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Spying Techniques 101

All this talk about the U.S. government spying on Americans, secret CIA prisons, informants, etc., has me thinking people need to know more about spying. Spying is actually a licensed industry. I did private detective work in the late 1990's-2000, and it was an eye opening experience. I learned if you feel you are being followed, SLOW DOWN. It is almost impossible to follow a car going noticeably slow without raising suspicion...
Spying Techniques 101
By Kirsten Anderberg (www.kirstenanderberg.com)

All this talk about the U.S. government spying on Americans, secret CIA prisons abroad, FBI roundups of environmental activists in a sting last week, based on informants, rather than evidence, etc., has me thinking people need to know more about spying. Spying is actually a licensed industry in most, if not all, states. I did private detective work in the late 1990's-2000, and it was an eye opening experience, most certainly. For instance, I learned if you feel you are being followed, SLOW DOWN. It is almost impossible to follow a car going noticeably slow without raising suspicion. I found out about "bumper beepers," which are devices you can simply slap on someone's car, under their bumper, and then GPS will track their every move for you. Somehow it seems these are legal for private detectives, not just police, to use.

One of the funny parts of the spying industry is the spies spy on each other. The spying office I worked at got a letter from another spy in town saying they had video footage to prove that the office was using many business names that it had no license for. The spy office I worked at had an assortment of fake magnetic signs for the sides of its vehicles. The signs usually had names that implied a business like appliance repair or utility work, yet the signs were not for real businesses. (I noticed after the 9/11 attacks, there were reports in the NYTimes about a lower level CIA parking lot. The report said a bunch of taxis, appliance and utility vehicles in that lot below actually belonged to the CIA, not the businesses associated with the outsides of the vehicles, which immediately reminded me of the spy office I worked at.)

As I stated above, vehicles used for spying often pose as things like taxis, appliance repair or utility repair crews. A tip-off of a spy van/car in your neighborhood is dark tinted windows. If you cannot see inside a car parked near your home, that is a red flag. One of the spies from the office I worked at was spying on someone and he fell asleep on the job. He basically set the camera to go, and sat for hours and fell asleep. When he woke up, his van was blacked out! The people in the neighborhood put cardboard on all his windows! And they also parked his van in, with cars right up to his bumpers, in the front and back of him! Apparently that neighborhood had been having a bunch of nasty divorces and spying incidents in the past, and they weren't having it! He had to call the police to rescue him! He proved he had a Private Investigator license, that he was on assignment from a spying office and finally, the sheriff got him out of there!

Another way to spot a spy vehicle is the license plate numbering. Every state has codes regarding the numbering. I do not know what the current codes are, but in the past, Washington state used special coding for government vehicles. A 1-2 letter suffix or prefix indicates different things. For instance, in the past, a B and/or M stood for state owned, a C for county owned, a D for city owned, SP for State Patrol, WSP for Washington State Patrol, etc. In the past, codes for California included the use of A in licenses for state assemblymen, Aa for Assemblyman's personal vehicle, S for state senator, Ss for senator's personal vehicle, Ss for retired senator,... I don't know if they still use this, but in the past, Calif. had a license code of a diamond with an E in it for state owned vehicles, a stop sign shape with an E in it for city or county owned vehicles, and a triangle with two P's in it for a press photographer's vehicle.

It is amazing how much vehicles are actually used in the spying game. The spy office in Seattle I was privy to used many dummy vehicles. They would park them somewhere near the home of the people they were paid to spy on. Then underneath the passenger side dashboard was a little joystick thing and a screen. There were cameras mounted in the taillight sections on the side and back of the car. The joystick in the front was maneuvered to get a proper camera angle, through the back reflectors, on the person's home and driveway. If possible, the goal was to get the front door and the driveway activity on camera. The spy then locked the car, and walked a few blocks away where another spy picked him up. A camera with a VCR and tapes, and battery packs were in the trunk of the car left on the street and the camera was motion sensitive, so it only filmed when something happened. Every day or two, someone would retrieve and change the tapes casually in the trunk, or when done with surveillance, the spy would again walk up to the car and drive it away. So, vehicles sitting on your street can actually be spying on you with no one in them.

