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Electronic Bugs and the Clean Sweep

Having the right equipment when it comes to covert surveillance is important, but so is knowing how to detect and find that same equipment when it’s happening to you. Electronic surveillance can be used to watch an ex-spouse or girlfriend, or perhaps to spy on your nanny while you’re away working (i.e. the Nanny Cam). This type of surveillance monitors the home or business or individual using a variety of devices such as closed-circuit television (CCTV), wiretapping, cameras, digital video equipment, and other electronic, digital, and audio-visual means.

PGI recently had a client who was suspicious that her soon-to-be ex-husband had planted a device somewhere in her house. She called our offices and we agreed to do a sweep of her residence. What ended up happening during our investigation was that a covert RF transmitter “bug” was discovered before it was installed. The bug happened to be inside a briefcase located on a shelf in the master suite closet. Two factors led to this discovery, not the least of which was using the right tool for the job.

Technical Surveillance

The first factor aiding in the discovery was the master suite closet as the area of interest. Closets are not normally considered during a Technical Surveillance Counter Measures (TSCM) survey. The client in this case, however, was suspicious that a camera may have been placed inside her bedroom closet.

The second factor to the success of this sweep was the equipment used to search the closet. I know this sounds like geek speak, but it’s important to know that a Research Electronics International Orion 2.4 non-linear junction detector (NJD) detected the bug’s components that had been put inside the briefcase. The closet we had to inspect was large and had three levels of shelves on all three walls. Without the help of the NJD, it would have taken several hours to complete a physical search, and the bug may have been missed by the humans conducting the search.

For those unfamiliar with what an NJD does, I’m going to introduce you to the nitty-gritty detail of how it works. The NJD helps find electronic components, such as transistors and diodes, common to all eavesdropping devices, by flooding a suspicious area or target object with a spectrally pure microwave RF signal at between 2.40 and 2.47 GHz. Various frequencies are then monitored for a harmonic signal reflected by the component. The NJD will detect devices that are dormant, broken, or the power supply has been interrupted, like when a battery has gone dead.

Electronic Bugs & Clean Sweep

To finish this story, our client’s gut instincts helped us locate the area where the suspected bug was, but it was our equipment that solidified the suspicion. Without the use of the right equipment, it would have been a hit or miss on this one. Thankfully, we listened to her, used the NJD, and stopped the potential monitoring of her.

The NJD is a sophisticated device that not every TSCM provider or investigative agency has in their equipment inventory. Training, equipment, and experience are important items to check off your list before hiring a company to do your work. When comparing TSCM providers, price should not be the only consideration. The professionals at PGI have the right tools and staff to discover bugs. Let us help you make a clean sweep.


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