Fact Check

Spy Cameras in Hotel Room Coat Hooks?

A clickbait Facebook post claimed that cameras in hotel hooks were a risk to guests, but it cited a warning issued by police in Key West that was unrelated to hotels.

Published Jun 7, 2016

Spy cameras are commonly hidden in hotel room hooks.
What's True

Police in Florida issued a warning after a handful of hidden cameras were uncovered in coat hooks in May 2016.

What's False

The incident was an isolated one and involved public restrooms and not hotel rooms.

On 3 June 2016, the web site AWM published an item reporting that spy cameras were being concealed in hotel rooms:

Seeing a coat hook in a public restroom or in your hotel isn’t a red flag for most people. That’s exactly why criminals are putting them up. You and everyone else is used to seeing them on the backs of doors and walls.

But now new information has come to light. And it’s terrifying. These coat hooks are actually carrying something that can ruin your life.

Don’t let their unassuming appearance trick you. Many of these coat hooks are actually a high-tech spy camera…

Although the item claimed "many" hotel hooks harbored these cameras, it went on to cite a 31 May 2016 Facebook post published by the Monroe County Sheriff's Office in Key West:

According to that warning, police in Key West located three cameras in womens' restrooms in separate locations in May 2016, but while they were hidden in coat hooks, none of the cameras were located in private hotel rooms (or even in hotels at all):

In all three incidents, miniature cameras hidden in coat hooks were found mounted on the walls in the women’s restrooms. They were found at Anne’s Beach on May 26th, the Circle K Store at the 99.8 mile marker of Highway U.S. One on May 28th and in the women’s bathroom at Harry Harris Park in Tavernier today.

The coat hooks mounted in all three locations are identical to devices available for purchase on line, sold by various companies as “home security devices”. Detectives have notified Monroe County Public Works and Islamorada Public Works and asked them to check all the bathrooms at county and city facilities; Sheriff Rick Ramsay wants to let everyone know so they also can be on the lookout.

Although it was certainly possible such hooks could be mounted in hotel rooms by predators, the occurrence didn't appear to be a regular one. We found a tiny number of hotel-related camera reports since surveillance equipment of that nature was available. A 2015 incident in England made headlines due to the its rarity:

Harmony Hachey, 23, was using the cubicle when she noticed a small electronic device hidden behind the vent. On closer inspection, she realised it was in a hidden camera pointing directly at where she was standing naked in the shower.

The police are now investigating the incident, which has left Miss Hachey feeling "violated". A force spokesman said the camera was not connected to the caretaker's room, with a flex left dangling inside the maintenance unit behind the shower.

After realising it was a camera, she took several photographs as evidence and alerted hotel staff.

When the receptionist investigated, she went to the janitor's cupboard in the main hallway at the back of the shower. There, she is said to have found a USB cable attached to the camera, but it appeared to be switched off.

In that case, the camera was concealed behind a vent, not embedded within a fixture of the room. The cheap plastic hooks housing cameras in the viral warning were unlikely to go unnoticed for long in hotel rooms, where unusual unauthorized fixtures would likely be immediately apparent to maintenance. 

It is true that police in Key West issued a warning about spy cameras in public bathrooms in May 2016, but the warning had nothing to do with hotel rooms. 


The Telegraph.   "Travelodge Guest Finds Spy Camera Hidden in Shower at Oxford Hotel."     2 September 2015.

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.

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