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Top 10 Uses Of Spy Equipment To Hit The Headlines

Adrian Mudd   May 18, 2015

With Spooks making the leap from TV to cinema it seems we can’t get enough of hi-tech spy equipment such as hidden cameras and secret listening devices. However, this isn’t just the stuff of fiction any more – the kind of equipment dreamt up for James Bond decades ago is now being used to fight crime in the UK. We all know that CCTV can cut crime, simply due to the potential offender being aware of its presence. However, covert surveillance is being used to catch those who are already committing the crime, as well as providing evidence, which can be used in court. With spying equipment now so easy to get hold of online, it isn’t just police officers that are using it.

Spy Equipment in the News1. Elderly abuse

The sickening treatment of a few elderly people at care homes has been caught on camera by the families of the victims. Recently in Hull, great-grandmother Freda Jobson, who has Alzheimer’s disease, was degraded by staff at Keldgate Manor Residential Home. They were caught after her family hid a camera in a clock to capture the footage. An investigation is now taking place.

2. Graveyard thief

A tracking device was put inside a teddy bear to catch a thief who was stealing mementos from a grave. Kylie Eales, 26, was caught taking the photos and other tributes which were put on the grave of Connor Upton, in Burton-upon-Trent. She was given a conditional discharge after being found guilty. Mr Upton’s grieving mother fitted the satellite tracking device inside the toy after discovering items were missing from her son’s grave.

3. China’s state spy

Phone taps and other spy equipment were used by China’s feared former security chief Zhou Yongkang to gain information about his rivals. Even the current president Xi Jinping was spied on and Yongkang is now awaiting trial for ‘bribery, abuse of power and intentional disclosure of state secrets’. It is claimed that Zhou asked a senior police chief to import ‘electronic surveillance equipment from Germany… to monitor the telephone conversations of senior leaders’.

4. Student with a grudge

A university student was caught by a spy camera trying to poison her house mates and spitting into their food. Hayley King, 22, who is studying at the University South Carolina, is facing up to 20 years in prison after facing charges of unlawful, malicious tampering with a human drug product or food. Her two room mates set up the spy cameras because they were scared of what she might doing following a number of altercations.

5. Eavesdropping television

The thought of being spied on through your TV sounds futuristic, but Samsung is warning customers to not discuss personal information in front of their TV sets due to their listening devices. The warning is directed at viewers who control their Samsung Smart TV using its voice activation feature. When the feature is active the TV sets ‘listen’ to what is said, and may share what they hear with Samsung, or third parties.

6. Dementia device

According to a recent survey by Bupa, more than eight out of 10 people agree with using tracking devices on sufferers of dementia. It seems police are called out regularly to search for dementia patients, who have wandered off and gone missing – this is not only costly for police but is worrying for friends and family of the sufferer. The device would be worn around their neck or clipped to a belt and uses GPS to track the individual.

7. Pinpoint hearing

A device is being created which can allow you to hear a conversation taking place metres away from you, even in a crowded, noisy room. The device, which would be handy for spies who were working in crowded places, would give us ‘superpowers’ such as ultra-directional hearing. The concept, called LaLaLa, looks like a hearing aid from the future, but it gives you selective hearing, modifies voices and filters out other sounds.

8. Catching luggage lifters

Baggage handlers have been caught on hidden spy cameras rifling through luggage and stealing items. Police set up the cameras at Miami International Airport in a secure luggage room and in the hold area of a plane. According to the report by CNN, since 2012 there have been 31 baggage handlers and ramp workers arrested at Miami International Airport for stealing from luggage.

9. The FBI’s eye in the sky

The FBI has been using surveillance equipment on planes to keep track of people. This secret air force of the FBI had been seen over Baltimore, where riots were taking place over Freddie Gray’s murder. The planes are able to stay in the sky longer than helicopters and the advanced spy equipment uses infra-red and thermal imagery to spot people, even on the darkest night.

10. Park police

Hidden cameras could soon be used in trees to stop motorcyclists joyriding in public parks and creating a nuisance. According to the Wiltshire Times, the problem in areas such as Gorse Hill and Pinehurst is annoying residents and the bikes are often stolen. The discreet cameras will be put in spots which have seen the most incidents.