Foiling Metal Detectors

High school kids are sneaking cell phones past metal detectors.

From the New York Post:

Savvy students are figuring out all kinds of ways to get their cell phones past metal-detectors and school-security staff at city high schools, where the devices are banned.

Kids at Martin Luther King Jr. HS on the Upper West Side put the phones behind a belt buckle -- and blame the buckle for the beeping metal-detector.

Some girls hide the phones where security guards won't look -- in their bras or between their legs.

Note that they're not fooling the metal detectors; they're fooling the people staffing the metal detectors.

Posted on October 27, 2004 at 1:44 PM • 53 Comments

Comments

want to knowOctober 27, 2004 9:48 PM

Are they really trying to fool the detectors or do the girl's phones have a vibrate mode?

Israel TorresOctober 27, 2004 9:51 PM

wait till they invest in cell phone detectors... not only will the trick be to turn off the phone at the detection points but they'll have to trade in the metal detectors to pay for the cell phone detectors and all of a sudden someone will get shot over someone hanging up one of the student-owned-contraband-phones... and hey time put those metal detectors back in, maybe later get a two-for and get some mindcrime detectors for half the price!

Israel Torres

EvaristeOctober 28, 2004 12:12 PM

From my experience, most aiport security guards check if something's hidden behind the belt buckle, too.

T.

KLP2October 28, 2004 12:49 PM

What strikes me most, as an european, is not that students try to sneak cell phones to school, but the fact that schools force students through metal detectors!
I don't think people in the USA appreciate just how weird this sounds to people outside the USA. It really sounds as if USA is turning into a police state.

RyanOctober 28, 2004 5:18 PM

There have been recent school shootings in the UK, and we know what happened in Russia. Europeans schools could very well be next.

Many Americans actually think you Euorpeans live in police states. Most Euro countries have far greater police powers, absolute gun control by the state, strict laws on carrying and presenting identification, restrictions on freedom of the press, state-controlled transportation, and most egregious of all - extremely high taxes.

MegaManOctober 28, 2004 9:46 PM

Absolute gun control makes higher security and the taxes aren't higher. It's sounds like bad propaganda from a US-guy

KitOctober 28, 2004 10:34 PM

The belt buckle thing seems taken right out of Escape From Alcatraz (circa 1979). When I've flown, the guards make people go back through the detector if it goes off. I don't know what they'd do if the traveller couldn't figure out what was setting it off, though.

sbastianOctober 29, 2004 3:16 AM

I agree to install cell phone jammer at places such as school, meeting room, etc. I found everybody here in my country (indonesia) receiving phone calls at the middle of meeting session or class (students set their phone in silent mode). But, how to install jammer, while that person is our boss? :D

nerdleyOctober 29, 2004 8:02 AM

Kids need the means to defend themselves as much or more than adults do, since both parents and school authorities are nearly always unwilling to do what it takes to prevent bullying, and unlike an adult in a similar situation, walking away isn't even an option. Plus, the police won't help either! As long as this is true, many kids NEED guns. If I'd gotten my hands on one during my high-school years, "Columbine" would have happened then. Rightfully.
If you disagree and claim the motive of "protecting" kids, why not start by making police help available to the victims of bullying? Until it is, kids at school are living in Hobbes' "state of nature" whether you accept the fact or not.

jayhOctober 29, 2004 1:40 PM

Perhaps the real problem is actually the arbitrary authoritarian desire to ban aomething that is a perfectly normal part of everyday life.

Sure phones could be a distraction. Oppressive rules will not change distractions.

QuadroOctober 31, 2004 12:52 AM

Cell phone jammers are banned by FCC rules in the US. Even if a school decided to acquire and use them secretly, students would figure out that there was something fishy going on. You just know that some student's rich parents would sue the school or complain to the FCC. I think we'll just have to put up with them, because students aren't going to want to give up their cell phones in school, so they'll find a way to use them no matter what the school does.

DavidNovember 10, 2004 3:24 PM

Cell phone jammers may well be banned by the FCC (and by the relevant authorities here in Australia also) but there's nothing to stop an organisation creating a properly licenced cell-phone transmitter that is powerful enough drown out the weaker signals from the real transmitters further away.

I've also seen research into tuneable surface coverings that can shield specific radio frequencies (if memory serves, this research came out of the UK).

QuadroDecember 3, 2004 5:37 PM

Although there is nothing technically or legally to stop one properly licensed cell transmitter from overpowering another, the licensing issue is a problem. The FCC (and probably the Australian equivalent) would never issue a license for a transmitter specifically to interfere with signals. They really hate interference. Ever read the FCC warning on any electronic items?

But how would the authorities know that a transmitter is intended to create interference? The license request itself would show all the necessary information: the applicant would not be an existing cell phone company, and they would be applying for only a few locations, ruling out the possibility of a company starting a new network.

