Are you bugged?
(C) Copyright 1993 Michael E. Enlow
This document was written by an expert, quite knowledgeable in
the methods and techniques of good, successful investigation.
The author has based this material solely upon his discoveries
and experiences in the trade but is not an attorney. Thus no legal
advice is offered herein.
Be cautioned therefore, that this document neither asserts the
legality of any of the methods described herein, nor does it
advocate any usage of techniques without first seeking competent
legal advice and adherence to the law.
The author, editor, and service providers, unequivocally disclaim
any responsibility for damages resulting from the use of any of the
techniques or the consequences of implementing anything contained
herein. This writing is provided strictly for informational purposes
(This is an abstract from The Inside Secrets, a newsletter
catering to detectives, attorneys, law enforcement officers
and professionals around the world. Want to know how the
pro's bug, tap phones, and use other things to hear what
I'm now going to show you just how widespread illegal
electronic surveillance, or bugging really is. But, let me
begin by saying. . .
MY INTENTION IS NOT TO SHOW YOU WAYS YOU MAY DO ILLEGAL
ELECTRONIC SURVEILLANCE, BUT ONLY TO INFORM YOU OF HOW IT IS
DONE, ON WHAT SCALE, AND WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PROTECT YOUR
RIGHTS. I, THEREFORE, DISCLAIM ANY AND ALL LIABILITY FOR
YOUR MISUSE OF ANY OF THE TECHNIQUES AND/OR CONCEPTS OUTLINED
WITHIN THIS ISSUE AND FURTHER ISSUES OF THE INSIDE SECRETS
Do you get it? If you take it upon yourself to use the
information I share with you and do something illegal, then
you pay the price. I am warning you in advance. I am not an
attorney and do not claim to be rendering legal advice. If
you consider using any of the concepts I disclose, you should
consult your attorney to insure they are legal in your
jurisdiction. With that behind us, let's move on.
Do you know there are only about three to four hundred court
orders issued each year for electronic surveillance
applications in the U.S.? Yet, there are hundreds (if not
thousands) of electronic surveillance equipment suppliers. I
wonder how they manage to stay in business?
Well, my friend, I'll tell you. They make a lot of money
selling electronic surveillance equipment. Their customers
are Federal, State, and Local Law Enforcement Agencies,
corporations, and a few private investigators, who often
illegally use these devices in their investigations--but
you'll never know it...
A very popular book on electronic surveillance came out in
1967, and it listed some of the buyers of electronic
surveillance gear. Everyone was quite surprised to find Avis
Rent-A-Car, various hotel chains, Coca-Cola, several life
insurance companies, and the like, were allegedly spending
millions for specialized bugging devices. But to find out
that Walt Disney was a major customer . . .? Hmmm....
In my career, I have discovered numerous illegal electronic
surveillance applications. Bugs are everywhere; they're in
small businesses, large corporations, people's homes,
conventions, everywhere! In fact, if you don't believe me,
you can hear for yourself. Use a programmable police scanner
to scan the 35 to 50 megahertz bands. You'll almost always
find some very strange transmissions. (Things mother wouldn't
have wanted you to hear.)
Let me tell you more about electronic surveillance. There
are many ways of using electronics for surveillance, but
first lets take a look at what's called hardwiring.
Hardwiring is basically the same as having an everyday
microphone plugged into a tape recorder. When you speak into
the microphone, everything you say is sent through the
microphone's wire and recorded onto a tape.
Then, there are electronic transmitters which intercept the
signal via microphone and transmit it as a radio signal to a
receiver of some kind. (Sort of like a miniature radio
There are also more advanced long range listening devices
like the laser mic, the shotgun microphone, the parabolic
microphone, and others which can pick up a whisper for long
ranges (sometimes even miles away).
To elaborate on a few types of electronic surveillance
applications and the ways to protect yourself from them, I'll
expound and tell of a couple of case scenarios.
First let's discuss. . .
As I said earlier, this type of electronic interception
requires the use of wire to carry the sound to you or some
other listening device. There are many ways hardwiring is
done. Wires the size of a human hair can be used to transmit
a signal from a microphone. They can be painted over,
implanted under carpet, in an air condition duct, or behind
baseboards, etc., to conceal them from view.
At one end of the wire is the microphone, and on the other a
tape recorder or even someone who is listening with a set of
headphones. This method of electronic interception is the
oldest in the industry, yet still practiced today.
To make everything a little more complicated, there is also a
conductive paint that closely resembles fingernail polish,
which will transmit the minute electrical impulses from the
microphone to a recorder or headphones.
There are so many different hardwire applications that I will
not attempt to cover them all. I will just emphasize a bit
by sharing with you a couple we've discovered in our
Once, in checking a certain client's business for bugs, we
located a very cleverly installed hard-wire system.
Obviously someone had access to the office for a considerable
length of time, or maybe did a little breaking and entering
to get into the office.
