Is Your Home Bugged? Here’s How to Check

Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay, commonly referred to as the “Barclay Brothers” are British billionaires. The brothers are identical twins and have very substantial business interests in media, retail and property – a fortune valued around $7 billion.

Earlier this year, the brothers sold the iconic London hotel, The Ritz, for $750 million. But legal battles have ensued over possible eavesdropping at the hotel. You see, 85 year-old Frederick Barclay alleges that his nephew, Alistair, placed a covert listening device in the conservatory of the Ritz hotel.

The conservatory is where Frederick liked to enjoy a cigar and private time with his daughter Amanda. The eavesdropping came to light after Frederick released video that allegedly shows Alistair Barclay handling a bugging device at the hotel earlier this year.

The recording shows Alistair inserting a plug adapter, which is claimed to contain a listening device, into a socket. Prior to the sale of the hotel, Frederick’s lawyers served his nephew, Alistair, with a court order to hand over the fruits of what was described as an “elaborate covert recording system.”

This included three months and over 94 hours worth of voice files and transcripts.  Frederick’s attorney said the recordings captured over 1,000 separate conversations over a period of months, including conversations with their lawyers as well as bankers and business people.

And the British High Court judge overseeing the case confirmed the covert bugs yielded, “a wealth of confidential business information.” Now, this isn’t the first time that money and greed have torn a family apart, and it surely won’t be the last.

But it’s clear that some members of the family went to great lengths to spy and eavesdrop on Fredrick Barclay.  And, the truth is, even in the privacy of a hotel room, or your own home, you never know if someone planted a listening device.

With that in mind, here are some things to look for if you think your home or office may be bugged. Think like a spy: The first order of business if you suspect that a room is bugged is to sweep the room. Take a quick survey of your house or office. Does anything seem out of place?

Most intruders are not able to replace moved furniture in the exact same position it was in before. Pay attention to the imprints that heavy furniture will leave in carpets and rugs, and if any furniture is touching or not touching a wall when previously it was.

Clean smudges on dusty areas are also an indication that something has been moved recently. Unexplainable new items in the home are also cause for suspicion, as well as ones given as gifts from people you really don’t trust. That pen, notepad, clock, lamp or CD player may be a Trojan horse.

Suspicious vehicles: Listening devices often work on a specific radio frequency. And the person listening often has to be close to pick up the device’s transmission. So, if you begin noticing strange vehicles sitting near your home for extended periods of time, that could be a sign of eavesdropping.

A professional may even stage the vehicle to look like a home repair truck or van, including fake logos and information. Needing power: Listening devices require power.  They can operate with a battery, but this is not suitable for long-term use because listening devices are always on.

Since they need a steady and reliable power source, trace all visible wires and USB cords in your home.  Also, check your internet router, examining all connected devices. Eavesdroppers may have connected the bug to a separate source, so check for new hotspots or Wi-Fi networks with a strong signal near your home.

One last thing: I purposely didn’t bring up equipment to scan or detect listening devices. That’s because any app for your smart phone, or bug detector that you buy online for a couple hundred bucks won’t pick up the high tech signals used by criminals these days.

So, if you truly want to sweep for bugs, hire a professional to examine your home with the right detection gear.  I would consider contacting a licensed private investigator for this. But, for most people, without high threats, a quick sweep of your house should do the job.

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