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How do private investigators do surveillance?

Gathering information sits at the heart of what a private investigator does, and conducting surveillance is an essential part of this process. Surveillance is used in a wide range of private investigation cases, from investigating marital infidelity to insurance fraud. The quality of surveillance carried out is critical to the success of the investigation which is why it is always best to choose a private security firm in Phoenix, AZ with the private investigators with the best expertise in surveillance.

Surveillance entails the continuous close observation of a person or place of interest to gain information that is used to solve or build a case. A private investigator may, for example, follow a person under suspicion of a fraudulent worker’s compensation claim to verify injury or illness or keep a watch on and record the activities of the spouse of a client suspected of cheating.

The approach to surveillance is pretty straightforward: look, listen, track but there is no denying that advanced technological surveillance systems and equipment like spy cameras and micro-bugs can play a considerable part in the success of practically every surveillance operation undertaken.

While straightforward in principle, carrying out surveillance requires skill, patience, experience and dedication. There are different types of surveillance operations and various techniques that can be used to achieve the objective of the investigation.

4 Different approaches to surveillance

There are different types of surveillance suited to different private investigation cases.  Surveillance can be active as in following someone physically or in passive form as when a private investigator evaluates documents or reports.

1.     Physical observation surveillance

It is the most basic approach to a surveillance operation and involves a private investigator(s) following a subject to observe their activities or staking out a place to record comings and goings.

2.     Electronic or digital surveillance

Electronic monitoring is a relatively new approach to surveillance made possible due to advancements in digital technology and electronic equipment. A private investigator skilled in the knowledge and use of digital media is able to monitor a person of interest’s online activity to find the evidence they need for the case.

3.     Interview surveillance

This approach to surveillance is often used for cases involving locating missing persons, Talking to or ‘interviewing’ people such as neighbors, co-workers or family members can reveal insightful information to help solve the case.

4.     Technical or audio/visual surveillance

A private investigator makes use of visual and audio recording tools such as cameras, microphones and smartphones to record and document evidence.


Expert surveillance techniques used by private investigators

In addition to the different approaches to surveillance, private investigators also have a variety of techniques at their disposal to enjoy the highest rewards of their surveillance mission. To effectively conduct surveillance, a PI can:

1. Get the set-up right

Important to physical surveillance operations, it is important that a private investigator gets the set-up right – the PI’s positioning and proximity, how well he/she is able to blend in and the best exit route. Checking the scene beforehand can help with planning the details of the set-up.

2. Acknowledge the value of passive surveillance

It may not be as glamorous as super-sleuthing but there can be immense value in studying records and documents.

3. Avoid questionable behavior

Any suspicious behavior or activity on the part of the PI will only draw attention to himself and may compromise the entire surveillance operation. It is of the utmost importance that a PI blends in to remain undetected.

4. Make your explanation plausible

A private investigator needs to have a story prepared in the event he is questioned about his presence at a place. It is best to prepare this story beforehand and to think through the explanation for why you are where you are.

Why choose Cutty & Associates

Whether you need evidence to confirm a suspicion or to assist in a case in a court of law, hiring a private investigations firm to carry out a surveillance operation will get the job done. Cutty & Associates is a well-established full-service licensed private investigations firm with expert private investigators experienced in Background checks, tracing missing persons, investigating insurance fraud and investigations involving child custody and infidelity. We are committed to producing results and delivering outstanding customer service for our corporate and individual clients.