Surveillance used to be something reserved for professionals. Spys, military intelligence, the police force and private investigators used expensive and sophisticated equipment to listen in on conversations, track people’s movements, and generally keep on an eye on people. This equipment was usually hard to come by and required special skills to operate.
However, now anyone has access to powerful spying and surveillance equipment, thanks to advances in technology. Most of it is relatively inexpensive and easy to use and is freely available.
No matter what your reasons might be, if you want to track the location of a person, object or vehicle, listen in on and record live or telephone conversations, covertly videotape a location or person, or even view their mobile phone data or computer activity, there are gadgets out there that will allow you to do this very easily. Surveillance laws do differ from area to area though, so you need to be aware of the legal implications of your actions before you get started. It is the responsibility of the purchaser to abide by the local laws pertaining to the use of such equipment, after all.
Let’s take a look at some of the surveillance equipment that is available.
There is a range of devices that will allow you to listen to and/or record audio. This listening equipment can be either analog or digital. Long range directional audio amplifiers will allow you to pinpoint a specific person from a good distance and listen in to what they are saying. There are extremely compact microphones that can be disguised or concealed out of site that will record what is being said or transmit the audio to a receiver where the conversation can be heard or recorded.
There are also audio recording devices that can be carried or worn. They are small and can either be concealed, or you can purchase recording gadgets that look like everyday objects you would carry such as a pen or a watch.
Phone bugs are also available that will record or transmit both sides of a telephone conversation when concealed – inside the phone or elsewhere on the switch (the telephone network). This will allow you to listen to and record all activity on that phone line remotely.
If you wish you disguise your voice when making a call or a recording, there are voice scramblers available that will change the sound and pitch of your voice so that no one will recognize it.
Camera and video surveillance equipment
There is a vast range of equipment available for capturing still images or video of people or locations. Obviously, there are normal cameras or CCTV type video cameras if you want to keep an eye on a particular location but if you want to be more discreet about it, there are a number of options.
Miniature cameras with wireless transmitters are available that can be easily concealed in everyday objects such as air vents, fittings or fixtures. Others can be disguised as normal objects you would see around the house. A popular nanny cam, for example, is disguised as a teddy bear with one of the eyes functioning as the camera lens. A wall clock is another good example. Other disguised cameras that can be used in a home or office environment are designed to look like smoke detectors, air purifiers, light fittings, appliances or other everyday objects.
Other cameras are designed to be worn on your body for mobile and face to face covert surveillance. Examples of these cameras would be hats, buttons, and glasses that function as video cameras. They are small, discreet and unnoticeable to the untrained eye.
A wide range of tracking devices are available that will allow you pinpoint the location and track the movement of a person, vehicle, asset or any object. Some are extremely small and can be concealed inside an item of clothing or a person’s luggage and there are others that will magnetically attach to the underside of a vehicle in seconds.
They can be monitored remotely and you can watch the movements in real time on a smartphone or computer from anywhere in the world. The activity is also recorded so you can go back at a later date to see the movements of the person or object you were tracking after the event. They work off a GPS navigation system and even the small, discreet devices are extremely powerful.
Mobile Phone Surveillance Equipment
Amazing mobile phone surveillance software and equipment are available that will allow you pretty much full access to a person’s device be it a mobile phone, a smartphone or a tablet. Most of them, although not all, require that you have access to the phone to discreetly install an invisible patch onto the phone. Once the system is set up and depending on the sophistication of the mobile phone surveillance product you purchase, you will have access to the following:
- Phonebook contacts
- Text messages
- Instant messages
- Social media activity (Facebook, Twitter, Viber, Hangouts, etc)
- Call logs
- GPS location
- Browsing history
- Audio files
- Images and videos
- Remote listening (telephone conversations as well as background audio when a call is not active)
- Control of camera view even if the user is not actively taking a photograph/video)
- Device Wipe
- Phone block or application blocking
- Keyword alerts
The software is normally designed to work with a range of specific mobile phone operating systems to ensure you get one that is compatible with the devices you wish to target.
These systems can be more expensive, depending on the features available and many works with a monthly or annual subscription. They are user-friendly but do require a certain amount of technical skills.
Cell phone signal interceptors
If you only want to listen in on conversations, there are easy to use devices that, with a bit of effort, will intercept the target cell phone and allow you to listen to the conversation.
Cell phone signal blockers
Small, portable devices are available that will block all cell phone signal in specific areas. There is a range of devices that cover small to larger areas.
Sophisticated computer surveillance software will give you full access to and control over a remote computer. Amongst other things, this software will enable you to:
- View all emails, messages and instant messages
- View social media activity
- View browsing activity and history
- View and record all keystrokes
- Track user logins
- Monitor USB usage
- Track print jobs
- Capture screenshots
- Add, edit or delete files
- Access all files on computer including documents, images, videos, etc
- View file transfers and intercept if necessary
- Control and remotely view via webcams
- Remotely listen via the computer microphone
- Block activity or block the entire computer
- View Passwords
Computer surveillance software can be used on a single computer or laptop or can be connected to a network, giving you the same power and control over all devices connected to that network. All internal and external activity and communication can be viewed, monitored, and controlled.
To be sure that you are not being spied on, there are devices available to sweep your home, office, car, luggage or clothing. These will be able to detect audio or video transmitting devices as well as tracking devices. Make sure that you are not under surveillance yourself by using these scanners regularly.
Other computer surveillance equipment
There are a number of other computer surveillance equipment that one should carry when conducting surveillance. These include a high-quality camera, binoculars, battery backup and/or an inverter to power all your gadgets, a laptop, tablet and mobile phone, sufficient storage capacity for audio and video files and a quality flashlight.
These devices are designed for law enforcement and private investigators but are now freely available to the general public. They have the potential for good and bad applications. While it is up to you how you use these gadgets, be aware of the local laws and regulations in your area to prevent yourself landing in legal hot water.
For a small investment and a bit of practice, you will be able to perform amazing, high-tech surveillance that would have been impossible for the average Joe just a few years ago. Happy sleuthing!