How Does Spy Gear Work?


Quick Answer

Spy gear includes listening devices and tracking technologies used to gather secret information, put a target under surveillance or assassinate targets without detection. Many spy gadgets look like everyday objects to help agents work undercover.

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A common type of listening device for surveillance is the parabolic microphone. Its reflector is capable of isolating a sound from a distant location, allowing listeners to eavesdrop from as far away as 300 yards. For listening to conversations in close proximity, an undercover agent may hide a wire in his clothing or plant a bug in a location. A wire or bug usually consists of a microphone with a radio transmitter that broadcasts the conversations to a nearby receiver.

Spies and law enforcement agencies often attach devices onto the clothes or vehicles of targets and suspects to track their locations. These devices use the Global Positioning System, radio frequencies and other tracking technologies. GPS is also commonly found in modern mobile devices. While intended for navigation and tracking lost devices, GPS capability in mobile devices also allows any mobile user perform detective or spy work.

In the past, spies carried ordinary-looking items that actually hid gadgets for espionage. The lipstick pistol, for instance, was a 4.5-mm cyanide pistol concealed in a lipstick holder. Cameras were disguised as buttonholes or attached to pigeons for reconnaissance missions. Spies also sent messages in microdot form or with the help of a cipher so that intercepted messages were difficult to decode.

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