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The Secrets to Finding Hidden Cameras

by on July 26, 2017
in Health and Home, Cameras and Photography, Home Safety & Security, Tips & How-Tos :: 88 comments

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, a Chipoltle employee in Texas was accused of planting a hidden camera in the women's bathroom. In California, a Comfort Inn employee was arrested for installing a light bulb with a built-in camera above the toilet in one of the guest rooms — and these tiny, inconspicuous cameras can be easily bought online.

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 Spy Hidden Camera Detector ($2.99); 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 are 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, try the Wired & Wireless Camera Detector ($99). 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. For finding the hidden camera, hold the viewfinder to your eye and look around the room until it spots something. 

If you're looking for professional grade equipment, try the Stealth Camera Lens Finder ($445). 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. It can uncover hidden cameras even if they're turned off.

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 7/26/2017 with new products picks.]



Discussion loading

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bad experience

From Cobol on December 17, 2016 :: 2:13 pm

I had an horrible experience when i discovered cameras and microphones in the ceiling fan of my luxury apartment. I heard yelling and screaming, and threatening comments outside my door after this discovery.
I then had a knock on my door and it was the police who forced there way in my apartment, and out of nowhere said i had a mental illness and needed to be taken to the mental hospital. They did just that against my will, and the doctors at the hospital would not believe me when i told them about the video and audio surveillance going on where i live.
I was forced to take medication against my will, because i became visibly upset. When i was released two weeks later, and got home i discovered an eviction notice at my door. Everything was put back together in my apartment with the ceiling fans. When i took them apart again, i discovered the cameras and microphones were removed.
It turns out i moved into an organized crime community who likes to spy on everybody to protect there criminal operation. This experience has left me permanently on edge. I hope nobody has to go through what i have been through.

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Same thing I think

From Angel Rose on December 19, 2016 :: 12:00 pm

My husband and I know there are recording devices in our apartment. We have found some and the owner didn’t seem to care. People come in every time we leave and break things, as well as paint spots to act like they’re there in case they’re caught. The landlord won’t fix anything he said in the beginning and I can’t afford spy cams which if i did, we would win. Have you had any help? Who would you call about landlord laws and such ? I am so lost and he is disabled and we r always mistreated. I need help! Thanks!

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Sorry to hear that.

From Laura on March 24, 2018 :: 7:49 pm

Sorry to hear that.  You sound rational and logical so I’m assuming you’re telling the truth.  I went through something similar.  Had proof, and still got sent to the mental hospital by the cops.  In my case it was some hacker guy who I used to live with 10 years ago.  Sad that people automatically assume you’re crazy when you go through this stuff.  He was sending lots of threatening stuff to my computer too at the time, so I really was paranoid.

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Bingo

From Ak on April 09, 2018 :: 2:16 am

I went through the EXACT SAME THING, I would love to speak with you about this so we can both crunch our heads together on a solution.

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Please email me im 34

From Lulu on June 16, 2018 :: 9:47 pm

Please email me im 34 f.  This is slowly happening to me.  Its called gang stalking.  Look it up.  Hope to hear from you. Yes its a real email lol

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My email is thebombdotcombiatch@gmail.com someone

From Lulu on June 16, 2018 :: 9:52 pm

My email is .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) someone email me please.

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well the problem is, in

From Laura Odell on June 16, 2018 :: 10:30 pm

well the problem is, in more 95% of cases, probably more like 99, you’re not actually be gang-stalked, and the majority of people who think they are, are just paranoid, or schizophrenic, so gang-stalking is a pretty good way to make someone look insane to cops, etc. who is actually experiencing that, also not much point going to a psychiatrist for the stress for it, or a counselor, since it’s hard to get emotional support who doubts you are telling the truth, or just flat out doesn’t believe you.  I also saw lots of lulu, lala, lololo, el see, see el, all this “l” type stuff why they were doing this to me.  what a coincidence. delulu, lala land, limited liability company LLC, what a coincidence.

