8 September 2002

To: tscm-l@yahoogroups.com
From: "Greg H. Walker, Attorney At Law" <gwalker@riskontrol.com>
Date: Fri, 06 Sep 2002 10:17:59 -0500
Subject: [TSCM-L] Re: Tracking device detection

Dear Group:

I am a major user of RF tracking devices which just sit and wait for a signal to respond and then their response is done so in a burst of about 20 microseconds.  In 5 years of using these devices I have never had one found that was installed inside of the interior of the vehicle and the cars have been in for repairs of every kind and nature, including electrical repairs.  We have had them on police cars (for the internal affairs people) and on former military counter-intelligence people (marital).

Steve and James are so correct when they say that only a really well trained TSCMer will find them -- anybody else trying is just lucky if they find one because of the very short burst -- some of are units are queried every five minutes and others every 30 minutes and the schedule changes from time of day and the day of the week depending on what we expect the vehicle to be engaged in. 

We have had PI's with their toys try to find them, but never a hardcore TSCM professional.

Since I never see anyone on this list within my operating area let me give you some information.

We install the unit inside of the vehicle and actually take the interior apart to put them in underneath the plastic panels that make up modern vehicle interiors, on rare occasions we will put the unit in the trunk back near the wall separating the trunk and the passenger compartment, but on the side panels.  A favorite place in a truck is in the passenger's side front kick panel.  Some vehicles also lend themselves nicely to taking out the glove box and putting them deep inside of the dash.  On SUV's we often put them to either side of the large tailgate type back door.  We have been forced to put them under the back seat, our least favorite spot and usually carve out some of the foam in the seat to slip the unit into.

The units will have two wires coming from it, one will be a coaxial cable which is the antenna (there is the unit and the antenna and the unit can go darn near anywhere where it can be concealed, but the placement of the antenna is absolutely key).  Our preferred spot is to bring the cable up a side post of the vehicle nearest where we put the unit and then put the antenna between the headliner and the metal roof with the working end of the antenna (our antennas are either a flat square or flat round and are about the size of a 3-1/2 inch floppy disk and about 1/2 inch thick) pointing down into the passenger compartment so that the burst will have plenty of glass to exit through.  In some instances we have had to put them underneath the shelf between the back seat and the rear window and on occasion in a side panel itself and once or twice high up into the dashboard (usually a van or large truck without a headliner).

By the way, you usually cannot find the antenna by palpating the headliner or even visually examining the headliner because today headliners are thick and foam padded.

The second wire will be a power supply wire and it will either go to a battery set (ours are specially made and shrunk wrapped in a heavy black plastic -- we have two sizes one consisting of 8 D size regular alkaline batteries, usually Duracell, and the other consisting of, as I recall (I can't find one to look at right now) 16  2/3 AA lithiums -- quite expensive and also specially built and shrunk wrapped or it will go to the vehicle's own power supply (which is what we do almost 100% of the time today) {Steve and I have a friendly difference of opinion on the legality of this, however, since under Texas law we have to the permission of an owner or lessee of the vehicle to even install the device it includes the consent to connect to the vehicle electrical system} -- we will connect either to a full time live wire near where the unit is placed or we will run a wire under the carpet, side molding, etc. to the fuse box and we have a special little hook like thing that fits into the fuse box underneath a regular fuse and is difficult to detect.  On rare occasions we have went direct to the battery.

Since most of our installations last a month or more we prefer the hardwire so we don't have to keep getting the vehicle back to change battery packs.  We have some installations that go on for a couple of years.

One of the problems with the battery packs is their life span (the D packs if queried every 15 minutes 24/7 will last anywhere from 12 to 14 days depending the how hot the area where they are placed gets (down here in Texas the Summer heat reduces their time by about one day); the 2/3 AA lithiums run about the same length of time, but we only trust them for 10 to 12 days.  The lithium packs are small about 2-1/2" wide by 5" long and 1/2" thick and are light weight, but they are very expensive -- the D packs are bulky and heavy.

I use a commercial radio shop that does fleet radio systems to make my installs because they understand RF technology and are good at disassembling and reassembling interiors of vehicles.  I do not recommend that anyone use a car stereo shop or a mobile phone shop.

I hope that this is of help to true professional TSCMer's, again, Steve and James are correct, leave this to true professional TSCMer's they know what to look for and have the correct equipment.



Greg H. Walker, ARM*
Attorney At Law
RisKontroL -- Risk Management, Security Consulting & Investigations
Houston, Texas
(713) 850-0061

* Associate in Risk Management Designation (Insurance Institute of America's Center For Advanced Risk Management Education)

WARNING NOTICE BY GHW:  Greg H. Walker's comments are not intended to be and should absolutely not be taken as legal advice.  Unless you have entered into a specific written agreement with him for legal services, signed by both you and him, and paid him a retainer in good funds, then he is not your Attorney, does not intend to be your Attorney and you should not act nor refrain from acting based, in whole or in part, on his comments.


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