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Eavesdrop Like a Pro

November 30, 1998|BOOTH MOORE

If you think the techno-spying in the latest thriller "Enemy of the State" is scary, here it is right in West Hollywood.

The Spy Tech Agency has been selling snooping aids since 1974, including custom-designed earrings containing recorders, bustiers with video cameras hidden inside and more, at prices that can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

"We build stuff into cell phones, pagers, wall plates--you name it," store owner John Dresden said.

Although California state law bans unauthorized third-party wiretaps, that doesn't prevent people from purchasing such devices and using them surreptitiously.

"But we don't want to be a party to selling equipment to people who will use it illegally," Dresden said. And some items, like wireless recorders, for example, can be sold only to law enforcement officials.

Spy Tech claims it is the buyer's responsibility to obey laws that govern possession of items sold, but common sense also prevails.

"One time we had some guys come in who wanted to buy bulletproof vests," Dresden said. "We suspected they were gang members, so we didn't deal with them."

Spy Tech is owned and operated by Probe Inc., a licensed private investigation agency. Spy Tech sets up sting operations for law enforcement officials, provides executive and celebrity protection services and operates a private investigator training academy.

More than 2,100 items are for sale in Spy Tech's online catalog, from lock picks ($89.95) to concealed body armor ($529 to $759) at http://www.spytechagency.com. There are also spy news bites, and links to other spy-related sites such as the CIA and the FBI.

Or visit Spy Tech at 8521 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 657-6333. But buyer beware, someone could be spying on you too.

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