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Private Investigation: The Art of Human Surveillance

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The art of surveillance in private investigation is rapidly becoming challenging for many private investigators across Ontario and North America. The reason for this is partly in thanks to the development of surveillance based technologies over the past few years.

It is now possible for most businesses, both small and large to install cheap and discreet video surveillance systems. Any homeowner can go onto Amazon and purchase affordable video surveillance tools that can fit inside their doorbell. Even Apps installed on cellphones, computers or tablets allow people to keep track of a person’s movements and location.

Why is this Bad?

As a result, members of the general public believe that they have the skills needed to resolve any problems that come up. For example, let’s say that a homeowner installs a doorbell camera because someone keeps stealing his or her deliveries. When they review the video footage, he or she sees a man with a ball cap taking one of their packages. Since the homeowner isn’t properly trained, they immediately believe that the man in the video is their neighbor.

The homeowner then approaches their neighbor with the video footage and accuses him or her of theft. Often, the homeowner will also post the video online and publically shame their neighbor.

As you can imagine, this story ends in disaster. The neighbor can sue the homeowner for defamation. The homeowner still doesn’t know who’s stealing their packages. Let’s not forget about the police or private investigator that then needs to get involved. He or she must try to piece together what really happened, while the real thief has had the chance to disappear.

Private Investigation & Human Surveillance

This is why it takes a special private investigator to navigate the world of surveillance. He or she must have important skills that make them an asset in the field. Private investigators have to compete against technology and therefore need to truly show their value by getting the job done right.

The one type of surveillance technology can’t to well is known as human surveillance. So, what exactly is human surveillance?

Human Surveillance

The private investigation technique know as, human surveillance simply means that a private investigator tails, or monitors an individual in person. It is a technique that is difficult to master, as it is so important that the individual the private investigator monitors does not catch on at any point during the investigation.

The reason why it’s so important that the individual does not realize that a private investigator is watching is because he or she will change their behavior. The same logic applies to the general public. Many people behave very differently when they believe or know they are being watched. If a private investigator needs to collect unbiased information, this will ruin the case.

Human Surveillance Techniques

When it comes to human surveillance, there are really two ways in which a private investigator will approach the case.

1. Fixed Surveillance

The first way is known in the private investigation world as fixed surveillance. This method of human surveillance requires the private investigator to observe an individual from a discreet distance. For example, a private investigator might park their car down the street from the individual’s house to watch and see whether or not they leave or even who might enter the residence. Another example of fixed surveillance includes something like a hotel lobby. A private investigator will sit in the lobby and wait for the individual to appear.

In many fixed surveillance cases, it’s normal for a private investigator to work with a second private investigator. The two private investigators can take turns monitoring the individual. This helps to give at least one of the private investigators a break. It also helps to escape notice. If one person continues to sit in a parked car outside an individual’s house for more than a week, the individual is more likely to notice and suspect that someone is watching.

2. ABC Surveillance

This second type of human surveillance involves three private investigators working as a team (private investigator A, B, and C). It requires private investigator A to tail the individual from behind. Private investigator B will then follow nearby and private investigator C will remain across the street at a discreet distance.

This type of human surveillance requires a lot of communication between the three private investigators. In addition, the communication required is subtle. Private investigator A can’t openly talk to private investigator B or C because the individual they’re tailing might catch on.

Private Investigators and Illegal Surveillance

It’s such a shame that in North America, and even in Europe, so many private investigators run illegal surveillance investigations. If a private investigator offers to bug someone’s phone on your behalf and without their knowledge, this is illegal. If a private investigator breaks into a home to conduct surveillance, this is also illegal.

The main reason a private investigator will conduct human surveillance is to gather evidence for the court system. As that is it the case, it is in the private investigator’s best interest to abide by the law—not to make a quick buck. Lawyers will often hire private investigators to help support their case. A lawyer will not want to work with a private investigator that isn’t willing to work within the law. It isn’t worth their time or money.

The tricky part to knowing whether or not you’re working with a good private investigator is that not all laws and regulations are the same in every state, province or even city. Therefore, it is so important that you pick a private investigation company with good references and highly trained private investigators. The last thing you want to have happen is to get into trouble with the law! If a private investigator gets caught doing illegal human surveillance on your behalf, you’ll find yourself in some pretty hot water.

At the end of the day, a good private investigator will know all the best techniques when it comes to surveillance. Sure, you could rely on the latest technology to try and resolve the situation yourself, but why take the risk? Hiring a private investigator to handle the tough human surveillance cases ensures that you can focus on what matters.

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