How do Private Investigators conduct Surveillance?
Most of us, when thinking about the work of a Private Investigator, might have the idea of a shady guy in a trench coat following an even more suspicious individual, eavesdropping a crucial conversation or taking compromising pictures of a deal or an affair, much like in film noir portrayals. Or perhaps you think of a person with incredible intelligence and deduction skills that can crack a case with the least expected piece of evidence, in the style of Sherlock Holmes.
Even though these images are well inspired in detective work, it may not be exactly what they do or how they look. In this article, we will discuss about how are Private Surveillance and Investigation really conducted.
Who hires Private Investigators and Why?
Private Investigators are hired by both corporations and individuals seeking the gathering of information, which can be used later on for different purposes. A corporation might seek surveillance investigation services to find out abuse schemes within the business, to act as counterintelligence against other companies or to help clarify controversies involving customers.
On the other hand, most individuals seek a private detective to conduct surveillance work to sustain or debunk legal cases (such as an insurance claim), discover infidelities in a marriage and even help solve cold cases. While the latter means that private detectives can help solve crimes-scene investigations, knowing that a significant portion of investigators are retired police officers who are now self employed.
This doesn’t mean they work for the police or any governmental agency; on the other hand, private investigators will abide by the law in almost every scenario, avoiding the use of unlawful, risky or violent practices to carry out their tasks.
What are the different types of Surveillance Investigation?
Each case has different needs to attend, and the average surveillance detective will use a wide array of tools and techniques to achieve results, but surveillance practices can be distinguished as follows:
Physical Surveillance: This is the most widely known type of surveillance tactic that detectives use . It entails viewing and, in most cases, following the surveillance target. It is mostly conducted as covert– the surveillance detective might be observing from a certain distance or using a disguise to be able to approach the subject without being detected or looking suspicious. This practice is common in spousal investigations. Physical Surveillance does not limit to a single investigator in the scene– there might be teams involved, with both stationary and mobile assets.
Technical Surveillance: Also known as A/V surveillance; it is commonly used in every type of surveillance investigation, with the purpose of gathering evidence that can be played back and reviewed later. This involves the infiltration of recording devices such as movement sensors, cameras, microphones, voice and video recorders.
Digital Surveillance: Similar to the objectives of the aforementioned types, digital surveillance consists on following a subject’s behavior online. This may be done in a non-intrusive way (by inadvertently checking or following the target in social media, doing online searches) or by taking a more intrusive approach (checking the web history of the subject, logging in the subject’s social media if possible to search for evidence, checking their digital trash, etc).
It is important to bear in mind that Private Investigators are professional data gatherers, and as such the communication with their clients is key: it’s best as a client to be as descriptive as possible in the first interviews and try not to leave everything to the investigator’s guesswork, since knowing when and what to look for can make or break the results of an investigation.