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How to be an amateur spy

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

Become an amateur spy with these simple tips

Become an amateur spy with these simple tips

Sometimes it can be fun to try to take a few steps in the shoes of 007, or pretend to be on an impossible mission utilizing a host of gadgets. But being an amateur spy is not necessarily all about fun; there could be times when a few spy skills actually come in handy! Here is a simple guide on how to be an amateur spy.

Clothes Make the Spy

Arguably an overlooked area of being a good amateur spy is the clothing that is chosen. You might want to wear your favorite sports team shirt or a garish jacket in bright colors – but a real spy would shake their head at you. A spy has to blend seamlessly into their surroundings, by wearing inconspicuous clothing in dull or neutral colors. If you’re on a stakeout you need to consider potential temperature changes when deciding what to wear. Obviously black clothes and coats at night are a wise choice for the amateur spy, but keep it simple. Running around swathed in black and wearing a black ski mask is likely to get you arrested!

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Choose your spy accessories carefully, with a thoughtful nod to function. Hats should be utilized, especially if you have long or brightly colored hair. Of course, a cool pair of sunglasses is de rigueur for an amateur spy – but subtlety is key here! Naturally, if you’re going to wear sunglasses, then consider a pair that has a small reflective surface on the inside edge of the lens – now you can see if anybody is following you!

Spy Fact

The CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) was formed in 1947 after President Harry S. Truman signed the National Security Act.


Learn Your Craft

So now it’s time for the gadgets right? Not so fast! If you want to be the best amateur spy you can be, you need to learn about your craft. A big part of how to be an amateur spy is reading about real spies and how they plied their trade. One notorious book about spying is Spycatcher: The Candid Autobiography of a Senior Intelligence Officer, written by Peter Wright. Wright was a high-ranking official in one of the British spy services, MI5. The book was so controversial, the British government tried to ban it!

Another cloak-and-dagger tome to consider is The Man Who Kept the Secrets: Richard Helms and the CIA (by Thomas Powers). Helms was the Director of Central Intelligence from 1966 to 1973, a time when the Cold War made spies invaluable. There are dozens of how-to guidebooks for potential private investigators, and for those who want to be an amateur spy solely for fun – well you can always read through the fantastic Spy vs Spy books, featuring the famed Mad magazine characters!

Super Spy Fact

The creator of James Bond, Ian Fleming, was a bit of a spy himself! The British writer had been a naval intelligence officer during the Second World War and was involved in the formation of numerous crucial operations.

Gadgets, Glorious Gadgets!

If there is one thing that springs to mind when you think of being a spy, it’s gadgets. No decent amateur spy would dare enter the spy game without an array of useful gadgets to hand. Naturally, a camera is a must-have gadget, but it needs to be easy to conceal and not provoke suspicion. An amateur spy could wear a tie that has a hidden camera in it, or a watch. Cameras can also be hidden in car keys or even pens.

What else should an aspiring amateur spy consider purchasing before setting out on a mission? Power cards for charging your gadgets should be essential, and don’t forget a mini-torch and multi-tool. If you plan to have human support on your spying operation then walkie-talkies and secret service ear buds should be packed. You can even buy cufflinks that contain a flash drive and wireless receiver – in other words – a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot! Perfect for sending and receiving all those secret documents an amateur spy has to deal with.

Finally, what about hiding those secret documents and flash drives if your spy identity is compromised? Well, you could get a snow globe with a secret hidden compartment, or a fake soda can safe or even a hollowed-out book. For those tiny items, such as the microfilms that movie spies always seem to have on them, you can actually buy a hollow spy coin! Separate the coin with a special ring, insert your secret item, and close the coin so it looks perfectly normal. Just remember not to use it at a vending machine!


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