How to Detect an Electronic Bug

By Flora Richards-Gustafson

You might have a bug problem and not even know it. An electronic bug is a listening or video device installed in a room or telephone or placed on a person's body to eavesdrop on conversations or observe a location. The legality of bugging a room is often questioned, especially when the parties who are being listened to are unaware that someone else is hearing their conversation. Individuals who suspect that they are in the presence of an electronic bug can take measures to search for unusual radio signals.

Step 1

Look in your phone. A phone that has detachable parts, such as a battery cover, can have a bug placed in it. Sometimes finding a bug is as simple as taking the phone apart.

Step 2

Use a nonlinear junction detector. A semiconductor in a bug will generate "harmonics" in response to a device transmitting radio waves at a frequency of 1 gigahertz, according to the Advance Electronic Security Co. You operate a nonlinear junction detector, which resembles a metal detector, by sweeping it over walls, bookshelves, furniture and the floor while keeping an eye on the device's needle. If the needle swings to the right, there is a radio signal in that area.You can purchase a nonlinear junction detector from a specialty electronics store or rent one from a countersurveillance supplier.

Step 3

Use a radio frequency scanner. RF scanners detect radio signals in a certain frequency range. The Granite Island Group states that an RF scanner can scan signals from a 20-kilohertz range up to the 8-gigahertz microwave range. The scanner works like a radio and comes with a dial and a screen that shows a series of peaks when a signal is detected. To search for different frequencies, tune the RF device to where you detected larger peaks on the screen and search that area for an electronic bug. RF scanners can also detect cameras hidden in items such as clocks or stuffed animals or on people. You can purchase an RF scanner from a hobby radio store or from countersurveillance suppliers.

Step 4

X-raying is a surefire way to find devices located in a wall that a nonlinear junction detector or an RF scanner may not detect. However, the process is time-consuming if the bug is not found right away. You can purchase a special X-ray machine for seeking electronic bugs from countersurveillance suppliers.