camera, some motion-sensitive cameras make a soft click or buzz as they turn on when someone walks by. In a noisy environment, you definitely won't be able to hear them, but if you're in a place where you can turn off lights, radios, televisions and other sources of sound, you may be able to hear a camera activate.

Unfortunately, the above methods aren’t foolproof — but don’t give up just yet. While not all hidden cameras produce obvious visible (or audible) signs of their presence, every camera has a lens that reflects light whether it's on or off. You should be able to spot a camera by doing a thorough scan of the room with a light source, looking for a glint of light as it reflects off the camera sensor. This method still isn't perfect, as you'll need to shine the light from the right angle and, with some devices, be fairly close to the camera to spot it.

The most straightforward way to find a hidden lens using a light source is to turn off the lights and pan a flashlight around the room. Go slowly, and examine suspicious places from multiple angles. If you see glints of light where there shouldn't be — areas where there are no mirrors, glass or other reflective surfaces — you may have found a camera. Mirrors can be suspicious, too, because you won't be able to see a camera hidden behind them.

Make your search easier by using a camera-detecting app on your smartphone. These apps use your smartphone's flash to light up camera lenses and help you detect them, though many have received negative reviews, which speaks to how tough it can be to spot a hidden camera. For iPhone, there's Hidden Camera Detector ($3.99); for Android, try Glint Finder (free, with advertisements). Hidden Camera Detector is a bit more helpful, as it automatically pinpoints suspected cameras on your phone's screen. Glint Finder, on the other hand, flashes your smartphone's light rapidly to make it easier to pick up a reflection, but it's on you to find the source. With either app, you'll need to be within a few feet of a camera to spot it.

The advantage of these apps is cost and accessibility. While you can purchase professional-grade camera detectors (more on those in a minute), they come with a notable price tag, while these apps are very affordable. And if you need to hunt for a camera unexpectedly, you're likely to already have your smartphone with you. If nothing else, these apps make a good stop-gap method for finding hidden cameras until you get a better solution.
 

Wired and Wireless Camera Detector

Get a Hidden Camera Detector

A professional-quality hidden camera detector is both easier to use and more effective. You can get one for around $100. Professional detectors offer two methods of finding a camera: either they look for that glint from the lens (much like using a flashlight or smartphone), or they detect RF broadcasts from a wireless camera. Some detectors rely on one technology or the other (the cheapest detectors pick up RF), while pricier models include both, a combination of features that's effective at finding different kinds of cameras.

To make visually finding a hidden camera easier, detectors use multiple flashing LED lights — or in more expensive models, lasers — to help light up camera lenses. They're as simple to use as a flashlight. Simply hold them up to your eye (make sure the lights are facing away from your eye) and activate them while looking around the room. Just like a flashlight or smartphone, you'll have to hit the camera from the right angle to tell it's there, so you'll want to take a slow, careful look around the room, focusing on specific areas where a camera might be hidden. A camera lens should light up in the detector's viewfinder, making it easy to spot.

Detecting cameras via RF can be even easier. Most detectors will beep when they find a signal, giving an audible indication when you get near a potential camera. The snag with RF detectors is that there are lots of gadgets that can transmit RF, which means these detectors will either send you straight to a camera or on a wild goose chase for a lot of things that aren't cameras. On top of that, if the camera is turned off or simply not transmitting, there won't be anything for the RF detector to pick up. In the end, even though it takes more time, using a detector that looks for camera lenses can be more effective.

If you're looking to upgrade from an app to a stand-alone detector, the Mini Hidden Camera Detector ($99.95) is a simple and affordable option. At just over four inches long, it's small enough to easily fit into a purse, and it uses simple, one-button activation. It doesn't detect RF, but that helps keep it simple to use. For a detector that can help you root out RF frequencies too, try the Wired & Wireless Camera Detector ($129.95). It's a bit larger than the Mini Hidden Camera Detector but still small enough to carry around. For finding camera lenses, it works just like the Mini; hold the viewfinder to your eye, turn it on, and look around the room until it spots something. Detecting RF is still simple, though it requires a few more button presses. When turned on, the detector can be set up to vibrate or beep to tell you you're near something that's transmitting, letting you know you could be near a hidden camera even when it's tucked in your pocket.

