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Private Investigations and Personal Security/Surveillance, Tracking and Bugs....and a hotel room.


Hey Chris,

Got a doozy of a question for you, but first, a bit of context. I'm a screenwriter currently working on an assignment to adapt a best selling spy novel. Problem is, it's set in the Eighties and so to update it to modern day, I'm running into a few issues. Namely the advancement of current Surveillance tech verses what was available back in the day. And now to the question-

I have a scenario whereby a character is confined to a hotel room. He can walk around the hotel, but can't walk out. He will later find a bug in his room or a tracker on his person and attach it to the guard outside his room. The guard leaves and either divulges key info (bugged) or returns home (tracker).

The problem is, with not being able to leave the room, how can the main character monitor the bug? Is there any way he rewire/retool hotel room items (radio, phone, TV) to tune into the frequency of the bug.

Alternatively, if it's a tracker, is there anyway he can use those items to fashion a device to view the movements of the tracker?

If not, he does have access to the whole hotel. So could he fashion some device that could either tune into the frequency of the bug or monitor the whereabouts of the tracker? Maybe steals a guards radio/walkie-talkie or a businessman guest's laptop.

Of course, this brings up another problem. Namely, if the people who planted the bug realize that the bug has moved to another person, they'll be alerted to the deception (and they need to remain oblivious). Alternatively, if the tracker leaves the hotel on the guard, they'll think that the character has left the hotel (which will result in the death of his kidnapped daughter). So is there someway to jam a signal (for the bug) or hack a device to fool it into thinking the character hasn't moved (for the tracker)?

Any advice would be helpful. I feel I've written myself down a slight cul-de-sac. Hopefully you can guide me out.

Best regards


PS. I should state that the character is an expert in tech and software development so if bugs or trackers do use a public frequency, he could easily hack it with laptop wifi. If that were possible :)

PPS. I'm also concerned about issues like range with regards the bug. How far could the Guard leave until he's out of range of whatever the character fashions as a listening device?

Unless you want to turn the character into a McGyver, which no one likes it would be difficult to feasibly make a TV pick these up. Older bugs used radio frequencies in a range that a radio could be tuned to but the range was terrible, usually no more than a few hundred feet. The problem with modern day bugs is that many are on private frequencies and many operate of cell frequencies. They do go further, many several hundred feet, those with cell technology go wherever you have cell service. Problem is it takes sophisticated equipment to pick these up and they usually have pl tone to keep from being intercepted. As for trackers most are satellite and require a login to specific software to monitor them. If you can provide me information a little bit at a time as you come to it I will be glad to help because there is nothing that I hate more than a movie or book that is not realistic. If you couldn't tell I hate btw, my ps. does this mean I get an honorable mention in the book or screen

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Chris Cantrell


Most investigation related questions including General Investigations, Surveillance, Undercover work, Accident Investigations, Missing persons, Evidence related questions and person security/protection questions. I do not prefer to answer domestic related questions such as divorce or child custody but I would be glad to review them.


Former Law Enforcement officer, Narcotics Agent, Investigator and Chief of Police Licensed Private Investigator and VP Alabama Private Investigator's Association Private Investigator Instructor

APIA Alabama Association of Private Investigators (Vice President) Alabama Narcotics Officers Association AARS - Alabama Association of Rescue Squads NASAR – National Association of Search & Rescue National Association of Investigative Specialist

Author - Professional’s Guide to Auto Repossession. Published 1997 by Thomas Publications Author – “Badges….we don’t need no stinkin’ badges” published in Professional Repossessor Magazine. Guest speaker 2001 ASAFS “Alternative, Alternate Light Source

MLPI Managing the Lost Person Incident Urban SAR Operations Certified Accident Investigator Rappelling Instructor Certification Injured/Officer Down Rescue Course Physical Surveillance School Introduction to Highway/Rural Drug Investigation Undercover Operations & Risk Management Undercover Violence Transitioning from State to Federal Prosecution PTSD in Undercover Operations Audio Recovery of Undercover Cases Clan Lab, Meth Addiction & Booby Trap Familiarization Officer Safety, High Risk Event Planning – Level 1 Forensics and Domestic Violence Training Introduction to Clandestine Lab Investigations Certification Police Management Level 1 Dealing effectively with the External Environment Diversity, Understanding People and Cultures Managing for Effectiveness Ethics Rave/Club Drugs Seminar Controlled FORCE Instructor certification Patrol Officers Response to Street Narcotics Kinesic Interview and Interrogation Evidence Technician Course

Awards and Honors
Rescuer of the Year 2006 – AARS Rescuer of the Quarter – 4th Qtr 2006 2003 American Heart Association – “Cardiac Arrest Warrant” 2003 Adamsville Police Department - Fugitive Apprehension Certificate 2003 Sipsey Volunteer Fire & Rescue – Certificate of Appreciation 2002 Adamsville Police Department - Fugitive Apprehension Certificate 2002 Sipsey Volunteer Fire & Rescue – Certificate of Appreciation 1997 NAIS PI Convention Speaker Award

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