Wearing a wire - still used in law enforcement?

I’ve often heard this phrase, and I’ve seen my share of Sopranos episodes.

But, with today’s technology, do they still have to use a physical wire to record conversations? Or is this just an old piece of technology that plays better in front of the camera?

When I think of Tony Soprano and crew feeling/patting people down to look for a “wire”, it just doesn’t seem to make sense given today’s high-tech gadgetry.

Anyone know the Straight Dope? What does the FBI use these days?

I can’t imagine anyone using a real wire today. A wireless transmitter is about the size of a penny. You see occasional video on those “real cop” type tv shows where the footage was shot from some guy’s baseball cap cam or some gal’s purse cam. If the guy takes off his hat and sets it on the table and it still manages to record the entire proceedings, you can be darn sure the guy didn’t have a wire running down to his undershorts.

I think it’s more likely that you’d have a bunch of FBI guys later pouring over a table of pocket change going “which one of these quarters is our bug?”

Of course, old habits die hard. I can picture some mob thug patting down some guy looking for a wire, not realizing that the guy’s shirt button is broadcasting everything he says out to a van half a mile down the street.

I don’t know what the FBI actually uses, but they certainly have better stuff available than old fashioned wires. Heck, here’s a web site that will sell you sunglasses that have a hidden camera built into them:
If you and I can buy this stuff, imagine what the FBI has?

I’m not sure about wires for recording and transmitting but there are wireless inductive bone mics that require a loop to be worn around the neck. If your undercover officer or confidential informant needs to discretly recieve instructions, inductive loop kits are the best way to go. The mic/earpiece fits in the ear and is easily covered by hats or hair. The wire and radio would be easily discovered during a patdown by henchmen.

Those glasses take 8 AA batteries. I assure you there’s a wire involved. Most of that other stuff looked like it had a wire running somewhere, if only for power.

If you know where the meeting is, supposedly the CIA has a laser “gun” that can read the vibrations of the windows as analogs of the sound waves in the room.