The tuneable surface coverings, on the other hand, would be perfect for these locations, if they work well. The issue with this system, however, is cost. Most schools, movie theatres, restaurants, and other groups who would want to block cell calls simply do not have the resources to purchase expensive blocking systems, and if they did, they would probably have more important things to do with the money.

And you just know somebody's going to come up with a system to make the phones work around the blocking. Rich parents will buy enough of it to make it WalMart affordable, and then we're right back where we started, except we've wasted a LOT of money on a blocking system that has lost its effect.

Or the cell phone companies could offer to drop calls if the phone is in a certain location. (It's possible in the US thanks to the FCC's stupid location-enhanced 911 mandate) Of course, they would start offering to disable blocking on your line... for a fee.


The only solution to the problem of cell phones in schools (and other undesirable places) is to convince people that they don't want (or need) to use phones there.

shushikiaryFebruary 24, 2006 7:00 AM

LOL, you could just install some lead shielding around the entire outside of the school.... and though jamming is illegal because you simply shout out every other signal, it is possible to intercept cell phone signals and sent out a signal 180 degree's out of phase with it and cancel it out (not really jamming). That way, you can let things like 911 calls on a cell phone through (one of the main reasons cell phone jammers are illegal is they dont let 911 calls on cell phones through), but any other call could be blocked... there are a few devices like this out there, but they sure arnt as cheap as a good old jammer...

JohnSMithApril 27, 2006 9:53 AM

So to not allow cellphones in school seems pretty reasonable right... but how about the after school affect, the student coming home late, needs to call the family? Aren't many students cell phones a form of protection? They even have cute little 5 number phones for younger kids in elementry schools nowadays. And no one uses payphones. So what are our kids to do from there ?

jason b.May 16, 2006 10:29 AM

hey dude metal detectors are not cool, cell phone blockers is defienately not cool and if it blocks 911 number that is increasing the risks of a murder or multiple murders at worst

mikeSeptember 27, 2006 6:36 PM

ive sneeked in my cellphone into my school before!i live in the usa.my school has metal detectors im in jr.high!
they say that only girls can put the cellphone in between there legs but almost every boy in my school who brings there cellphones put it in between there legs!so i tried that and it worked!

JessCeeNovember 26, 2006 11:18 AM

yea, i'm doing a persuasive essay on this topic. i want metal detectors on one condition: we get our cell phones back at the end of the day!

who agrees with me that this is the right thing to do???

cuz we need cell phones to call parents or friends if there is a change in plans, or an accident occurred. but millions (exggeration) use cells for cheating.

ShawnNovember 28, 2006 12:14 PM

why not just set up an EM field strong enough to just burn them out! Or you could check out Brijot Imaging Systems, Inc. weapons detection system at Brijot.com. It will see any concealed object on a human body!

tigerpNovember 30, 2006 2:54 PM

I think cell phones are almost necessary for students at a high school level. I am in high school (in the U.S) and have had a personal experience where I was put in grave danger because I did not have my cell phone. I just need a way to get AROUND metal detectors to keep myself safe!

jessApril 1, 2007 6:11 PM

this just shows you that if they can sneek phones in they can sneek a gun in using the same version

yyuanhkApril 10, 2007 8:37 AM

Standby/Power-off Cell-phone Detection (Looking for Co-operation)

1. RF contact-less detection
2. Portable operation
3. Detection range: 1m ~ 5m, adjustable
4. Cell-phone in transmission working mode / receiving standby mode / power-off mode can be effectively detected
5. Suitable for all restrict area of prohibited cell-phone usage
6. Finish prototype fabrication & performance evaluation

KulyGyalMay 3, 2007 11:43 AM

iight...herez da deal...cell phones can be allowed...but all da other things that causes trouble should be banned..yeah!!

Lady_VyBezZMay 3, 2007 11:53 AM

Well, there are needs for metal detectors in the schools. However, cell phones should be allowed because you never now if there is something bad going on in the school. You could text people and say you are in trouble and even the cops. For example, the shooting at the college in Virginia. There are needs for metal detectors because you wouldn't want anyone come into school with knives, guns, or any other weapon not needed. Another thing teachers should check for is drugs. For example, a janitor at a school was arressted for selling drugs to minors. That is my opinion. Hope you agree.=)

nicoleMay 24, 2007 7:34 PM

there shouldnt be metal detectors at schoool becauase teenagers will find out ways to sneak in stuff..the schools are just wasting $!!!!

RobertaSeptember 3, 2007 6:49 PM

The whole idea of metal detectors in schools is ridiculous! I mean what has this world come to. I don't mind security guards checking to make sure we don't have any weapons or anything, but NO CELL PHONES! What's that about? Who are we gonna kill with a cell phone?? I live hours away from my new hs and I need my cell phone in case an emergency occurs. Heck, I need it to get home! What am I supposted to do, use telepathy to contact my mom and tell her to pick me up from the train station? Something has to be done!

