Household products being used for surveillance cameras threaten public safety

As technology advances and criminals get more creative, police have a fresh warning about seemingly innocent products.

Household objects used as an inconspicuous surveillance cam can also be used against the very people they help protect when in the wrong hands.

In Florida, the Monroe County Sheriff's Office says a man they've identified as Charles Schmidt used black and white double-pronged plastic coat hooks to spy on more than a dozen women in a bathroom.

With a quick search online, FOX 5 found hundreds of products, readily available for purchase, that can do the same thing. These products range from light fixtures, to wall plugs, key FOBs and even screws -- all with pinhole cameras hidden inside.

It's an issue local authorities are familiar with.

In October, Montgomery County police arrested DC man Jonathan Oldale for allegedly illegally recording inside a gymnastics studio restroom using a camera hidden in a car key remote.

Cyber security experts also warn that in many cases, these devices use technology that can easily upload to the Cloud using Wifi or Bluetooth.

"Video can be streamed instantly," said Peter Swire, Privacy and Cyber Security Expert at Georgia Technology University.

"Or it might be saved and put up on Facebook or where ever else later on."

Many want to know how they can protect themselves amid these new dangers.

"We live in a world where people carry video cameras called smart phones," said Swire.

"We have more cameras than we did before. So when you think you're in private, you have to make sure you are really in private. When you're in your own house, you can close the windows or else people can look in the windows. And we have to apply that same idea to going on in public."

Check bathrooms, changing rooms and other vulnerable public spaces before using them. Be aware of your surroundings. If you suspect something may have been tampered with, leave the space and immediately report it to store owners and the authorities.

Experts also advise people to search for strange looking wifi signals in these intimate spaces, which could indicate a streaming surveillance device.