What Should I Do if I Find a Hidden Camera?

Even though you can find cameras on your own with a detector, it's best to contact the authorities if you do find one. Your local police will not only be able to remove the camera but also find whoever put it there — and keep them from spying on you or anyone else.

[Images: hidden camera concept via Shutterstock, Brickhouse Security]

[The article was updated on 6/22/2016 with new products and apps.]



Discussion loading

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What's given to the children

From Randy Clendenin on December 13, 2011 :: 7:58 pm

He gives the children a copy in Blue Ray, Dolby-a DVD of the Kung Fu Panda 2-which includes his voice of Po’s father Mr. Ping.

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uh... what?

From palescoot on August 03, 2016 :: 4:20 pm

What on earth are you talking about?

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unable to find a hidden camera

From Leila on October 14, 2012 :: 8:38 am

Hi,

i have purchased the following camera tracker Spy Hawk Maxi-Tech Pocket Pro “Defender” Personal Bug Sweep Detector at first i can find the hidden spy camera but the people who installed another hidden spy camera are professional in spying therefore by using the same machine Spy Hawk Maxi-Tech Pocket Pro “Defender” Personal Bug Sweep Detector i am unable to find the spy hidden camera but i am 100% sure its there.
why am i not being able to find the spy hidden camera this time, i googled & find out that it exist spy hidden cameras that are undetectable.
what makes these spy hidden cameras undetectable? or should i purchase another detector?

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First of all, how do

From Josh Kirschner on October 16, 2012 :: 9:44 am

First of all, how do you know there is a hidden camera? Maybe it’s not finding one because there isn’t one?

The detector you’re using uses flashes of red light to illuminate the camera’s sensor and is only effective up to about 10 feet. Beyond that and you would need a laser emitting detector, like the one in the article above.

Also, it’s possible that some cameras could be hidden from your detector either because it’s behind mirrored glass or otherwise makes the sensor difficult to view.

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is there a camera .....the

From Irene Rojas on November 25, 2012 :: 9:30 pm

is there a camera .....the hunter cant find? for instance like the law enforcement… do they have cameras that the hunter cant find?

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Had a question

From Lisaj209@comcast.net on June 25, 2016 :: 6:34 pm

Hi Im out of Modesto CA I had a question in viewing your post well really two questions. First when you said it could be a camera behind mirrored glass could a camera be hidden behind a glass light fixture. And if possible how small do they get do they need wiring.And if behind a glass fixture up in ceiling can someone or many people still see through. And same for up in a ceiling fan as well.Please get back to me I live around drug dealers and addicts who dont like me my neighbor upstairs deals and smokes all night.They dont like me here and have police come out because people throw bags of cat liter at my door.

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One of my friends too

From Gps Tracker on October 25, 2012 :: 4:56 am

One of my friends too came across such an disorder, I suggested him to use a camera detector for the safety of the House in recent times. They are along with the big horn available and no other chance of misleading the connection even if some other person tries to perform such tasks.  These Security systems must have high visibility theft deterrent, Powder coated-corrosion resistant and also the locking system that prevents to padlock shackle.

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Idiot talk from GPS Tracker so annoying

From mandy on February 02, 2015 :: 2:37 am

you make no sense and sound like a retard…did you graduate? your words dont go together to make sense and its F…g annoying ..trying to read your idiot talk and thinking WHHHHAAAAAT???? What are you trying to say….never mind…i dont even care

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Your comment is just as

From Um . . . on March 04, 2016 :: 6:33 pm

Your comment is just as poorly written.

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There's an app for that

From Roy on November 03, 2013 :: 10:10 pm

There’s an app in iTunes named “Spy Camera Lens Detector”. It works more or less and since it’s free it’s almost a steal.