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i mean if you want

From Laura Odell on June 16, 2018 :: 10:38 pm

i mean if you want to gangstalk someone because you think they need to be punished for some reason, some revenge thing, or just think it is funny to gangstalk, maybe you have some sort of sadistic personality disorder, whatever, and like to send people to the loony bin, then go in there and harrass them so the staff thing you’re nuts too, i don’t know, it’s actually very effective if you want to ruin someone’s life or reputation or whatever, especially when someone has a disease that causes people to have serious health complications from the drugs they like to pump you up on there, not that i had to take them or anything but i knew i was sick, and that my brain was overreacting to it and i wanted it to go away, even if i have to go through with this being fat, diabetic, whatever it is going on with me for another 5 years or whatever.  By the sounds of it, the guy slandered me to these people stalking me but maybe i’m just imagining it, i definitely felt i was here because people think i needed to punished, and the best thing for me would be as close to death as possible without dying, thanks. i have no idea what’s going on though, all i see is pictures people use to communicate with me which could mean a million different things.

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Whats sad is your in

From Lulu on June 16, 2018 :: 10:43 pm

Whats sad is your in denial about ut. I have video of it happening to me. My family is in on it. I live at my fathers amd he has my car bugged my room bugged.  He has people follow me. They tried to poison mytea cup Chihuahua!!!!!! I need a support group ihave no kids and no husband no boyfriend. No friends no job. My real name isn’t lulu i factory reset my phone so i had to make up info to use the thing. Gang stalked is a thing. Look it up.  I dont go to cops OBVIOUSLY.  All i know is i thought i could get some help and guidance here. So when i saw other women going through the same thing as me i had hope.  Btw gang stalking isn’t by a “street gang”  not sure if you even know what im trying to say. Thanks for responding.

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There are studies about this

From Laura Odell on June 16, 2018 :: 10:47 pm

There are studies about this and like 99% of people claiming to be gangstalked are schizophrenic.  I’m assuming the psychiatrists and police also know that it’s almost always schizophrenia.  And yes, I know the difference.

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bug detector

From james on December 20, 2016 :: 6:37 pm

is it normal for a hidden cam/bug detector to beep/go off when close to ceiling light, fridge/freezer and the roof?

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Microcamera Spia

From Telecameraspia on December 27, 2016 :: 7:14 am

As creepy as it sounds, they actually sell these now. They’re cameras disguised as shampoo or body wash bottles. The top half of these sneaky little spy cams is actually a refillable container for legitimate shower gel and the bottom half houses the camera circuitry. They are also advertised as water-resistant, equipped with motion detection and a remote.

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The Secrets to Finding Hidden Cameras

From Agent__X01 on January 19, 2017 :: 11:10 am

1- Big brother uses radio frequencies that are outside the range of detectors available to the public.Thus, you might detected the little brothers only.

2- Buying such devices probably will prompt big brother to put you on one of their myriad of watching lists

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Big brother

From Me on August 27, 2017 :: 1:07 pm

My issue has been going on since 2015 I used to be able to hear the feedback squeel until I said it out loud


I’m pretty sure big brother is watching them watch us

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Your Mobile Phone Camera Will Detect infra red light.

From Travis Matthew Wells on February 24, 2017 :: 1:53 am

I’m really surprised this wasn’t mentioned. Most hiden cameras use infra red light mot visible to the human eye to illuminate the area being recorded. Turn on your cell phone camera, turn off the flash, walk around the room carefully scanning all areas. The infra red light will be highly visable to your cell phone’s camera and will show up very clearly. It’s usually a purple-like color and very bright. It works better the darker you can make the room. If the room is completely dark it will show up VERY EASILY AND CLEARLY. Not all hidden cams use infra red, but most do.

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Oh my! goodness gracious, Ricky Bobby!!!

