Thursday, August 17, 2006

Is your phone bugged?

I sweep homes and businesses for clandestine listening devices two or three times a week. Our clients come from every walk of life. Recently, I swept the office of a very famous socialite. Before that, I swept the office, conference room, and city-owned vehicle of a well-known mayor. But, most of the people who call Sherlock Investigations are ordinary people. They may be other private eyes, accountants, lawyers, or housewives.

For every case I accept, there's one that I turn down. About half the people who call have a legitimate reason to have their place of work or home swept for electronic bugs. They may be going through a divorce and the soon-to-be-ex knows too much about what is going on. Others may have a high-level conference scheduled and they want to make sure eavesdroppers aren't listening in.

I'll turn down a case if I feel a would-be client is mentally unstable. People who hear strange sounds in their head, or see red lights in the bathroom are quite common, but a little off. In almost every other way they're normal. Still, they're paranoid.

In some cases, people have convinced me to sweep their apartment or house, only to tell me afterwards (after I found nothing suspicious), that "they knew you were coming and turned off the devices."

Believe me, I want more business, and love doing what I do, but I can't take advantage of people. If you think your place is bugged, ask yourself who would go to such extreme lengths to plant listening devices or cameras in your house? Do you have a landlord or neighbor who might want to spy on you? That could be a good reason to suspect something.

Do you think the CIA has placed computer chips in your head? If you do, please don't call me, call a psychiatrist. I'm not being cute, I'm serious.

Sometimes paranoia or an obsessive compulsive disorder is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Medication may relieve this sympton, as these things are usually treatable.

Sometimes our fears or suspicions are self taught, from the messages we tell ourselves. We tend to build a case about some fear until we really start to believe it.

Many of us have phobias. I've always been afraid of heights. To help get over this fear, I started climbing 30-foot ladders. I'm still somewhat afraid, but it's more on the side of caution than fear. Sometimes we have to systematically desensitize ourselves about our fears. Little by little, we can replace the fear with the truth.

Most people don't have to worry about the FBI conducting surveillance on them, or the CIA tapping their phone. If you can think of a real good reason why someone would place a bug in your car, office, or home, call me. I'll locate and disable it.

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