Another thing the spy office I worked at did was use what they called "bumper beepers." There were little units you could attach under someone's bumper without them noticing it. As soon as the bumper beeper was on, you could track their every move via GPS. Right now, in Dec. of 2005, there is a big outrage at Bush's admissions of approving what some are calling illegal spying on U.S. citizens. This follows other trends, such as the use of bumper beepers by the government to spy on Americans. Earlier this year, in Jan. 2005, a Boston Globe article ( link to www.boston.com) by Hiawatha Bray, says, "It's possible the police have attached an electronic tracking device to my humble Ford Contour, enabling them to track its every voyage. Unlikely, but possible -- and perfectly legal, according to a federal court ruling handed down in New York this month. It seems that police have an unlimited right to use digital technology to track our movements, all in the name of keeping us safe. Somehow, I don't feel any safer." You might want to check under your bumpers for strange discs or boxes next time you go out.

Another thing I learned at that spy office in Seattle is that spies rely heavily on stereotyping. They try to figure out what people will do, etc. by things like the cars they drive and clothing they wear. As a matter of fact, more than once, the spies at our office were miffed trying to find a person, only to figure out that they were crossdressers so the woman who lived where they kept thinking they would find the man they wanted to film, was the man. It took a while for them to figure that out each time it happened.

As outsiders, people who watch, spies often make generalizations based on third hand observations, missing the core of what is actually going on. Much as the current FBI sweep of environmental activists associated with the NW that happened last week, that type of profiling is rampant all throughout the history of spying. Maybe they need to dehumanize the people they are spying on to quell their conscience, but it is odd how spies talk at times.

For instance, I was handed something entitled, "Insurance Fraud Investigator's Guide to Gypsy Organized Criminal Groups" a few years back. It says it was "prepared by Professionals Against Confidence Crime, Not-for-profit International Organization of Law Enforcement Professionals... " Inside this "guide" is a long list of racist stereotyping. Interestingly, I see now, for the first time ever, that there is this insert on the bottom of the first page... "This document is the property of the Professionals Against Confidence Crime. It is being distributed to your agency with the understanding that it is not to be further disseminated outside of your agency without the consent of the originator. Distribution within your agency is to be protected in accordance with the normal safeguards for sensitive information. Prepared by Detective Dennis M. Marlock, Professionals Against Confidence Crime, (414) 935-7325." This document was not given to me in some hush-hush manner. I have had this document for years and never even noticed that disclaimer. I am reporting what I am seeing in this document as a reporter who was handed this document due to my interest in racism and human rights issues. But obviously from that first disclaimer, you can see, this is controversial stuff and apparently Marlock did not want people to know about his involvement in this racist project. (I wouldn't be surprised if he was patrolling with the Minutemen now!) I was handed this document by a concerned person who wanted the racism in this document exposed, thus I feel I have no obligation towards this organization at this point, and feel I have more of an obligation as a reporter to say what is printed therein.

Marlock's "Gypsy" crime "guide" starts off, "For decades, groups of highly organized criminals, who choose to call themselves Gypsies, have viewed the insurance industry as "an easy source of unlimited income."" The word Gypsy is then defined as "a criminal lifestyle of thievery and deception dating back to 1000 AD, of or pertaining to that segment of the Romani population who have combined toether for the purpose of obtaining monetary gains, wholly or in part by illegal means, while protecting their criminal activities through a pattern of graft and corruption." Then Romani and Romany are defines and there is a disclaimer that says "The word Gypsy denotes a criminal lifestyle of thievery and deception and is not intended to include the law abiding members of Romani society." Then Marlock lists "fraud claim identifiers," such as "claimant rents home or apt., claimant has unlisted telephone, claimant presented a "traveler card ID... "" But the most telling "identifier" was this one: "During a home visit investigator noticed that the furniture was covered by plastic slipcovers. Adult females wore ankle-length dresses. Everyone connected with the case spoke with some type of foreign accent." The document goes on, "The indic languages of these criminal groups is a Sanskrit based language known as Romany. Although Gypsies can speak many different languages, including English, they all tend to speak with a noticeable accent."