EDRSeptember 14, 2007 8:34 PM

Well, I myself am a student at a HS in Chicago, and believe there should be a sort of system to allow cellphones in school, for example, having the office store them for you, and return after school, which if done valuntarily brings no punishments of any kind.I have snuck my cellphone a few times, but only to call my parents after school, to tell them ill be headed elsewhere for a while, before going home.

EDRSeptember 14, 2007 8:34 PM

Well, I myself am a student at a HS in Chicago, and believe there should be a sort of system to allow cellphones in school, for example, having the office store them for you, and return after school, which if done valuntarily brings no punishments of any kind.I have snuck my cellphone a few times, but only to call my parents after school, to tell them ill be headed elsewhere for a while, before going home.

ButtersNovember 6, 2007 8:29 AM

I think that metal detectors in schools have some uses, yet they have too many drawbacks. Metal detectors in the recent years, have made crime rates drop by abou 50% or 25%. Crime rates have come down by a lot and weapons are being confiscated. Yet, metal detector scans are too lengthy and many students end up arriving late at their first hour classes, that is if they show up at all. Metal detectors can't tell a difference between a gun and a metal belt buckle. Besides, despite the tight surveillance of metal detectors, students have found many ways to sneak in weapons into schools. There have even been games where the goal was to "beat the machine".

John AdamsNovember 17, 2007 11:45 PM

The USA is rapidly turning into a police state, primarily becasue of the spread of liberalism over the past 40 years. Liberalism is by nature anti individual, a collectivist mentality left over from the days of Stalin. Europe is already a series of police states. In most countries you must register with the police when you move, have limited personal freedom, and a total ban on self defence firearms. American would be disturbed by the government powers there, as much as we are disturbed by what is happening here. If the Clinton crime family gets back in the white house you can expect the last vestiges of liberty will be a thing of the past.

annyFebruary 28, 2008 10:39 PM

I think using metal detectors here in LA is a great idea. With the use of this tool the schools will be safe, less crimes will be done, and they could detect wepond, like guns and knives.

annyFebruary 28, 2008 10:39 PM

I think using metal detectors here in LA is a great idea. With the use of this tool the schools will be safe, less crimes will be done, and they could detect wepond, like guns and knives.

annyFebruary 28, 2008 10:39 PM

I think using metal detectors here in LA is a great idea. With the use of this tool the schools will be safe, less crimes will be done, and they could detect wepond, like guns and knives.

rileyApril 17, 2008 10:55 AM

I'm doing my persuasive speech in oral communications class about why we should have metal detectors in school. I think it's a very good idea. Why not have them? It just taking extra precaution, because sadly we have to today. I don't know what our sad world has become, but kids DO brings guns/knives to school. And they kill people. Why not stop it if given the chance?

AliceMay 1, 2008 5:34 PM

I live pretty far away from my high school and considering that I live in NYC and have to take public transportation, it will take me about one to two hours of commute time. This includes walking to the subway station, riding the train, and walking to the school building itself, with many strangers and dangers. Students like me need cell phones. I get the purpose of the metal detectors, but to ban cell phones is just outrageous, especially in cities, where teens need to rely on themselves to travel to and from school daily. Not many teens disrupt classmates and teacher during class, only the inconsiderate and "stupid" ones would since most stupid wouldn't risk getting a call or IMing and getting their cells confiscated, having parents punish them, and more. I will be a high school freshman next year and I have no idea how I will get to and from school without worrying or being bored to death on the subway trains.

Cell phones as I said are especially important to city teens where there are many strangers lurking around and teens have to rely on themselves to use public transportation to get themselves to and from school daily. Not only that, but there are many teens that have extracurricular activies and or on school teams that leave school later than usual. Teens (especially ones living in urban areas) need cell phones to keep and feel safe. I'm pretty sure that most "muggers" would targert unarmed teens without cell phones than ones with cell phones.

Basically what I'm trying to say is that the no cell phone rule isn't outrageous. But the cell phone ban is. The difference between them is that with the no cell ohone rule, students can have cell phones with the exception that they aren't a distraction to class meanwhile the cell phone ban doesn't even let students bring their cell phones to school and will confiscate any cell phone. The whole purpose of the cell phone ban is to keep cell phones out of school, but where will teens put the cell phones while they are at school so that they can use them while commuting to and from school, at home (they may live anywhere from one block to 6 miles from the school)?