Anyway, this particular application was a small microphone
element about a quarter inch in diameter (found at all Radio
Shack stores) placed in a small hole in a picture frame. A
hole drilled into the rear of the picture frame held the
microphone in place. A small eighth inch hole continued
through the frame to allow the sound waves to reach the
microphone. A couple of fine wires running from the
microphone to the wall were thumb tacked there. At this
point, conductive paint, as described above, continued down
the seams of the paneling walls to the baseboard. Behind the
baseboard the conductive paint joined with an old set of
unused telephone wires.
A recorder was concealed in the basement near the phone box.
Every sound made in our client's office was being taped
using a long play tape recorder. Many times agents will
change the play and record speed of tape recorders by
alternating the internal components. This enables a standard
tape recorder to record from 4 to 15 hours on one side of a
Let me tell you of another clever hardwire I discovered. We
received a call from a lady who, believing that she was
bugged, requested a "bug-sweep" of her home to detect any
illegal electronic surveillance devices. After a very
thorough sweep b y several of my agents, they found nothing.
My agents told her there were no electronic surveillance
devices on the premises. My men really did a thorough sweep
A few days later the lady called again and said she knew
without a doubt that she was bugged. She insisted we must
have missed something. This time I went to the location and
ran every test we had equipment to run. Still--no bug.
Then, I began the next countermeasures procedure, a physical
inspection of the entire house from attic to basement.
As I was searching, I noticed something very unusual. The
stereo, situated in the center of the home, was on and the
cassette deck was playing. Closer inspection showed that it
was recording! However, there wasn't a microphone plugged
into the microphone jack and it didn't have an internal
microphone. I stopped the tape and played it back. There was
a perfect recording of our client and myself as I was
questioning her during my search.
I checked the back of the stereo and there it was! I noticed
one of the speaker wires was routed into the cabinet of the
stereo. I disassembled the stereo and the wire was connected
to the microphone jack on the inside and connected to a
speaker. A SPEAKER WAS BEING USED TO CONDUCT MICROPHONE
SIGNALS TO THE TAPE RECORDER! It worked like a charm!
On top of this, the husband had changed the record/play speed
of the recorder to accommodate eight hours of recording.
This was one of the most sophisticated "home-made" jobs I had
ever seen! Every night while the wife was working, as a
nurse, h e was reviewing everything that happened at home the
day before -- overhearing her telephone calls, and her
visitors. I have to credit this guy, it was quite a design.
ARE YOU BUGGED?
My best advice on detecting any type of hard wire
installation is to look for any alteration in the carpet
where wiring may have been routed under the carpet. Watch
for any unusual sets of wires near and around your telephone
wiring. (You should always be familiar with the type and
number of wires near your outside telephone connection box,
and watch out for any new wires that may appear.)
Keep notice of the baseboards around the floor and note any
unusual scratches in the paint, or other indications that the
base board has been removed. Be cautious of any metal
objects that may be part of a conductor for electricity.
This could b e part of a hot-wire for a bug. Let me
illustrate this for you:
As you can see, many types of metals carry current and can be
used as a decoy for wiring. This type installation will out-
wit most private detective countermeasure sweeps and
searches, particularly in hard-wire systems.
Another type of hard-wire system is a direct telephone tap.
This only requires a standard tape recorder with both a
microphone and remote control jack with an "auto recording
control." These are about $25.00 and are available at any
Radio Shack or other electronic supply store.
The "auto recording control" is a small box about three
inches square and has two wires coming out of it. It also
has two switches on top of it to set it for record or
playback mode. There is a gray wire which plugs directly
into any extra telephone jack or it can be cut and spliced
into the telephone line. The other wire, with two plugs,
connects to the tape recorder. The small plug goes to the
remote jack of the tape recorder and the other, larger plug,
to the microphone jack on the recorder. One simply presses
the record button on the recorder and you're all set.
The auto recording control will keep the recorder inactive
until the phone is in use. Once the phone is lifted from the
cradle, the auto recorder control activates the recorder to
clearly record both sides of the conversation. As soon as
the phone is placed back on the hook, the recorder stops
recording and waits for the next incoming or outgoing call.
This feature prevents the tape recorder from playing
constantly and allows for the recorder to only be active
Most people who use this method of bugging will plug the auto
recording control into an extra telephone jack in the home or
business, and conceal the recorder underneath a bed or behind
some other object to conceal it.
However, in those cases where there are no extra jacks, they
will cut the telephone jack wire coming out of the auto
recording control and strip away the insulation from the red
and green wires. Then, they will splice these colored wires
into the phone wire.
Nearly all phone systems operate on a single grey or white
cable. Once the insulation is removed the cable contains a
red, green, yellow, and black wire. This cable carries
approximately 40 to 50 volts and will seldom shock if handled
improperly, (unless of course, the phone rings which sends
about 110 volts or so down the line) allowing for amateur
Once the insulation is stripped away, these two wires, the
red and green, should be matched with the red and green in
the telephone wire and then properly taped to insure no
static will occur. In 99% of the applications we've found,
we seldom find them with static, clicks, hums, or any other
noise that would alert the subject of a bug. We have seen
instances where people have used bubble gum to seal the wires
once spliced. (The FEDS love finding fingerprints in bubble
gum. It makes their job so easy...)
