Spy equipment, cheap spy equipment, spy gear

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Hi-tech surveillance

Jon Ralph
ONE of Australia's leading private eyes says hi-tech spying and surveillance is alive and well in Australian football.
Warren Millard, the managing director of Lyonswood Investigations and Forensic, says AFL clubs can gather significant advantages from using spy tactics on match day and during opposition training sessions.

They range from using lip readers or directional microphones to tape or capture quarter-time speeches and coaches' box instructions, to observing rivals' game-plan tactics with hi-tech binoculars during training sessions.

Millard's warning comes after the AFL was this week forced to investigate allegations a Bulldogs runner was electronically wired up and delivering messages to trainers.

Rumours swept AFL clubs that spies were using advanced technology to gather information and get the jump on opposition coaching tactics and instructions.

Sydney-based Millard would not confirm which football code the technology was being used in, but said it would be naive to think AFL clubs had not considered it.

"I can guarantee you that spying in the footy industry does happen. We call it a competitive advantage. You need reliable information on your competitors so you can make competitive decisions," he said.

"In The Art of War, Sun Tzu said if you do not know the plans of your competitors you cannot make informed alliances."

While AFL clubs have long played ducks and drakes over late team changes and injury reports, forward scouting has been taken to new levels in recent years.

Clubs have banned rival scouts from training sessions and are preventing video cameras being used to ensure sensitive tactics and stop-play manoeuvres are not uncovered.

In America's National Football League, head coaches cover their lips when speaking into headsets to ensure lip readers do not discover which set play they are calling for their team.

While AFL clubs say it is unlikely they would go to those lengths, Millard says the technology is readily available.

"Lip reading is common. Whilst it is unlawful to record a conversation with a listening device there is nothing to prevent you from overhearing it. And a person who lip reads overhears it in a different way."

Millard says directional, or parabolic microphones, are often used in surveillance that pick up conversations up to 2km away.

But rivals in the surveillance field, including Mark Muratore from Spyquip World, said yesterday the background noise from a football crowd would cause too much interference.

"If you tried to use something like a shotgun mike at a football game, you would be hard pressed to get any clarity," he said.

Richmond has been prevented from using its Motorola headsets at certain games in recent years because rivals using the same brand of headsets can tap into the audio channels.

Victorian clubs setting up audio equipment before games while Adelaide trains at AAMI Stadium have unwittingly tapped into Adelaide's advanced set-up, which has coaches and players wired for sound.

Millard said it was no problem for clubs to capture opposition training sessions despite safeguards in place.

"You can easily take a camera that is disguised in the form of binoculars. They are specialised, like most spy equipment, but you can set up a camera in a theodolite (surveying machine), or a camera can be built into a tree stump. Cameras are so tiny nowadays, they are only limited to your imagination."


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