Surveillance is defined as the close observation of a person, place, or object. It is the practice of watching someone in order to document his or her interactions or whereabouts. Those in the profession of surveillance investigation are often hired to obtain information on others for a variety of reasons including divorce, workman’s compensation, and fraud.
Once hired, a private investigator with use several methods in order to obtain the requested information. Most are not as glamorous as they appear in TV or movies as there usually are not any high-speed chases or heroic confrontations. Additionally, they usually do not hide in the bushes, either. Instead, they use a number of proven approaches that generally do not put their lives in danger.
There are four main types of surveillance that PIs use. They are electronic, physical observation, interviews, and the use of technology. Electronic Surveillance is the type of documentation referred to when devices like television, wiretapping, and radios are used to document activity. It also includes monitoring an individual’s use of their phones, email, and social media. Physical Observation may include the use of disguises, stakeouts, and multiple investigators so that the subject can be followed with him or her knowing someone is doing so.
Surveillance investigators may also conduct interviews and use technical surveillance, as well. Interviews are done in order to find out as much information as possible about the subject. The people interviewed generally include family members, neighbors, friends, or coworkers. Technical Surveillance is a term that includes the use of digital photography as well as both video and audio recordings. This can include cameras used by businesses and dash cameras, as well.
A PI will also have to decide the methods he or she will use to conduct their surveillance. This includes both covert and overt, as well as whether to go mobile or stationary and whether to use a person or technology. The difference between covert and overt is that covert is undetected and overt is known. An example of overt surveillance is the use of security cameras at businesses to deter theft. An example of covert surveillance is a nanny cam you put in your home so you can watch the babysitter without him or her knowing you are doing so.
Mobile means that the surveillance goes with the person wherever they are, while stationary only has them watched in one place. If a PI uses a person to do the surveillance than either the PI or one of his or her associates will go out and physically watch the subject. However, video cameras, voice recorders, and other similar equipment can also be used in place of or to enhance such operations.
It is important that the person you choose be both licensed and insured. This gives you the assurance that they are trained in current laws so that you do not have to worry about legal impediments. They also have the experience to know the particulars of surveillance, how an investigation is conducted and information collected. This allows their findings to stand up in court.