Own Your Own Government Surveillance Van

A used government surveillance van is for sale in Chicago:

So how was this van turned into a mobile spying center? Well, let’s start with how it has more LCD monitors than a Counterstrike LAN party. They can be used to monitor any of six different video inputs including a videoscope camera. A videoscope and a borescope are very similar as they’re both cameras on the ends of optical fibers, so the same tech you’d use to inspect cylinder walls is also useful for surveillance. Kind of cool, right? Multiple Sony DVD-based video recorders store footage captured by cameras, audio recorders by high-end equipment brand Marantz capture sounds, and time and date generators sync gathered media up for accurate analysis. Circling back around to audio, this van features seven different audio inputs including a body wire channel.

Only $26,795, but you can probably negotiate them down.

Posted on August 31, 2023 at 7:06 AM15 Comments


one4u2c August 31, 2023 11:35 AM

I have bought 2 cars from that dealership. Previously used government cars are super cheap. Currently in a 2018 Tahoe was a Sherrif from Montana’s personal ride. These guys do amazing work, they usually change tires, fix all issues (minus beauty marks). If anyone is interested buy with confidence! Would love to get an LLC named FBI Plumbing and put that sticker on the side of the van lol

Snarki, child of Loki August 31, 2023 12:57 PM

I make sure to set my WiFi network ESSID to “FBIVAN3” just for funsies.

The “3” part is extra-devious.

SocraticGadfly August 31, 2023 3:30 PM

Would be cool to buy that, then deliberately cruise only in front of the White House, the Pentagon and Fort Meade.

Tatütata August 31, 2023 3:44 PM

This van isn’t white. It’s not the real thing.

(I have a sudden urge to watch again Coppola’s “The Conversation”).

1984 August 31, 2023 4:47 PM

Is that an 8 track unit?
Others true cutting edge tech.
This is a true picture of the past.

Not a Hillary Van, snoor.

pup vas August 31, 2023 4:55 PM

Can you legally use it for surveillance after bought it?
Or it is like with guns in that state – you can have permit, gun but so many other legal requirements applied so you could not actually efficiently use it for self-defense: storage, be unloaded, store gun and bullets in separate space you name it that creates advantage for criminals – they are now protected class in US rather than law-abiding citizens.

bl5q sw5N August 31, 2023 5:41 PM

With apologies to The Beatles

Baby you can drive my van,
Yes, I’ll be an agent then,
Baby you can drive my van
And maybe I’ll surveil you

I told that girl I could start right away
When she said, “Listen, babe, I got things to surveil
I got no van and it’s breaking my heart
But I found a driver and that’s a start”


Dave August 31, 2023 7:06 PM

I make sure to set my WiFi network ESSID to “FBIVAN3” just for funsies.

I did something like that, “SIS Surveillance Van #4”, and promptly forgot about it. A few weeks later I got an urgent call from the neighbour’s son about something really shocking he’d just discovered…

Vi Mcknight August 31, 2023 8:54 PM

@ pup vas,

Can you legally use it for surveillance after bought it?

Why not? Private Investigators require licensing in some states, and not others, but that’s generally a business regulation. If you’re not selling your services, I don’t think anything forbids surveillance. Just make sure you’re parked legally (watch out for anti-van-dweller laws in particular).

In California, for example, “7521. A private investigator within the meaning of this chapter is a person […] who, for any consideration whatsoever engages in business or accepts employment […] 7522. This chapter does not apply to: (a) A person employed exclusively and regularly by any employer who does not provide contract security services for other entities or persons, in connection with the affairs of that employer only and where there exists an employer-employee relationship if that person at no time carries or uses any deadly weapon in the performance of that person’s duties.”

Clive Robinson September 1, 2023 7:57 AM

@ Vi Mcknight,

You’ve not considered “wire tap” regulation and legislation.

It has very very broad skirts.

For instance whilst CCTV is legal, in banks and similar you can not record audio because it’s considered to be a form of wire tap.

The same applies to all electronic surveillance where it is possible for some form of recording to be made.

So much so that if you give evidence and it is challenged, and you produce an audio recording to show you are telling the truth, then your evidence can be entirely thrown out due to it in part due to wire tap, and in part due to withholding it (so in effrct a setup for a deliberate entrapment).

Thus the trick is to show “contemporaneous notes” that are effectively a “transcript” made at the time or soon after. Thus the audio recording magically becomes legal like a shorthand note book, as it’s purpose was either as an “Aide-mémoire” or for an impartial third party to type up (think time shifted stenographer).

As is so often the case,

“It’s not the action but the intention”

That makes it a crime or not under the notion of,

“actus reus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea”

Or in english “the act is not culpable unless the mind is guilty”.

vas pup September 2, 2023 4:39 PM

@Vi Mcknight,@Clive – thank you for your input.

@Clive said “For instance whilst CCTV is legal, in banks and similar you can not record audio because it’s considered to be a form of wire tap”

Having access to AI tools it is easy to translate image (lips moving) into the real speech. Looks like those restrictions are not up to date with technology. So mask should be applied being in the bank to eliminate such possibility.

Clive Robinson September 2, 2023 5:34 PM

@ vas pup, Vi Mcknight, ALL,

Re : Lip reading of CCTV.

“Having access to AI tools it is easy to translate image (lips moving) into the real speech. Looks like those restrictions are not up to date with technology.”

Lip reading of CCTV footage has always been possible especially with eye hight cameras.

It’s one of the less well known reasons why CCTV cameras are usually placed high and to look down at 45 or more degrees, so that lip reading is difficult.

But also lip reading is an aquired skill, something I’ve had to come to terms with as I suffer from increasingly blocking tinitus, for which hearing aids do not work.

Oh and for fun when younger I learned to speak sing –not that well– with barely moving my lips, and when smiling, oh and to whistle a tune when smiling as well… Yes it’s a silly party trick most of the time but occasionaly it has it’s uses when “standing on Parade” and similar.

ResearcherZero September 8, 2023 5:08 AM

@Vi Mcknight

Codification is the process of compiling rules and laws into an orderly, formal code.
Australia has no bill of rights for example, and a lack of codification of law in many areas, with differing laws in each state. In some jurisdictions agreeing to answering questions allows audio to be reordered. In others, a warrant may be required, depending on who is conducting the interview and the circumstances.

Audio recording may be permitted if you seek permission beforehand, subject to the laws of the state. However use of the recorded audio may also be challenged, dependent on the context. If someone gave false evidence, an audio recording may possibly be used to challenge the specific evidence in question, again dependent on context.

judicial precedent, judge-made law, and case law

Common law is law that is derived from judicial decisions (stated in written opinions) instead of from statutes. Codification in common-law is therefor less understood.


The United States Code is a consolidation and codification by subject matter of the general and permanent laws of the United States.


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