You are big brother

April 2011 Surveillance, Products & Solutions

We have all heard about the cool toys those involved in industrial espionage or other private investigative operations use, not to mention the ultra-cool toys government agencies have access to in their quest to find out who is saying and doing what. The recently launched SpyCatcher SA spoke to Hi-Tech Security Solutions about its range of surveillance and counter surveillance products that the ordinary citizen can access and easily use.

Founded in 2010 by Etienne Labuschagne, SpyCatcher SA is the local representative of the UK’s SpyMaster, a company that has been in operation for over 20 years. Labuschagne spent several years working in the UK with SpyMaster before launching the local operation.

The company sells a range of products, from surveillance, through to night vision, personal protection, torches and searchlights, as well as body armour that meets international standards. SpyCatcher also sells kit that legally can only be sold to government or police services, but only to the government as it cannot let the general public get its hands on these devices – as useful as they are. The company sells its stock through direct sales or via its website.

Watch what you say

We have all wanted to be a fly on the wall in certain conversations, whether for personal or business reasons. SpyCatcher can make this happen. Labuschagne can provide audio listening solutions that can capture a conversation while the listener is located far away.

For example, as in the image, the company offers a GSM mouse. This is a normal mouse that operates via a standard USB port. The power drawn from the USB port, however, also powers a GSM device hidden in the mouse. All one needs do is install the mouse on a ‘person of interest’s’ desk – which involves plugging the USB cable in and inserting a GSM SIM card in the mouse.

Once installed, whenever you want to listen to a conversation at that individual’s desk, simply call the number and without any noise or warning you will be connected to the mouse and able to hear what is happening in the surrounding area. If the surveillance is to take place over an extended time, Labuschagne advises users to use a contract SIM card since prepaid ones are cancelled if a call is not made within a certain time and it may not be advisable to be seen making a call from your target’s mouse.

If you want to be less visible, you can also get a multiplug extension with a GSM transmitter as well as power surge protection.

The company also sells a pen, which works as an ordinary pen, but also records conversations within a 5-metre to 10-metre radius, depending on the environment and the voices of those being recorded. The pen recorder can record up to 4,5 hours of high quality, or 18 hours of low quality audio. Which can be played direct from the pen or saved on computer if required.

Watch what you do

Should you be in the market for some incriminating video instead of audio footage, SpyCatcher can also help with that. From a pinhole video camera in your tie that captures any meetings surreptitiously, through to another pen, this time with high-definition video recording, there is almost no way people can stop you spying on them.

The HD pen records video and audio onto an 8 GB flash drive, along with the time and date stamp to ensure your evidence is ready for court. Its batteries will allow for about 3,5 hours of recording and it can also record still images.

If you are not the tie or pen type, there is also a lighter (see image) which can record up to 2 hours of standard 720x480 video footage. And for the really hip and with-it crowd, there is a working mini iPod that can also record video while playing music at the same time. And for the sporty types, there is the splash-proof wristwatch sporting an HD camera (see image). The watch has two batteries, one for the watch and one for the camera, which are rechargeable. If you are a member of the nerd herd, you can always get an HD camera in your spectacles.

Mobile woes

If you are the type to leave your mobile phone on the desk all by itself, think again. Labuschagne explains that by simply installing a bit of software on your favourite smartphone an intruder can silently and inconspicuously dial in and listen to any conversations you are having around the boardroom table.

To counter any intrusion attempts such as this, the company also provides a device that is carried in a cellphone pouch. Should any intruders dial in to the cellphone and try to listen in, the device will ensure all they hear is static white noise, preserving the privacy of your conversations. SpyCatcher also provides an encryption solution to make sure your cellular calls are secure no matter how sophisticated the listener’s technology and skills are.

Counter surveillance

It would not be cricket if SpyCatcher did not provide the products to beat the spies and it does this with a range of counter surveillance solutions, from simple camera detectors to kits only the government or police can use that identify UHF or any GSM listening devices.

The infrared camera detector provides a simple way of ensuring there are no pinhole (or any other) cameras watching you, while other devices will alert you when they detect a GSM or network device sending data to a remote listener. A microphone blocking device is also available for those who want to ensure their conversations are not recorded. And, although businesses need a licence for it, jamming devices can also be obtained from the company.

Finally, SpyCatcher offers a host of other products, from armoured vehicles to night vision devices. It also has a range of personal protection solutions, from bulletproof vests, through to slash and stab-proof clothing. To view the range of products, go to or call Etienne Labuschagne on +27 (0)79 888 2804.

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