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How to find hidden camera without advanced device

From Pushpa Naik on February 21, 2014 :: 12:25 pm

If person dont have any camera tracker only has a cell phone is there any possibilities….!!!????

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Privacy inclusion by someone

From Rajaram on February 26, 2014 :: 2:26 am

Hi , after not completing my maters i got and still get a feeling of someone watching my privacy, Can some one help me out ?  i do not mind showing it to good but not to a few .. i cant give a police case since am not able to find any proof.. what i should do ?

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And what about the optical fiber camera network?

From Manuel Cornejo on June 25, 2014 :: 8:33 am

Dear Sirs

There are also cameras place at a distance from the ocular that are communicated by optical fiber. What about these? How can you pinpoint them?

Sincerely

Manuel Cornejo

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Not sure on that

From Josh Kirschner on June 26, 2014 :: 9:24 am

It’s possible that a fiber optic cable would carry the light signal from the detector to the sensor and back again so that it could be picked up by the detector above. But I wouldn’t count on it.

To detect more advanced cameras, you would probably need a device that detects other electronic devices, and scan the room with that. Though even that wouldn’t work if the camera is using a long fiber optic cable and is at a significant physical distance.

But take my advice as speculation, as this is not our primary area of expertise.

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Wireless cameras

From Mikele Gioia on February 18, 2015 :: 7:44 am

Most of the systems (such as IP micro SPY camera, micro, bugs, microphones, microrecorders…), thanks to their technical characteristics and their very small size, are concealeble in many objects. Not everyone, however, when purchasing a surveillance device are capable of concealing the same in an effective and professional manner.
For this Endoacustica Europe offers the expertise of its technicians to provide a quickly and safely service able to fully satisfy its customers.
http://www.endoacustica.com/wireless_cameras_en.htm

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Spycam Detection Training

From Kevin D Murray on July 20, 2015 :: 12:10 pm

Detection gadgets either count on the camera lens being able to reflect the light you shine at them, and/or them transmitting a radio signal. Not all cameras can be discovered via these methods. Education is your best defense.

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Had a question

From Lisaj209@comcast.net on June 25, 2016 :: 6:52 pm

Hi I hope I dont sound crazy but i have a strong wanna say feeling but is beyond that.Ill say reasons to believe there are cmaera or as I heard a neighbor say one too many cameras here in my apartment.One in bedroom and one in kitchen possibly ceiling fan.The problem is no one will believe me but my aunt.She came over a few times and she new.My neighbors have thrown cat fieces at my door and police have came out becauese of it.My question is can a camera been small enough to fit behind a glass fixture up in ceiling behind glass.But up in glass and still be able to see through whe light swithch is on or off.And what about a ceiling fan.How does a women find this by myself.Is it possible.Thank You Out of Modesto Ca Ashwood Village Apaertments..

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Calm Down, Mandy

From Bender Rodriguez on August 19, 2015 :: 4:31 am

The person probably doesn’t speak English much at all and used a translator to make his post. If anything, this should teach lazy high schoolers such as yourself to stop using Google Translate on your Spanish/French/whatever assignments because that’s what it sounds like when you copy/paste what the translator spits out to you—it’s often actually NOT ACCURATE.

Maybe one day you would like to post on a foreign website using a translator and would wish the people to be patient with you in an effort to understand you instead of throwing an unwarranted, petulant teenaged tantrum at you.

He probably said:

One of my friends also had this problem. I suggested he use a camera detector for the safety of his how now. They are available with the “big horn” so that there is no chance of missing a detection no matter who uses it. For theft deterrence, security systems must have high visibility, powder coated, corrosion resistance and also a locking system to prevent shutting it down.

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*house (not "how")

From Bender Rodriguez on August 19, 2015 :: 4:35 am

*house (not “how”)

And I can’t quite figure out what “big horn” was supposed to be. Maybe it’s a logical guess, but I can’t think of it. (Again, an example of how translators give bad advice a lot of the times.)

