5 Expert Surveillance Tips for Private Investigators

As a private investigator, you’ll know some of the most common jobs you get involve surveillance. When most people imagine surveillance, their minds instantly think about spy movies or detective shows. 

While they aren’t too far off, surveillance actually involves a much wider array of activities, such as digital or technical surveillance and interviewing. In this post, we’ll look at what a surveillance job means for private investigators and what surveillance techniques they should employ.

What Does Surveillance Mean for a Private Investigator?

For a private investigator, surveillance is an investigation process that involves closely observing an individual, group of people, place, or object to collect information. Typically, corporations or insurance firms take advantage of surveillance to observe a person or a location to gather information and determine if anything shady is going on.

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Being a private investigator, you need to act lawfully and ethically regarding surveillance. You’re not allowed to enter, spy, or record footage in remote areas, hack into personal accounts, or secretly bug phones. Understanding the legal limits of being a private investigator is necessary to ensure you avoid legal trouble in the future.

Expert Tips for a Successful Surveillance Job

Expert Tips for a Successful Surveillance Job

Gather Detailed Information

Begin by gathering as much information as possible from your client when they employ you for the task. While it’s a pretty obvious first step, many clients merely give basic info like the subject’s name, address, and age.

Though this information is helpful, it’s not even close to what you’ll need, especially if it’s a more complex job. Create a detailed intake portfolio consisting of useful information regarding the client, like 

  • marital status
  • daily routine
  • doctor appointments
  • medical info
  • family members
  • hobbies

Keep Your Distance

A huge mistake that’s common among new private investigators is that they get much closer to the subject than they need to. Inspired by spy movie-esque scenes, they’ll park their vehicle opposite the subject’s home, which an average homeowner can detect as suspicious activity.

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If the subject sees an unfamiliar vehicle with a strange person inside, they’ll immediately assume the worst and draw attention towards you. It’s suggested that you stay at least three to five houses away from the subject, so you don’t raise suspicion.

Plan Your Responses

When you’re on the field, doing surveillance, it’s not uncommon for the situation to drastically change. In such an instance where unpredictable events happen, it’s easy to make mistakes. As a private investigator, you need to anticipate and plan for your next move before it even occurs.

By anticipating each move and accounting for changes in the situation, you’ll be able to carry out more effective and better surveillance decisions.

Don’t Stand Out

Private investigators need to act calm and not convey intense emotions in public where people could suspect them of being weird or creepy. Be sure to wear clothes that fit in with the area’s general population. If you’re on wheels, drive a discreet and easily forgettable car.

The medical information provided in this article is provided as an information resource only. This information does not create any patient-physician relationship and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.

When in public, avoid actions that might seem obviously questionable, like sitting alone in a children’s playground or staring at people who walk by in a park. Always be focused and aware of your surroundings to avoid awkward situations.

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Invest in a Good Camera

With surveillance jobs, you often have to capture pictures or record videos of the subject in various situations, like the people they encounter or an illegal substance they might be using. This is why you always need a camera that can instantly capture clear, high-quality matter whenever you need it.

It doesn’t matter how good your surveillance tactics are; if you can’t take perfectly clear images of evidence, you won’t be successful. So, ensure you have good, durable equipment.

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