Mobile surveillance techniques vary among private investigators depending on their resources, the subject of their surveillance and the investigator’s personal preferences. Although the specifics may vary there are five common practices used by successful private investigators.
1. Gather advance intelligence information about the subject and subject vehicle - License plate, addresses for home and work, photo’s of distinguishing features of the subject vehicle, maps of subject’s neighborhood and workplace, scouting areas in advance where the subject is likely to visit are all critical advance intelligence that you need before beginning the surveillance. Use an online map program to “drive” the areas where you are most likely to encounter the subject.
2. Stock your vehicle with all the necessary supplies before starting the mobile surveillance - back-up camera batteries, cell phone charger, voice recorder, snacks and other essential items. There is nothing worse than realizing you left an important piece of equipment at the office when you are out on a mobile surveillance. Again, back-up batteries and chargers for all your electronic devices you may need.
3. Maintain visual contact with the subject at all times - easier said than done, but maintaining constant visual contact by staying in close proximity to the subject ensures you do not lose them in traffic. In heavy traffic conditions close the distance. In light traffic conditions increase your distance from the subject.
4. Take detailed notes during the surveillance - use a voice recorder, preferably one that timestamps your recording, to make verbal notes throughout the surveillance so you can retrace or identify the location of critical camera video.
5. Drive safely and obey the traffic laws - Whenever you are conducting mobile surveillance remember your duty to protect others. Obey traffic laws, drive defensively, and be aware of your surroundings. Speeding, making erratic maneuvers, or disobeying traffic signals could cause an accident ending your surveillance.
As a private investigator it is important to have business cards. How else will people know how to contact you or find your web page?
Our friends at Quick & Dirty Tips have just the podcast for you if you are trying to decide what should be on your business card. Listen to the podcast below or visit the site for the transcript.
Ever think you have completed an investigation only to find there was one more interview to complete, another document that you need to collect, or a piece of evidence you forgot to look for? Ever had a difficult time explaining the linkages among interviews and evidence to a client?
How do you ensure you are completing all the tasks associated with your investigation? Creating a task list is one way, but sometimes it might lack the ability for you to visualize important information you need to seek out.
Using a mind-map is another technique that might be useful to you in completing an investigation. A mind-map is simple hand drawn chart, like one in the graphic, allows you to visualize your investigation, look for links and create checklists.
Take a few minutes to scratch out a simple mind map to see how useful it can be on a current or upcoming investigation. There are free programs online you can use to create and print a mind map as well.
Every Private Investigator should have a jump bag in their vehicle.
Taking the time to set-up a small, inexpensive bag with essential items and placing one in your car, office and home is a great preparation idea that is inexpensive and will help you in emergency situations. Use any bag that can hold essential items you might need in an emergency situation. You never know when a case might take a different direction.
So what do you include in your bag?
Having a small bag in your car with these essential items will prepare you for any loss of essential equipment, a sudden schedule change during surveillance or if you have to make a quick overnight trip unexpectedly.
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