From Mudda phawka phawka hawd hawd on April 09, 2017 :: 5:48 pm

After reading all the comments, I’d just like to make a couple observational statements that could be of benefit to those willing to listen with understanding. Almost all of you people are straight fucking nuts. The bumbling stupidity and illiteracy combined with an array of mental disorder, appears to possibly reach an overwhelming state, that the term “borderline insane” becomes a logical and common descriptive phrase when you reach the end. I couldn’t help but crack up, by bursting out with laughter. I just couldn’t help myself, and for that I’d like to thank those few fucking morons of the group, whoever the fuck they were. There was one thing mentioned throughout the entire website that has some intellectual and future logical value. In case the future visitors are all completely and utterly clueless or semi-retarded like the visitors commenting above, I will point out this valuable information so it doesn’t go over your heads. I’m talking about the mentioning of infrared commonly coexisting with a significant amount of cameras out there. Infrared can be seen by most cameras, such as your cell phone. Tip: make sure it is dark as possible when using this method to find out that nobody gives a shit about you or what you do with you hands in the shower during your spare time. Reality check your not worth all that effort regardless of who you are, even the special short bus riding group above. Thanks for the laughter, I needed that shit.

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borderline insane” becomes a logical and common descriptive phrase

From Acid on July 04, 2017 :: 8:16 pm

Obviously, you are with the “in group” of gang stalkers,  trying very hard to discredit the people in this comment section.

You are a little late.  There are over 300 books by very reliable authors: Doctors, Ex FBI, etc. who certainly dispute your so very clever post. 

Just look up “books on gang stalking” on the web. This should answer many questions for those who are in this very miserable circumstance.

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Your my idol. Please email

From Lulu on June 16, 2018 :: 9:59 pm

Your my idol. Please email me..  34 f on east coast.  Going through gang stalking early stages
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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Yep, I was right!

From JAMIE on April 09, 2017 :: 6:01 pm

So after almost 2 1/2 years, I’ve finally found cameras in my Living room ceiling fan, tv’s and mirrors. I filed for divorce last month and my attorney sent someone to sweep the house this week since I kept insisting I was being watched and sure enough, he found them almost immediately!!! Cannot wait to see how this helps my pending divorce case!

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Yikes!

From Josh Kirschner on April 10, 2017 :: 10:11 am

You should make sure you protect yourself from the possibility he may have been spying on your phone, computer and electronic accounts, as well.

Here’s our advice on phone spying: https://www.techlicious.com/tip/how-to-tell-if-your-phone-has-been-hacked/

Protecting your email: https://www.techlicious.com/tip/what-to-do-when-your-email-gets-hacked/

And antimalware recommendations for your computer: https://www.techlicious.com/guide/best-windows-mac-antivirus-security-software/

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Hidden Cameras

From Carol on July 27, 2017 :: 9:00 am

If you have an android phone, Google Play has apps that you can install and use to find hidden cameras.

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Please Help Me Locate these Spy Cams

From Trebor Parz on October 25, 2017 :: 9:45 pm

I have been spyed bymy suspected Neighborhoos for several years now,  I even saw a Spy camera in our House Ceiling area that was pulled up by this spying person/s.  I already went to our Police Stations, Barangays Personnel< National Bureau Of Investigation under Cyber Crime Groups but to no avail of their supports, they ususally told me to produce hard evidence or proof on spying activities made by these people,  But how can I produce these items if you can hardly seen it by your eyes in regular daily basis.  That’s the reason why I asked for their help to resolve my long time dilemma.  They kept doing to us everyday until now and consistently kept spying on me.  I believe they got huge money on doing this perhaps from their financier/s.  You may help me how to check and locate these spy cameras and recorders too.  I’ve heard sweeping device can be much better but how can I dp it?  Thanks a lot.

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Yes

From Jason Lane Sr. on November 05, 2017 :: 3:47 pm

Yes

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cameras are literally...EVERYWHERE!!!!

