Guests finding hidden cameras in vacation rentals

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Hidden cameras are getting smaller and more common. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Hidden cameras are getting smaller and more common. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Technology and privacy are colliding with a travel trend that is seeing vacationers ditch the hotels and choosing rental homes instead. The problem is hidden cameras. Travelers are finding them in homes they are renting while on vacation.

One lawsuit in California names a big vacation rental company as a defendant after visitors from Germany discovered a hidden camera in the living room of the home they were renting.

"Every state is different. There's no federal law on the subject. So, you're always looking at state laws or city laws," said James Goodnow, an attorney and legal analyst.

Goodnow's law firm has privacy information posted online here. He says there are generally three areas that are off-limits for hidden cameras. They are bedrooms, bathrooms and pools.

"There's actually a statute in Arizona that says you cannot film in those areas. And if you do without the person's consent, it's punishable under criminal law," said Goodnow.

While bedrooms may be off-limits, common areas, such as living rooms, are a gray area.

"I was pretty surprised to see the cameras inside," said Kim Komando, who hosts a weekly syndicated radio show that focuses on the digital world.

She spotted seven hidden cameras in the common areas of a home she rented recently. 

"When I identified the cameras, I immediately covered them all up," said Komando.

She also wrote about the incident in a blog post and in a column in a national newspaper. You can read about her experience and get her advice for avoiding hidden cameras in rentals here.

One of the problems is that the cameras are getting smaller and less expensive.

Skye Vasconcellos, who manages the Phoenix Spy Shop, sells cameras that look like alarm clocks and lenses that will fit just about anywhere. He also sells RF detectors and lens finders that help people spot hidden cameras and listening devices.

"We get calls every day," said Vasconcellos, when asked how often people call about devices that can spot hidden cameras.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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Morgan  LoewMorgan Loew is an investigative reporter at CBS 5 News. His career has taken him to every corner of the state, lots of corners in the United States, and some far-flung corners of the globe.

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Morgan Loew
CBS 5 Investigates

Morgan’s past assignments include covering the invasion of Iraq, human smuggling in Mexico, vigilantes on the border and Sheriff Arpaio in Maricopa County. His reports have appeared or been featured on CBS News, CNN, NBC News, MSNBC and NPR.

Morgan’s peers have recognized his work with 11 Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards , two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for investigative reporting, an SPJ First Amendment Award and a commendation from the Humane Society of the United States. Last fall, Morgan was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle, in recognition of 25 years of contribution to the television industry in Arizona.

Morgan is a graduate of the University of Arizona journalism school and Concord Law School. He is the president of the Arizona First Amendment Coalition and teaches media law and TV news reporting at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

When he’s not out looking for the next big news story, Morgan enjoys hiking, camping, cheering for the Arizona Wildcats and spending time with his family at their southern Arizona ranch.

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