Spy Gadgets You Can Buy


This is a collection of “spy equipment” we have found for sale around the internet. Everything here is completely real, is sold at online stores, and almost any item listed here costs less than $500, and often times can be bought for less than $200.

What’s interesting to me is less what is available commercially today, but what we can extrapolate is available to real spies.

Posted on July 13, 2006 at 1:50 PM20 Comments


bob July 13, 2006 3:25 PM

I had always theorized a peephole reverser was feasible, although I never made one or saw one for sale. I always plug my hotel room peepholes with a little wad of toilet paper though.

At home I am more sophisticated, I use an E-A-R foam plug, fits perfect. Also keeps it from going from light to dark when I answer the door for normal people who dont have a reverser.

Mike July 13, 2006 4:19 PM


You might also want to try wearing a foil hat when on the phone so the NSA can;t pick up what you’re saying …….

Wayne July 13, 2006 5:06 PM

The problem with the keyboard dongle logger is that most new systems only do USB now days, the PS2 connector is now no longer part of the spec.

Milan July 13, 2006 5:07 PM

I have seen all this stuff available at a normal shop in downtown Vancouver. It used to be called ‘Spy v. Spy,’ though I think it is now called ‘Spy City.’

They also have a large amount of literature on everything from identity theft to hand-to-hand combat.

Mike July 13, 2006 5:35 PM


Not really spray; it causes flatulence in people. Could brighten up any day in the office after getting a round of drinks.

Then when you get blamed just pop a couple of blood capsules and wait for the ambulance to arrive to make your escape!!

D V Henkel-Wallace July 13, 2006 7:49 PM

Can you really extrapolate much from what’s here to support the theory that “Q” might produce something much better? After all, the military’s technology isn’t generally significantly better than civilian (certain aspects of aircraft design and of control electronics excepted).

We think of civilian stuff as getting the advantage of being able to spread the capital expenditure over a huge volume, but we can assume the spooks are completely immune to capital constraints. Even so, the other advantage of producing (for example) a million iPods (or pocket cameras or cars or …) is that you step the design based on stuff you’ve learned along the way _in the middle of production. You also get a lot of performance and reliability data on how your product behaves in a variety of environments. I wouldn’t want a super-important device to fail because it was one of the first ones off the production line!

Oh yea, and the civilian stuff is a hell of a lot easier to explain when you’re picked up by the other guys’ cops….

Foxyshadis July 14, 2006 1:28 AM

Almost all of this really seems like mob movie era stuff, aside from the wireless transmitters and pinhole cameras, which are more mid-90’s mike hammer stuff. 😉

The state of the art is cameras that compress and store, and if they send at all, it’s only in short sharp bursts, on a schedule or a signal. You can’t very well track something that only sends (randomish data) every few minutes for half a second, and of course you can’t see it.

If you’ve ever seen a microSD card, they can store a half-gig for $20 in something the size of a pinkienail. Which means the military could have 4-8 gig versions. You could store hours of high-res, or a day of low-res video on those between retrievals. All you need is some expermental tiny hi-capacity batteries. Cool, huh?

bob July 14, 2006 7:11 AM

@mike: No, you can keep your tinfoil hat. I doubt foil would ‘foil’ the NSA. I would want more like a Faraday cage for the entire house, and of course tempest filters on all electrical conductors penetrating the perimeter.

However, I do like having plausible deniability when religious proselytizers come to the door and I dont want to be bothered.

shoobe01 July 14, 2006 11:13 AM

Not sure how much I believe this list. Some that I know of in detail are not quite right, price wise at least. Night Vision is available for under $500, sure. But I wouldn’t buy any. $4000-25,000.

jayh July 14, 2006 1:44 PM

I always like the wireless battery security cameras you can buy at radio shack etc (and they’re really small if you gut them out of their plastic cases). One person carries the camera hidden (great for live coverage of police activity at demonstrations, etc) but when he gets snagged, the images are already gone to a quiet nearby compatriot for storage or retransmission. Seizing the equipment does nothing.

Disgusted July 19, 2006 10:30 AM

All of the sites listed are thinly-veiled attempts at monetization = a bad thing. They are merely trying to trap you into clicking on Google ads, however irrelevant to the subject at hand.

Please don’t support them.

Bruce, please be more discriminating on what you point us toward.

FOKY November 7, 2006 11:46 AM

I think it shold be aganist the law that web sites are allowed to put up info.about spygadgets,as you know it will give people all types of ideala to harress
someone,its bad enough that you have to already watch what you say on the phones.

magpie October 16, 2007 11:08 PM

what can you say to people who have no idea to the extremes that the mob will trail and keep tabs on you. Nothinig!!!!! To those that have an inkling you would say, hey there real mean bastards. For the rest I would say WAR!

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Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.