From Jack on January 05, 2018 :: 7:29 am

In phones, notebooks, chargers, flash-drives, pens, etc - camera can be mounted literally in anything. Don’t be a spy-victim, use a camera detectors to ensure your privacy.

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What's the best resource to find the hidden cameras?

From Anthony Taylor on January 24, 2018 :: 7:30 am

Finding a hidden cameras is not an easy task. It depends on the place where you want to find a hidden camera, because at different places cameras can be placed at different positions.

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Finding hidden camera

From Alex on January 24, 2018 :: 7:36 am

In hotel room check every where if there is any cameras. If you have any bug detector just try them for finding cameras.

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Spy Camera

From Sherif on February 14, 2018 :: 9:35 am

I want to install spy camera very simple to install and without any cable and can access from my smartphone from anywhere in the world, Can you give me your recommendation please.

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See our Best Home Security Camera story

From Josh Kirschner on February 14, 2018 :: 11:08 am

We did a review of the best home security cameras. There are some very good options in there. We don’t review actual “spy cameras”, since these are more likely to be used for illegitimate purposes.

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Just live life as they don't exist

From Privacy invaded too on February 20, 2018 :: 9:19 pm

I too have apprehensive feelings my privacy has been invaded.

Only saying this after I have found material proof that ppl have been in my home when I was out. If I had no proof I’d never even utter these words, fearing the mental health issues such paranoia brings.

Who is worse? Those being watched or the watchers… Its been a blast doing things to misinform such assholes.

And those who think it fun to spy, would you accept such treatment to u or ones you love… In time I’m sure that what starts out as fun and games might become an arduous chore, taking up many hours.

Remember as much as it seems the world hates you,I guarantee that at least one person loves u and would be outraged your privacy has been stolen…

THE START OF THE END OF ALL OUR RIGHTS TO PRIVACY IN OUR OWN HOME… PITY ONE S+++T RUINS IT FOR EVERYONE…

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Do these comments have to

From Laura on March 24, 2018 :: 7:50 pm

Do these comments have to be approved or did my comment get blocked.  The guy has remote access to my computer and I think he blocks my comments sometimes.

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Your comment did not get blacked

From Josh Kirschner on March 25, 2018 :: 3:53 pm

Your original comment is on the first page under the comment of the person you replied to. There is no way someone could be remotely blocking your comments - they don’t control what comments get blocked on our site, we do.

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Oh, ok, thanks! Didn't see

From Laura on March 25, 2018 :: 5:44 pm

Oh, ok, thanks! Didn’t see it at first, well I certainly have someonone with remote access to my computer and they can change the coding on websites, or how it shows up on my side it seems, so I wasn’t sure.  The first thing they did thing was post a bunch of fake pictures on some IGs that I follow.

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Bilbo

From Crazee Carl on April 05, 2018 :: 12:51 pm

My wife had one in her Bilbo. No one ever thought of looking there!!

She’d stand that sucker fully erect ...all 10” of it on the Mantle.

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I can give you my

From Lulu on June 16, 2018 :: 10:08 pm

I can give you my 4 yr old babysitter phone number. Since your mentally challenged.  looks like you need someone to look after you.

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alarming

From Joppy Faith on June 17, 2018 :: 8:46 am

I can’t decide if your post is in ernest and thus you are in danger or if you are just crazy.. if your living situation is truly as you describe then MOVE.. don’t waste time with all this camera detection and police as your situation could instantly change to something far worse… all my Hope’s to you

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Hidden cameras and audio bugs in my apartment

From Cris on July 13, 2018 :: 3:55 am

Hello, can someone help me figure out how to find these hidden video and audio cameras that are all over in my apartment , its been going on for almost one full year and its really stressfull and annoying.

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nice information about hidden camera

From mahesh goug on November 15, 2018 :: 11:07 pm

nice information about hidden camera detector . thanks for sharing

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