A quick google on Marlock's name shows entries like "The most vocal crusader against "Gypsy scams" is a Detective Dennis Marlock of the Milwaukee Police Department and president of Professionals Against Confidence Crimes" and a look at his website shows I am not the first to call him a racist and that he has not exactly hidden this view of his. He has more of this type of rhetoric prevalent in the "guide" I have, on his website. His website at  http://www.fraudtech.bizland.com/insurance_fraud.htm says, "Criminal Gypsies look on insurance companies with the same appreciation and gratitude they hold for welfare agencies; both are sources of easy money, and both are heavily patronized. Just as Gypsies may be on welfare rolls at several offices, so they often insure their cars, homes, and personal property with multiple companies, anticipating, with reason, that some unfavorable event is bound to occur for which all the insurance companies will pay restitution. Were it possible to isolate the accounts of Gypsies in insurance company records, those accounts would undoubtedly show that Gypsies as a population are extremely jinxed, Gypsies are unusually frequent victims of thieves and are very accident prone... the Gypsies slip on spilled products in grocery stores, trip over items in the aisles of department stores, and tumble down stairs almost everywhere. The injuries they sustain in all kinds of accidents are predominately to the soft parts of the body, to the back and to the head, injuries that commonly leave physicians perplexed as to their exact nature. With the Gypsies' lawyers threatening lawsuits, insurance companies usually pay hastily and well for the suffering the Gypsies endure."

Marlock's "guide" that I have, also had a strange homage for their "Closing View." It has a Romani man saying to his son that he did not want his son involved with the Gypsy "garbage." The story says, "He concluded by stating that it was the criminal Gypsies who have placed a stigma on his entire race. That honest Romani are frustrated are chagrined to be categorized with the Gypsies is understandable, that they willingly accept the designation is astounding and that they defend Gypsies is incomprehensible. As for the Rom just cited clearly recognized, the enemies of the Romani are not the police, the prosecutors and the judges. Nor are they the reporters, news commentators and talk show hosts who help educate the public about the thieves in their midst. The enemies of the Romani are the Gypsies who have created the common image and perpetuate it through their criminal activities. Marlock and Dowling, Paladin Press, 1993"

My God, does that ever sound identical to the rhetoric coming out of the Bush administration about the Middle East and Islam. This thing where some outsider comes in and tells people to stop all tradition and to dress a certain way so we can tell them apart from the "bad guys" is absolutely racist and unbelievable, or incomprehensible, as their "closing view" said. The only way to not be deemed the bad guy with racist pigs is to talk, dress and act like them! In the Vietnam war, the U.S. soldiers could not tell villagers from the enemy combatants. So the policy was, if they were dead, they were the enemy. Philip Caputo in "A Rumor of War," writes, "This lead to such practices as counting civilians as Viet Cong. "If it's dead and Vietnamese, it's V.C." was a rule of thumb in the bush."

In an article about one of the activists arrested last week in the FBI sweeps, by Craig Welch, in the Dec. 17, 2005 Seattle Times, he says, "a 6 hour search of Rodgers' home and office revealed suspected bomb-making materials such as timers and re-lighting birthday candles, three guns, and two digital photos of nude, prepubescent girls." Okay, that last one was for the same effect as the national photos of Saddam arrested, disheveled, in his underwear. Humiliation. So how is porn a bomb making device again? And what relevance does that have, at all, to that article? That, right there, shows me an attempt to slur character from the get go. Not sure how guns are considered "bomb making" devices either. That also seemed irrelevant in a cite about the "bomb making evidence" from his home's search. Honestly, if they searched his whole house, and that was the best they could come up with, that he is making bombs because he owns guns and porn, some birthday candles and a timer, that is not very convincing, honestly And the other "evidence" from "informants" is also very fuzzy.

