Gather as much information as possible from your client before you start- make two columns with headings “Known” and “Possible”. Under “Known” put home, work, and other addresses that the target is known to frequent. Under “Possible”, list addresses the client believes the target may be visiting. As you identify “Possible” addresses where the target is, move them to the “Known” column. In the event you lose the target during mobile surveillance you have a list of locations to check
Research known locations - google maps is a great place to start for learning the areas around known addresses and possible addresses. Study alternate routes where you can view the locations. Use the “Street View” feature on google maps to gather more information such as the location of foliage, empty parking lots, areas that you may be able to conceal yourself.
Recon the areas before you start - visit known areas at times you know the target will not be present. This will provide you the opportunity to learn the area. For example; if you are in a nice, shiny new car and the area you are trying conduct surveillance is not known to have new cars, you may stick out and attract unwanted attention. Consider mini-vans, compact cars, over the well polished, dark tinted window Dodge Charger.
Right before you start - prepare by filling the gas tank in your car, have some snacks, bottled water, and some changes of clothes in the event your location changes. Make sure your camera and/or tablet batteries are fully charged and you have a working phone charger.
Develop a few cover stories - There’s a good chance you will be caught at some time during the surveillance. A wary neighbor or business owner may approach you or call the police. Have a dog? Consider walking your dog if there are sidewalks and dog walking is normal. Prepare for being caught by the target.
On scene - if you are going to be sitting in a vehicle for awhile, consider sitting in the passengers seat as if you are waiting for someone. Parked at an open business? Give the employee’s a heads-up, use a cover story. Maybe your car is broken down, or you’re waiting for an out-of-town friend that may be lost. This will keep the employee’s at ease and reduce your chances of being reported to the police making you stick out even more.
Make detailed notes, document evidence - documenting evidence is your priority. Consider making photo’s of the location when you arrive (time stamp photo’s with your camera), makes photo’s of their arrival or departure, and make photo’s periodically while sitting on the location, again the time stamp feature is helpful in showing the location of vehicles, etc. Look to Google again using their location feature to track your movements. You still need to document your travels so have a printed map available that you can quickly highlight your target’s movements. Makes it easier to record their travels. Personal recorder is a good idea as well.
Communications - you should communicate with another person whether they are actively participating in the surveillance with you or maybe it’s your significant other at home. Use a recording option on your smartphone to note your movements and what you are observing. Several recording apps will document the time for you as well. Now you have two records!! The time and duration of your phone call, take a screenshot and the recording itself.
Develop a “failure plan” - Be prepared for losing your target, or if you notice your target is suspicious of your presence. If you researched the areas you are traveling in, take alternate routes to try and search for your target. Cease surveillance if your target is watching you through the rear view mirror a little too much. Look for them to look to the rear view, then side view mirrors frequently, making three right turns or doubling back on you.
Be safe!!!! - if you are operating a motor vehicle it is safer to obey the laws and not risk injuring another person. Be alert to your surroundings at all times! Others, involved with your target or not, may be watching you. Make sure someone knows where you are at all times.