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How good language in different tongue speak you?

From old english on February 26, 2016 :: 11:36 am

big horn make big noise. Perhaps google meant a loud alarm or siren.
At least he (assumed gender) tried to communicate.

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dumb questions

From Jamie on August 20, 2015 :: 3:47 pm

I have a feeling that my controlling and crazy jealous husband has installed hidden cameras in our home. If this is true, divorce is not far. However, I need to find them first. If they are wireless, don’t they run on my home wireless internet network? Would killing wifi disable them? And do the wireless ones run on battery? How does this work? I’m not a tech savvy person so I’m sorry if my questions seem dumb. I just need help with shutting them down!

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Concerning wireless/IP/wifi cam

From B on September 10, 2015 :: 1:29 pm

Turning off the WiFi might not really help. If they are hidden, it will most likely be on a separate WiFi. Easy way to find out: connect your desktop directly to your wireless router. Download an administrative program for the router ( the one for Netgear routers is pretty versatile, even if it can’t give you complete access, it can show you how many devices are connected). If you can connect, see what is connected to your Wi-Fi. Usually, it will have done detail about the device by default (android dev - usually a phone or tablet, partial tv name for smart tv’s, and laptop/pc names). Web cams, laptops, tv’s, desktop pc’s,etc… all of these can have programs that make it look add if the device is off, when in fact, it can be streaming audio and or video to a server, or backing it up on the hard drive. I keep a sticker on my camera when not in use and a noise canceling sticker ( sometimes small thick bandades work just as well) when I’m not using them. You also have programs on your cellphone that can record and upload your conversations, texts, photos, even be remotely activated to turn on your camera or microphone. I found some of these issues with my mom’s stuff after my father did not want his genius step son to fix a DNS error on her laptop. I suggest ( if you are that afraid of this matter and can’t find it yourself) to call in a pro for a sweep, get a crapy old cell phone that’s prepaid, and keep any pertinent or incriminating conversations/texts on the crap phone and conversations outside the house. Just done thoughts. But, a spouse spying on you in his/ her own home is no longer considered invasion of privacy in most states as it is there residence as will. Good luck.

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Typos

From B on September 10, 2015 :: 1:36 pm

My phone is a dick, but I’m sure you can determine what the typos should be. P.S. just remember that wifi and gps scramblers and jammers are illegal to use in most states unless you are a government employee with a court order, or a member of homeland security. So, i dont suggest you try that route.

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Thank you!

From Jamie on September 10, 2015 :: 2:03 pm

Appreciate the breakdown of the above info. I am probably going to have to have someone do a sweep because a lot of what you said was like reading Chinese or something, lol. Thanks so much for your help though, I truly appreciate it!

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Discount Coupon for Spycam Detection Training

From Kevin D Murray on August 20, 2015 :: 4:02 pm

Sorry to hear it Jamie. I created an on-line spycam detection training course for my corporate clients. It might be a bit more than you need, but here is a 75% off coupon if you think it will help you. Click the Enroll button and type this into the coupon code box… TechL101

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Thank you!

From Jamie on August 20, 2015 :: 9:35 pm

That is awesome and I would love to do it!  How do I get to your webpage? There was no link in your reply. Just curios, how long is the course? I have a very curious 15 month old so I’m trying to figure out what to do with him while I took the course. Again, thank you so much for your help!

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Spycam Detection Training

From Kevin D Murray on August 21, 2015 :: 9:40 am

Hi Jamie,

To reach the website either click on my name or go to http://spycamdetection.training  The coupon will work for any Techlicious reader.

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Please tell me the basic

From SAJITHA.M on October 13, 2015 :: 9:35 pm

Please tell me the basic principle used in hidden camera detector.

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Looking for bug detectors?

