Hidden cameras: Warning signs and how to fight back

LINCOLN COUNTY, N.C. — You and your family might be traveling to a new place this holiday season, but there’s no guarantee that the person before you respects your privacy.

Channel 9 has reported on several recent cases of adults using hidden cameras to spy on children. One of those cases was in a bathroom at a home in Lincolnton.

In another case, a camera was hidden in the bathroom of an airplane headed from Charlotte to Boston. A family said their daughter was the one who found it.

“She went to the bathroom and when she turned around to flush the toilet seat after, she realized that there was a phone taped under the tape,” her father said.

The girl’s father asked not to share his name or face to protect his daughter. He wants others to be aware that privacy isn’t always protected.

“Your mind is not thinking you’re going to see something like this on an airplane,” he said. “That’s just shocking.”

But cameras can be hidden anywhere. In another case earlier this year, a passenger was charged with hiding a camera in a cruise ship bathroom. He’s accused of recording more than 150 people, including at least 40 children.

“We see a lot of stories where it’s becoming more and more prevalent because it’s easier for people to put these cameras in their residences -- and just public places, for that matter,” said Det. Dylan Houser with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office.

Houser is not investigating any of these cases, though he said he’s worked on similar cases involving hidden cameras.

“People used to have old-school cameras that they would hide behind walls or mirrors, or in ceiling tiles,” he said. “And now, it’s just a whole lot easier to put these things in plain view right out in front of them.”

That’s why Det. Houser’s first tip is to seek out items that look out of place. Check for small holes that could be hidden cameras, and look out for random wires or blinking lights in vents.

“The basic part is going to be as far as being aware of where you are at,” Houser said. “Things that may be out of place for that particular area, especially in areas where you expect privacy, like a restroom or a locker room -- of that nature.”

Channel 9′s Erika Jackson shared these tips with colleague Michelle Alfini.

“Now that you have that advice, can you find the four cameras that are hidden?” Jackson asked.

Alfini found a key fob camera, as well as the secret camera wall charger and fake smoke detector. She found those three in under 10 minutes, but Jackson had to point out the spy camera behind a tablet.

Det. Houser recommends sharing these tips with your child: Scope out a bedroom or restroom beforehand if they’re going in alone. Most importantly, make sure everyone in your family follows their gut.

“Instinct is always something to rely on,” Houser said. “If you see something, say something.”

Earlier this year, Jackson looked into how to spot hidden cameras using other pieces of technology. Wi-Fi-enabled cameras trigger a Wi-Fi connection. You can find those in your smart phone’s settings.

You can also buy a lens detector online to see a blinking red light on many spy cameras.

(WATCH BELOW: Watch out, your gift card may already have a $0 balance)

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