Here's another tactic that has been used in phone tapping.
We've seen cases where extensions of people's phones are
installed at other locations where the tap can be easily
accessible. Generally, the person doing the bugging will
design a plan to get the phone company to have a new line
with the same number installed (an extension) in a
predetermined location, often under the guise of an "office
extension." Then, they connect the recording device, and
monitor calls for several weeks. Before the person being
bugged receives their phone bill reflecting the added charge
for the new phone line, the culprit is long gone. . .
THE CORDLESS PHONE
Cordless phones are in near every American home. Sure they
are convenient to carry around with us, but they can easily
transmit both side of your phone calls to anyone with a
police scanner for up to a mile away!
BEWARE OF DISCUSSING CONFIDENTIAL BUSINESS
ON CORDLESS PHONES!
The box in which your cordless phone was purchased usually
warns you that these phones are transmitters. Yet, every day
millions of people, both at work and home, continue to use
them, spreading their business through the airwaves. There
is little you can do to stop people from hearing your calls,
short of purchasing a scrambling device. Even then the party
to whom you are talking would also have to have a matching
descrambling device to understand you. This would so
restrict the use of your cordless phone to the point that you
may as well use a regular telephone.
Cordless phones are easily intercepted. For your own
security, I'll share how it is done. Again, I am not an
attorney and highly recommend you consult with a competent
attorney should you decide to use this technique for
It works like this. Nearly all cordless phones (with the
exception of the new 900 megahertz phones) transmit in the
46.00 to 47.00 megahertz band. To intercept the cordless
phone, the investigator will use the search feature on the
scanner and program 46.00 as the low and 47.00 as the high
and touch the search/scan key. If a cordless phone is in use
in the area it will lock in on that frequency. He or she
can, then, hear both sides of the conversation crystal clear
for up to a mile. The use of a good low-band antenna with
the scanner will increase the reception range of a cordless
phone even further.
Many private investigators will drive by a subject's home
searching these frequencies, and obtain "inside information"
that will provide leads that later help them to document
It is arguable whether this is an invasion of privacy or a
violation of federal law because of the notice on the carton
in which this type telephone is purchased. It clearly states
they are not private. Many investigators and attorneys argue
that people waive their rights to the expectation of privacy
when they use such a telephone.
TO GO A STEP FURTHER. . .
There is also a device called an "auto scanner recording
control" which will allow a police scanner to be connected to
a tape recorder. It activates the recorder to begin
recording--only when the cordless phone is in use.
Investigators will determine the exact frequency of the
subject's phone, and then place a battery powered scanner
with the scanner recorder control in a water-tight baggie or
other container, conceal the equipment in hedges, culverts,
etc., near the subject's home or office. Later he or she
will retrieve the equipment along with the "juicy info" of
the targets telephone conversations! And to go a step
further, the investigator will often use a long-play recorder
that will record hours of conversation.
Surveillance companies and spy shops sell recorders that will
record up to 10 hours of conversation on a single cassette
tape. If you are a business man who often uses a tape
recorder for business, this may be a real help to you.
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The concepts mentioned above are only the "tip of the
iceberg" of what is happening in illegal electronic
surveillance. I could write an entire book on just this
topic. Since we have only so much space to write each month,
I will have to continue this topic in future issues.
However, if you have specific questions or comments, you may
call my office or send a fax, and we will try to answer your
Please don't be so foolish as to believe, "It couldn't happen
to you," or you may find a lot of your deals going sour.
Perhaps, someone may even decide your secrets are worth more
than your bank account....
BEWARE: IT IS HAPPENING MORE THAN YOU WOULD BELIEVE!
I have turned down many multi-thousand dollar jobs to do
industrial spying, and if I am getting these offers, so are
many others. You can never be too careful.
There are devices which will help you to detect illegal
telephone taps, transmitters, and conventional hard-wire
bugs, but the best protection is to follow a few rules:
a. Never say anything on the phone you wouldn't want to
say in a courtroom.
b. Never trust anyone. If what you say could hurt you
and your business, shut-up.
c. If you must discuss very confidential business,
create a loud background noise that will hinder the
less expensive electronic devices, i.e., a radio or
television with loud volume, a fan running in the
same room, etc., and talk quietly. You would be
amazed at how effective this background noise is
against electronic invasion of your privacy.
d. When discussing very delicate issues, never meet in
anyone's office. Meet in public places and be sure
to be observant of any bulges which could be
concealed tape recorders, etc.
Until next time. . . .
Michael E. Enlow, Legal Investigator
P.S. Please don't hesitate to call if you have questions
or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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