AliceMay 1, 2008 5:34 PM

I live pretty far away from my high school and considering that I live in NYC and have to take public transportation, it will take me about one to two hours of commute time. This includes walking to the subway station, riding the train, and walking to the school building itself, with many strangers and dangers. Students like me need cell phones. I get the purpose of the metal detectors, but to ban cell phones is just outrageous, especially in cities, where teens need to rely on themselves to travel to and from school daily. Not many teens disrupt classmates and teacher during class, only the inconsiderate and "stupid" ones would since most stupid wouldn't risk getting a call or IMing and getting their cells confiscated, having parents punish them, and more. I will be a high school freshman next year and I have no idea how I will get to and from school without worrying or being bored to death on the subway trains.

Cell phones as I said are especially important to city teens where there are many strangers lurking around and teens have to rely on themselves to use public transportation to get themselves to and from school daily. Not only that, but there are many teens that have extracurricular activies and or on school teams that leave school later than usual. Teens (especially ones living in urban areas) need cell phones to keep and feel safe. I'm pretty sure that most "muggers" would targert unarmed teens without cell phones than ones with cell phones.

Basically what I'm trying to say is that the no cell phone rule isn't outrageous. But the cell phone ban is. The difference between them is that with the no cell ohone rule, students can have cell phones with the exception that they aren't a distraction to class meanwhile the cell phone ban doesn't even let students bring their cell phones to school and will confiscate any cell phone. The whole purpose of the cell phone ban is to keep cell phones out of school, but where will teens put the cell phones while they are at school so that they can use them while commuting to and from school, at home (they may live anywhere from one block to 6 miles from the school)?

OmegaWolf747July 31, 2008 8:50 PM

I find the presence of metal detectors in schools revolting. Are they institutions of learning, or prisons? Doesn't the Fourth Amendment apply to high school students as much as it applies to adults on the street? If it doesn't, it should. All citizens should be treated equally, regardless of age.

As for cell phones, students will continue to bring them in, despite the ban. Ban something and you automatically make it more attractive, a badge of rebellion against authority. The best thing to do is teach students cell phone etiquette, such as not using it during class and keeping it on vibrate.

YamiletSeptember 3, 2008 7:43 PM

Im a student at Norman Thomas HS NYC;; the metal detectorsz piss me off every dam morniing >=S..ok well i understand the metal detectors for identifying weapons,knifes or what not,,but not being able to have my phone in school is BS.,having a cellphone is real need!!

CiannaNovember 13, 2008 10:39 PM

well i go to school in the bronx N yea they have metal detector in my school. i have a way to get my phone in, i just call my teacher N tell her to grab my phone in for me cuz teachers does not have to go through scanning. #2 there should be more than 1 or 2 exits in da school, just tell some1 to stay by the door then pass them ur phone.

christineJanuary 8, 2009 6:36 PM

i go to school in tennessee and we also have metal detectors on random days of the week and are not allowed to have cell phones at school. i have got my cell phone in sometimes when i get lucky and not checked but i do think students need them for not only safety but have you ever thought that having metal detectors does not help at detecting weapons at all b/c how dumb would you have to be to bring a weapon into a metal detector..? i mean really? someone who is planning on shooting the school is not dumb enough to bring it on days we have metal detectors... so yeah please explain how this is protecting me??

JayJune 23, 2009 10:08 AM

my high school have metal detectors
i don't feel completely safe just because of it because i have friends that sneak in many things that arent allowed like lighters, a knife, drugs, and yeah cell phones,(etc.)..
At the sometime i dont worry because the person that sits next to me in the paRk can be moRe dangerous.

Cell phones are harmless noboDy needs it at school but after school it'll really come in handy.

Secret PatrolJune 25, 2009 3:27 PM

Where there is a will there's a way, think about this next time you hire a security 'expert' - just because they're 'certified' doesn't mean they can think like an attacker. Creative intelligence is infinitely more important than standardized cookie cutter testing.

pishyAugust 8, 2010 11:05 AM

i just slipped the phone in a pouch lined with layers of al foil. doesn't set it off (the detector)

JKLPSeptember 19, 2011 8:02 AM

Well, My school has metal detectors too but most Bronx schools have private box trucks parked outside and for a Dollar you can store your cellphone there for the whole day. They make over at least $2,000 a day!
Even though my school has 4,000 students im assuming only half leave thyere phones there. I dont go through any trouble to get my phone in thoiugh, I just leave it at home.

JamesNovember 12, 2011 12:23 AM

why cant students bring there cell phones and just take every thing out there pockets. people with guns go to jail.

adamNovember 22, 2011 2:50 AM

My school has metal detectors because quite frankly my school is ghetto. But I don't think there are may needs to have them anymore. They just want cell phones kept out. I Sony understand though, if you are the type of person who will not pay attention in class with phone , then you will most likely not pay attention whether you have it our not.

TedJanuary 23, 2013 12:21 PM

Gee whiz - how did people ever survive before cell phones were invented? Oh, right. We handled things ourselves or walked to a place with a phone.

Active cell phone blocking is illegal, but grounding out all radio signals is not - just cover the inside of the building with grounded metal mesh and the windows with grounded screens.

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