How to Use a Radio for Bug Detection

By Todd Bowerman

Rigging a home with surveillance devices, also known as “bugging,” is often a necessary step for law enforcement to build a case against someone engaged in illegal activity. However, with bugging technology readily available at specialty electronics stores, surveillance is no longer subject to law enforcement judgment or the legal framework around it. Theoretically, any random person could purchase surveillance gear and deploy it in a home (though this behavior would be illegal). To detect any surveillance devices in your home, you can perform a rudimentary sweep with a regular AM/FM radio, but the more advanced technologies may not be detected.

Things You'll Need

  • AM/FM Radio

Step 1

Turn on your AM/FM radio and set it to the FM band.

Step 2

Find a channel of clean, steady static. You need a smooth static baseline before you can start scanning.

Step 3

Walk around your home with the radio. Listen carefully to the static for fluctuations or squeals in the tone.

Step 4

Move the radio around any room in which fluctuations occur to isolate the source. The stronger the fluctuation, the closer you are to the source of interference.

Step 5

Repeat this process throughout your home to find the location of surveillance equipment. Repeat it again on the AM band for further testing.

Tips & Warnings

  • Amateur and low-cost surveillance gear may cause interference on the AM/FM bands, but high quality gear often does not. If you are serious in your surveillance concerns, you may want to pick up a professional-grade bug scanner.
  • Be aware, however, that interference in your radio signal can have many causes. It is best to rule out the most likely possibilities before blaming it on surveillance gear.