Spy cameras – what are they and why would I use one?

by | Pakatak Products

What are Spy Cameras and How Can You Use Them?

Spy cameras are increasingly becoming a popular security and surveillance tool for both businesses and households. With many years of experience, testing and retailing spy cameras we have come to learn what is important to customers in terms of what a camera can do, how easy it is to use, how covert it is etc. They can be great for monitoring property, catching out dishonest employees, dishonest friends or relatives, carer situations and for deterring would-be criminals. In this article, we will discuss what spy cameras are, how they work, and the various ways in which you can use them.

What are Spy Cameras?

Spy cameras are surveillance or security cameras that are usually built into other items, usually everyday household or office equipment, to disguise the fact that they are indeed cameras at all.  This means the user can capture video and audio covertly without the knowledge of the person or people being monitored. The camera and lens will be hidden away inside the object, for instance inside a clock, router, Bluetooth speaker, lamp, smoke detector, PIR sensor etc.  It will be very difficult for anyone to spot the lens and the fact that the object will hopefully blend well with the surroundings make it unlikely to arouse any suspicion at all.  Some have built in infrared but, because they are usually small items, the infrared is often for close range night vision within a room or office setting.  Our cameras are mainly all WiFi enabled; this means that they can be linked wirelessly to a nearby broadband router.  This then allows the user to open a free app on their mobile phone and watch live video footage of the camera location, footage is also available to watch via your mobile phone as almost all hidden cameras will also have a memory card slot for storing recorded video & audio.  Motion detection is a key feature of most hidden spy camera systems too, this means that your camera will only record when there is some action taking place in front of it.  Continuous capture, instead of motion activated, would mean trawling through hours and hours of footage to find any incident, so most of our customers want a camera system with motion activated recording.

motion detector pir spy camera

Why would you want to use a spy camera?

Here at Pakatak we have been testing and selling the best spy cameras for over 20 years now.  This means we have come across hundreds of different reasons that customers want to set one up in a specific location.  They are a great security tool that can help to deter and detect criminal activity, or catch dishonest behaviour in individuals to protect yourself, your business and your family. A discreet surveillance camera can help you obtain the evidence you need to confirm your suspicions that something you thought was taking place is taking place, or give you piece of mind that all is well.

Here are a few of the main reasons why our customers consider using a spy camera…

Deterring criminal activity or theft in the workplace

One of the primary benefits of having a spy camera is that it can catch criminal behaviour in the act, so the perpetrator is caught red handed and you have video and audio evidence on the crime.  This may be theft of stock, theft from a cash register, anti-social behaviour taking place in or around the workplace.  The best case scenario is that the camera captures enough video footage to put your mind at ease and confirm that nothing untoward is taking place but more often than not a hidden camera will confirm your suspicions and allow you to take the next steps to prevent any recurrence of the activity.  Some of our cameras that are often used in offices can be things like smoke detector cameras, PIR sensor cameras, wall clock cameras or covert cameras built into things like internet routers.  These items are often found around a workplace and so are unlikely to arouse too much suspicion.

Checking the care of relatives or pets, or catching dishonesty

Many times over the years we have heard tragic stories about people worried about the care of elderly relatives when carers are coming into their home.  A camera will hopefully give you enough video evidence to confirm that the care being given is first class as it is in 99% of situations but if something is happening that should not be, then recorded video will confirm this for you and enable you to act.  The situation above can be the same with pets, they are a part of the family and many customers use camera systems to confirm that a house sitter is caring for their pet in a loving and responsible way.  Again, you’ll either get confirmation that all is well or you will find a problem and be able to take the necessary steps to resolve the situation.  I have mentioned elderly relatives and pets but I’d say the number one reason we are contacted about a spy camera system needed for the home will be due to suspicions or a spouse or partner having an affair.  Popular cameras used around the home are often built into digital clocks, wall clocks, routers, PIR sensors, smoke detectors and lamps – these items are found around the home and so are unlikely to arouse too much suspicion.  You will know your home better than anyone and so choosing the right camera is very much a personal decision and will depend upon which item will best suit the room you plan to put it in.

Monitoring Remote Areas

Now, for remote area monitoring, this would be a different type of camera.  In these types of situations customer would usually opt for, and we would usually recommend, a trail camera.  These are weatherproof, have built in battery slots, built in lens, motion/heat sensors to trigger the camera to record and powerful infrared for night vision.  They will start recording video or capturing images whenever a new heat signature enters the sensor range.  That heat signature may be a vehicle, human or animal.  Trail cameras are perfect for outside use and are completely wireless and portable.

