While most of the world spends their life trying to be noticed, private investigators need to navigate the world incognito to succeed.
You can’t stand out in the crowd and still perform effective surveillance on a subject. To do this job, you need to be able to hide in plain sight while discreetly collecting the necessary information.
Check out these tips to raise your surveilling game.
Be Prepared and Do Your Homework
When conducting surveillance, you’ll find it much easier if you know your subject.
You can learn a lot about your subject with a little online effort before heading out to do field work.
A background check will uncover details about their finances, habits, and frequent associates. Additionally, social media profiles can be one of the best private investigators research resources for these details and more.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn can all give you valuable tips. It’s important to focus on the things that may seem inconsequential to others.
The reflection in mirrored sunglasses or windows from selfies on Facebook or Instagram could give you a location or area to find an individual you’re trying to locate.
Many social media sites let people check in to locations when visiting and many people can be found through this feature.
Checking their friends’ social media pages or reading their blog could provide other valuable facts about them. You can gain huge insight into a subject through online investigations if you know where and what to look at.
Private Investigators Surveillance Kit
You could be following someone or sitting in your car waiting for them to make an appearance for hours. You don’t want to be distracted because you don’t have the things you need or you’re dreaming about sinking your teeth into a cheeseburger. Preparation is key, and this kit details the essentials you need.
Water and Snacks
When you put in long hours, you need fuel to keep your body and mind alert. You don’t want to doze off while waiting all night for a subject to emerge from a building.
Fruit, bite-size snacks, and sandwiches are good to have on hand. Make sure you have lots of water and liquids to keep you hydrated while waiting. This is especially true in hot weather if sitting in the car for hours.
Water is also good to have aside from drinking it. Whether it’s a car overheating, needing to clean your hands or washing off your camera lens it’s a good idea to have a bottle of water for any situation that arises.
Cameras, Phones, Chargers, and Batteries
You’ll want to have some way of taking the photographs. It’ll depend on what situation you’re in whether you’ll want the detail and zoom offered by a digital camera or the inconspicuous use of a camera phone.
Either way, make sure you have an extra battery and memory card, so you have lots of backup power and space for anything you need to document.
Many devices have an adapter that lets you charge it through your car. Do this while you’re driving or for short periods of time so that you don’t inadvertently drain the battery of the car.
A dead battery makes for a difficult and unsuccessful surveillance effort.
If you have laptops, tablets, drone surveillance equipment and other resources, make sure to keep extra batteries, cords and other attachments on hand.
We’re not saying you must don a fake mustache or Clark Kent glasses, but you’re going to need outfits that help you stay anonymous and if you’re following someone for a few days, you can’t afford to draw attention to yourself the same look.
Eventually, they’ll notice the same outfit, even if they don’t recognize the face. Baseball hats, different glasses, scarves, jackets and other things can help you blend in without looking like you’re heading to a Halloween party.
There are great wigs, hairpieces and other accessories that look very natural. Hair extensions or just changing the style can help as well.
First Aid and Car Emergency Kits
This may seem like a no-brainer, but many people don’t have a first aid or emergency kit in their cars. These are particularly helpful when surveilling, because they’re full of several helpful items when you need to improvise.
Scissors, tape, bandages and other things in your first aid kit may come in handy. A flashlight. is always important if you are out overnight or possibly needing to explore dark spaces for information. They are also helpful in focusing your viewpoint while searching for clues.
Need an icebreaker to start a dialogue with a subject your investigating? It always helps to have something to offer. A dead battery has started many a conversation when you have jumper cables to request a boost.
Having an umbrella in the rain enables you to offer help when they’re carrying things to the front door. It’s always good to be prepared.
They can also provide peace of mind that you’re prepared for the long haul, if you’re setting up a long-term surveillance.
Keep a gas can in your trunk in case you cannot leave to refill your tank without potentially losing your subject.
Consider portable bathroom options and sanitation like bath wipes, and hand sanitizer and create an ultimate survival kit geared to your needs.
Blend In and Travel in Pairs
Avoid wearing anything extravagant unless you’re following your subject to an annual ball or event that requires specific attire. You want to blend in with the crowd and not draw attention to yourself by driving a flashy car, wearing inappropriate clothes for the venue, or seeming like a weird loner staring at them from afar.
It’s often easier to blend in if you’re not working alone. Two people sitting talking in a car is much less conspicuous than a dude with a camera watching a building for hours.
It also helps to have two vehicles when you need to tailyour subject through town. Both vehicles should blend in to reduce the risk of you and your partner being noticed.
Attitude is Everything
Read the environment and adjust your attitude accordingly. And, if you’re sitting in your car for hours it doesn’t have to be excruciating. If you’re prepared and have the right attitude you can make the most of your time.
Private investigators spend a lot of time sitting, watching and waiting, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Listen to music, podcasts, and audiobooks to keep your brain entertained while your eyes watch for your subject. Bring snacks you enjoy and all the tools you need, and you can turn a simple surveillance into a successful endeavor.
For tips on how to expand your private investigator business check out the rest of our blog.