Modern advancements have made private investigator technological options virtually limitless. Today the market is filled with companies that specialize in the latest developments in surveillance tools for PIs. Here is a selection of some of those tools.
Disclaimer: Make sure you know the laws regarding surveillance and privacy in the jurisdictions where you operate. The following tools may violate the laws where you live.
GPS Tracking Systems – Today’s GPS tracking systems go far beyond the “find my phone” feature. Units come disguised as everyday objects as well as small mountable clandestine devices. Optional features include 60-day battery life, motion-activation, and AC/DC adapters. Standard tracking information includes 10-second coordinate location updates and remaining battery life.
Many GPS units are designed to be easily installed in a vehicle’s on-board diagnostics (OBD) port under the steering wheel. These report data such as VIN number, fuel level, rapid accelerations or braking, and odometer readings.
Mobile Device Tools – These are small units you can plug into smartphones and other mobile devices that download user information. This can include deleted data such as text messages, internet history, call history, and contacts.
Radio Frequency Signal Detectors – RF signal detectors have been used since the advent of radio to detect hidden bugs transmitting signals on spectra traditionally reserved for the FM, AM, CB, and shortwave bands. Today’s RF detectors are modified to detect radio bands used for cellular, wifi, Bluetooth, and satellite communication. This means you can detect the presence of clandestine cell transmissions, hidden wifi networks and modem transmissions, and satellite signals. These types of transmissions are used with modern bugs and hidden cameras.
Transmitter detectors are specifically designed to help you hone in on the exact location of a radio frequency source.
Computer Software – Today you can find legitimate computer software that is designed to infect a target computer and give you access to everything from its IP address and location to email and chat logs or keystrokes.
Cell Phone Tracking – Currently systems exist on the private market that allow detailed cell location tracking of individual phones on a global level. The cost is prohibitively expensive for many, and thus far users of this technology have been limited to mostly those at the levels of a national government. However Moore’s law indicates that in a very short time this technology will become much more widely available, and there have already been reports of the Chicago Police Department using these types of tracking/locating devices.
Surveillance Drones – The two fields that have seen exponential growth in the last decade and combine to give us the most advanced spy drones are: unmanned aerial vehicles and micro camera technology. There are already a myriad of private security companies that use drones to patrol and monitor perimeters. The operational range of surveillance drones is increasing by the day. There are already drones being controlled on cellular networks whose only limitation is battery power, which can endure for a matter of hours and be recharged via solar panels. Currently weaponized drones are only allowed for federal agencies, however the power of remote surveillance can be just as important.