Ways to detect hidden cameras amid reports of AirBNB spying

How you can protect yourself and look for hidden cameras in AirBNB rentals.

HOUSTON - We found an AirBNB rental near the U of H that features a comfy bed, couch, coffee maker, and even scented candles.

There are also surveillance cameras in common areas.

“But definitely not in any private space like the bedroom or bathroom,” said host Ed Pettitt. Pettitt has hosted more than a thousand AirBNB guests. He has cameras around the property for security reasons.

“You can have those cameras outside your home and in common areas like the kitchen or living room,” said Pettitt.

Cameras hidden in private spaces have recently captured headlines around the globe. There’s even a report of a woman finding one hidden in a Houston AirBNB.

“They can be in anything,” said Central Spy Shop manager Keely Fuller. It was creepy to find out some of the places cameras can hide. There’s even a working smart phone charger that conceals a pin hole camera.

“They’ve definitely gotten smaller in recent years, definitely more covert,” said Fuller.

Fortunately, technology has also developed ways to expose them. There's one detector that uses red light to identify even the tiniest of lenses. Meanwhile, other devices detect WiFi and other signals.

“Your vibrations and your lights will go up as you get close to the items,” said Fuller.  “And tell you what kind of signal it’s putting off.”

Fuller suggests you always assume you’re being watched, no matter where you are.

“I feel like the trust and safety that’s built into the AirBNB platform is more than you’d find even in your typical hotel or motel experience,” said Pettitt.

He believes that, chances are, you have nothing to fear.

According to reports, hosts were suspended and guests reimbursed in those publicized cases where hidden cameras were found.

AirBNB sent KHOU 11 the following statement:

There have been over 260 million guest arrivals in Airbnb listings and egregious incidents like this are incredibly rare. Airbnb takes privacy extremely seriously and there is absolutely no place in our community for this kind of behavior. When we are made aware of a report we permanently ban the bad actor from our platform, fully support those affected, and work with law enforcement to help ensure justice will be served. Cameras are never allowed in bathrooms or bedrooms. Any other cameras must be properly disclosed to guests ahead of time.

Click here to read AirBNB's surveillance policy. 

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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