From Ameen on January 07, 2016 :: 12:27 pm

Well, if you’re looking for professional bug detectors, you can find a very long list in here:
http://www.jammerspro.com/Bug-detectors.htm

it’s not that hard when you understand how it works

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what the heck

From whattheheck on May 02, 2016 :: 9:30 pm

I googled “secrets to hiding a hidden camera” and I find this page, thinking it’ll help me hide hidden cameras, but no! it’s about how to FIND them! totally the opposite of what I want people to do! I hide hidden cameras so people like you don’t find them! I like to spy on people, it’s awesome! Don’t ruin me and my friends’ fun by finding them! Now, where do I find info on how to successfully hide cameras so your dorks don’t find them!? ps you have idea the fun of spying! smile

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I agree!

From Henry on June 22, 2016 :: 5:56 pm

Yes, “what the heck”, I agree with you! This site is bad and takes away our fun! We should meet up and cause trouble!! All these people crying about if there’s a hidden camera, take it as a compliment! This sites needs taken down!!

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Can't find the cameras in my home

From Trevor on May 22, 2016 :: 8:22 pm

I’ve looked pretty good I’d thought for the little cameras that are in my apartment but I can’t find the damn ed things I know that they are present in my washroom and bedroom and living room I just can not actually find one😨 so I’m going to ask for advice so the pig using this perverted crap can get nailed by the cops.

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there are apps in itunes

From royroy on May 22, 2016 :: 10:44 pm

Search for Spy Hidden Camera Detector in iTunes. Use the manual mode.

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I need help

From Ash on May 28, 2016 :: 11:54 pm

I got a room yesterday night me and my husband and kids my phone was acting crazy picking up frecuencys and the smoke detector just looked different so then I showered and just felt as if I was being watched so I got curious and started looking up makes and models of stuff in the room and somehow it was all linked to the AC including the TV shared test 1 test 2 when you pushed a button cc , so I looked up radio clock TV shower head ND knob and it directed me to some kind of camera I feel very violated and I no one believes me not even the cops I know I’m not crazy I have pictures of everything in that room can someone plz help

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What

From sigh on June 22, 2016 :: 4:15 pm

You could be crazy. Linking a smoke alarm to AC is quite the norm today so you aren’t changing batteries.

You phone was picking up crazy frequencies?  By design, don’t do that so i’m going to need a little more clarification as to what you mean.

I can believe you feel violated but I don’t believe you were being watched.

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Car Camera

From Glenn on June 23, 2016 :: 10:59 am

What kind and where can i get a good dashboard camera for my car?

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EEEEeeeeekkkk!

From Levi on July 01, 2016 :: 5:34 pm

Hate that this is something we have to worry about these days, ugh!  Thanks for the post! 

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Canera Detector

From Adrian on July 11, 2016 :: 3:59 pm

What do you think about “VORON Camera Detector”.

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question

From sabuj on July 27, 2016 :: 5:49 am

Hey I trust I dont sound insane however i have a solid wanna say feeling yet is past that.Ill say motivations to accept there are cmaera or as I heard a neighbor say one excessively numerous cameras here in my apartment.One in room and one in kitchen perhaps roof fan.The issue is nobody will trust me yet my aunt.She came over a couple times and she new.My neighbors have tossed feline fieces at my entryway and police have turned out becauese of it.My inquiry is can a camera been sufficiently little to fit behind a glass apparatus up in roof behind glass.But up in glass and still have the capacity to see through whe light swithch is on or off.And shouldn’t something be said about a roof fan.How does a ladies discover this by myself.Is it possible.Thank You Out of Modesto Ca Ashwood Village Apaertments..

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Listen

From Jack Dorsey on August 05, 2016 :: 4:13 am

Also, when it’s maintanence employee / next door neighbor: just observe their reactions that you naturally hear through thin walls. Easier to hear than a camera’s buzz… and unintelligent spies who know how thin the walls are still forget.

Trouble is whether to remove them until you have found more; then call LE and a lawyer. Payday because some people have no lives and need to spy on others (who may also have no life… hahaha).

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BRAIN and SATELLITE SURVEILLANCE

From Dawn on August 19, 2016 :: 8:52 am

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