The ability of police to spy on WA bikies has been dealt an embarrassing blow after members of the Rebels discovered a network of miniature cameras and microphones hidden in their Rockingham clubhouse.
Rebels State president Nick Martin confirmed yesterday that several tiny devices had been discovered in the walls and ceilings of the Hurrell Way property last Wednesday and sweeps were now being conducted on other club facilities looking for more devices.
WA Police would not confirm yesterday if the bugs belonged to them, but Mr Martin said that within hours of his members finding them, the clubhouse was raided by gang crime officers who took the equipment away.
"We were wondering who owned it and we were all waiting for something to happen and, sure enough, we got raided the very next day," he said.
"Their warrant said it was under the Misuse of Drugs Act, but all they took away was the cameras and stuff."
The Rebels are WA's biggest bikie gang and have been the target of a national operation that has resulted in more than 700 members and associates being charged in the past two years.
Sources have told _The West Australian _ that the discovery was likely to be a major setback for investigators in their continuing efforts to disrupt the gang's activities.
Gang members were now likely to become more security conscious and cautious about talking on phones or inside buildings because of the fear that they were being watched.
Mr Martin said his members had come across bugs before, including inside their homes, but he had not seen anything matching the sophistication of the equipment discovered last week, including tiny optic-fibre cameras about the size of a pin head
The discovery was made by chance when a gang member digging a trench outside the clubhouse found an unusual electrical cable that appeared to be running towards the building.
The cable was followed to an outside air-conditioning unit and into the walls and ceilings where the cameras and microphones were found.
Mr Martin said the equipment was barely visible.
"We have always thought that they (police) are watching us, but there is a big difference between thinking and knowing," he said.
"Now we actually know. It just goes to show there is no such thing as privacy in this country.
"Who is to say they are not watching me even when I'm at home in the bedroom?"