My experience with police and private investigators is they are an unbelievably racist lot. When in private, racist profiling exists and flourishes. As you can see, the man behind the "Gypsy" guide did not want to be outted at one point, but then it seems he outted himself in the end. We hear Marlock talking about Romanis and "Gypsies" the same way Bush talks about Muslims and "terrorists," the same way the FBI talk about environmentalists and "eco-terrorists," and the same way American overlords talked about the dead Vietnamese in the Vietnam war. And when we try to ask the officials about this, they use "executive privilege," "national security," etc. to evade questions and answers. KIRO News (CBS) in Seattle reported the NYTimes did not release the story about the Bush regime spying on Americans for SEVERAL YEARS at the request of Bush, believing its release would hurt national security. I wonder what made them finally drop that ball to the public. But I wonder what other stories of import the NYTimes are hiding for Bush for years now, as well.

The lack of accountability, the flimsiness of evidence from informants, the racism and profiling, the inflammatory language, the hidden prisons the CIA is running all over the world... spies and the government need to be scrutinized, not believed. Mad Magazine had a cartoon called Spy Vs. Spy. With more people and groups profiled and hunted down by the pro-corporate U.S. government, it is getting to be a spy vs. spy situation here, whether we like it or not. Because we are now being spied on, we are spying on the spies spying on us. They kind of dragged us into this spying game. But it would do us all well to learn more about the private investigator and spy industry, as it is in every major city. There are almost 100 listings under "Investigator" in the Seattle phone book alone. The private detective company I worked at, which is in those listings, was hired by the city and state. That "private" moniker is blurred. Who do you think those 100 spy companies in Seattle are spying on? This site,  http://www.crimetime.com/licensing.htm, lists the private investigator licensing requirements of all the states. Think about this industry, what it does, and how it relates to your civil liberties and freedoms.

homepage: homepage: http://www.kirstenanderberg.com

Another good article by Kirsten 20.Dec.2005 07:35

Man on the street

Kirsten I checked out your website by doing a google search. (The link you posted didn't work) I spend a lot of my advocating about issues of poverty in Portland. I have sincere respect for the work you are doing keep it up!

America a Culture of Control and Surveillance 20.Dec.2005 17:38


Thanks for the article. It was thoughtful and well written. If you are an activist there is a chance you are surveilled on line, at work, your emails, and books checked from the out libary. As Pink Floyd so eloquently put it welcome to the machine. If the New York Times so called beacon of the free press hold's off on printing a story for a year to appease the Bush administration while they grossly violate our civil rights. It's a sadder and darker time than I had imagined.

question 28.Dec.2005 13:43

this one guy

How does one obtain a job at a spy agency? I think it would be a really good opportunity to infiltrate the infiltrators.

getting a spy job 30.Dec.2005 14:42


You are right. It is a very good way to infiltrate the infiltrators. I am amazed I am the only one I ever met who did that. For me, I knew a gal and knew her family over the years and her oldest sister was actually playing Frankenfurter on stage at Rocky Horror showings from Seattle to Pdx in 1978, and then she got so into all the makeup and costumes, and she started being a spy! After a while, her agency was so successful she began to hire family and close friends. But then as she wore those people out, she had to hire strangers and she would do things like hire some guy at a Radio Shack who sold her batteries on the spot! She needed big guys who would sit in vans with cameras all day basically. And then there was the office crew which was predominantly women which did all the work on phones, computers, etc...don;t know why it is broken down on gender sterotyped lines like that...I believe one of the spy vans from our office was shot at before...it can be dangerous in the field if agents get caught. Anyway, if you want to be a private detective and to play Spy vs Spy, you can go to the link in the article and look up the LICENSING requirements to become a spy. And they have schools you can go to and get connected to the industry too. After I worked at the one spy office, I just called one out of a phone book to get a job at another spy office at one point. It sounds much more cloaked in mystery than it is honestly.