Overall, concealed cameras are a great surveillance tool that can be used in so many different situations. Whether you’re looking to detect criminal activity, prove a suspicion or just put your mind at rest, a spy camera can be a great option as long as you choose the right one.  As with many products these days, there are many very cheap cameras available on Amazon and eBay as well as other internet sites.  We hear stories from customer regularly about a camera not working, no product support from the seller, the seller being overseas and many other after sale problems.  Our advice would be to spend a little bit more and make sure you buy from a reputable, UK based, seller.

Are spy cameras legal?

Yes, they are legal. However, there are some restrictions in certain areas, so it is best to check your local laws before setting up a spy camera especially if it is not on your own property or land.  Here is some important information and rules to follow when you are thinking of using a spy cam system.

Hidden surveillance kit is often integral in ensuring security at home and in the office or workplace. Using concealed camera devices can dramatically improve the safety of individuals and success of businesses as the video and audio footage obtained covertly can allow you to act and prevent a problem from happening again.  This type of security equipment, alongside traditional CCTV cameras, has been used by governments, police forces, corporations and individuals for many years.  Covert surveillance equipment can be a fantastic evidential collection tool in a massive number of different circumstances.

 Is it legal to spy on someone using a spy camera system?

If you are intending to use any kind of discreet camera, it is essential that you understand the laws involved in doing so. Spy cameras must only be used for legitimate security reasons. Any government body must comply with RIPA (Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act) guidelines if they wish to use any kind of spy surveillance equipment.

In the private sector, the rules are more lenient when deploying cameras.  You are expected to respect the reasonable privacy of any individual that is involved in video & audio recording and always abide by statutory regulations on data protection. A failure to do so could result in prosecution.

 What is illegal use of a spy camera?

Deploying concealed cameras in areas where individuals would have an expectation of privacy, such as bathrooms, changing rooms and locker rooms.

Planting a hidden camera in someone else’s home, or an area not owned by you.

Using cameras for illegal reasons.

Using cameras for an illegitimate reason.

Sharing images or video with third parties other than for legal reasons

Releasing footage or images to the media.

Capturing conversations between members of the public in public areas

How do spy cameras work?

After 20 years of spy camera systems experience, we like to think that we’ve built up a range of products that our customers really want and that can really help them in a multitude of applications.  Our cameras are almost all WiFi enabled, this means that they are linked to your nearby router and then you simply set them up via a free app.  This WiFi functionality also means that you can login and check your camera live on your phone whenever you want.  From within the app, you can set features such as motion detection, time and date set up (which will usually just sync with your mobile phone clock) and you can also view recorded footage too.  On that note our cameras all take a memory card, usually micro SD, so that footage can be viewed whenever you want.  Playback can be via the app or by removing the memory card and playing back on your laptop or desktop computer.

Powering a camera is probably the most important thing to think about when it comes to the workings of a camera and which camera to choose.  They are often built into everyday items so if you require long running time for many days then opt for an object that would not look strange being powered from main outlet, such as a digital clock camera or a router camera for example.  We stock many cameras that can run short term from a built-in battery, or they can be plugged into the mains for constant power.  Running a camera from the mains mean that you do not have to worry about how long the battery will last and can pretty much just leave the camera to do its thing for days at a time.  We also have been increasing our range of cameras that use long life batteries, these models use 18650 style rechargeable batteries and so can be completely wireless but still run for days at a time.  Our smoke detector camera and our PIR sensor cameras are good examples of this.  Both of these models could be problematic if they had a cable running from them to a mains outlet so the long life batteries in these two covert cameras works a treat and avoids arousing any suspicion.

USB charger plug spy camera

What are the benefits of spy cameras?

They offer a wide range of benefits, making them a popular security choice for both individuals and businesses. Our HD cameras are also relatively inexpensive and very easy to install. However, the main reason customers choose and use cameras is that it will sit there and capture video and audio footage without anybody knowing, this means that people will go about their normal business with zero knowledge that there is a camera recording them.  In turn, this means that if they were doing something they shouldn’t, then they will continue with that act and you will capture them (or at least the camera will) red handed and can then use the footage as evidence if necessary.  Spy equipment will often capture footage that a standard CCTV system would not as behaviour changes with the knowledge of CCTV in operation.  Cameras are often used temporarily too.  A customer will set up a discreet camera, their mind will then be put at rest by the video footage containing nothing untoward, the camera could then be put away and used again next time it’s required.



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