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Surveillance: Techniques for Private Investigators

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Surveillance: Techniques for Private Investigators

Canadian Private investigators often rely on surveillance to gather information and evidence for their clients. But effective surveillance (surv) requires more than just keeping an eye on someone. Private investigators use a variety of techniques to gather the information that their clients need, such as conducting background checks, using surveillance cameras, conducting surveillance in person, using GPS tracking (when legal), and more. 

Each technique has its own advantages and drawbacks and is used in different situations. In this blog post, we will explore some of the key surveillance techniques that private investigators use to obtain valuable information for their clients across Canada. We will look at each technique and how it works and discuss the pros and cons of each. 

We will discuss some of the legal considerations that must be taken into account when conducting surveillance in Canada and how private investigators are trained to adhere to laws and regulations. 

By the end of this post, you should have a better understanding of the different surv techniques investigators use in Toronto and Vancouver and the laws that govern them.

Understanding Surveillance: The Basics

It is essential for private investigators to have a thorough understanding of the basic principles of surv before they begin any surveillance operation. This includes knowing the different types of surveillance that can be used, such as physical, electronic, and visual surveillance, as well as understanding the legal implications of conducting physical surveillance. 

It is important to be aware of the different equipment that is available for surveillance, such as surveillance devices like cameras, recorders, and tracking devices for mobile surveillance. Knowledge of the surv environment, such as the location, people to be monitored, and potential threats, is also essential for private investigators to be successful in their operations. Lastly, surveillance should be conducted in a discreet and professional manner that adheres to the law and respects the privacy of those being monitored.

The definition of surveillance and its importance in private investigations:

According to the Meridian dictionary, Surveillance close watch kept over someone or something (as by a detective).

Surveillance is a tool used to collect information on a person or object. It is frequently employed by private investigators in Canada who seek to gain knowledge on the activities and behavior of their subject or target. Surveillance can be used to observe the subject’s movements, interactions with other people, and general behavior and to determine if there is any illegal or inappropriate activity taking place. 

It can also be used to gain access to certain places or items that are not easily accessible. Surveillance is often conducted by following the subject, using video cameras, or by placing tracking devices on the subject or their property. Surveillance can be employed to investigate the activities of a person or group or to gain intelligence on potential threats.

It can also be used to monitor a person’s residence or workplace and can be conducted in a variety of ways, including through the use of cameras, GPS tracking, and other technological tools. Surveillance can help private investigators obtain evidence for use in criminal or civil proceedings, or it can be used to monitor a person for safety or security reasons. 

Different types of surveillance 

Physical Surveillance

Physical monitoring is the practice of following a person or vehicle in order to observe their activities. It is the most common type of investigation a private investigator will undertake and is used to gather evidence of insurance fraud against an employer or insurance company, as well with family investigations such as infidelity or child custody. 

Private investigators may use a variety of methods to conduct physical surveillance, such as following their subject on foot or in a vehicle, observing the person from a safe distance, and using cameras or other recording devices to capture evidence. Physical Surveillance is usually conducted in a discreet manner, and investigators must ensure that their activities are legal and ethical.

Electronic Surveillance 

Electronic Surveillance is a type of surveillance that involves the use of electronic devices such as cameras, microphones, listening devices, GPS tracking, and other digital monitoring equipment to observe a person or place. Electronic surveillance is often used by law enforcement agencies to investigate and monitor criminal activities or counter surveillance. 

Private investigators in Canada, however, may not use electronic surveillance as often as police do due to their limited investigative resources, as well as legal restrictions on the use of such devices. Our investigators may be able to use electronic surv if it is deemed necessary for the investigation and if it is done within the confines of the law.

Mobile Surveillance 

It is the art of patiently waiting for a target to become active and then documenting their activity. This might involve sitting in the same spot for days, weeks, months or even longer in order to observe the target’s movements and activities. You know, the kind you see in the movies with the guys in the back of a van?

It requires patience and dedication to the task and can often involve extended periods of no activity. During a surv operation, it is important to remain vigilant and stay alert for any changes in the target’s behavior. Mobile surv is useful for gathering intelligence and is a great way to keep track of a person’s activities in a discreet and unobtrusive manner.

Surveillance equipment 

Is a vital tool for many different professions, from security guards and private investigators to law enforcement officers and intelligence agents. It can be used to monitor a person or a location, providing detailed information about activity and behaviour. Equipment can be anything from cameras and microphones to biometric scanners, sensors and tracking devices.

Surveillance Techniques: Observing, Documenting, and Reporting

It is an essential part of the investigative industry. As a professional investigator, it is important to thoroughly document the activity of your subject and store the evidence in a secure and compliant manner. Proper documentation of the activity of the subject should include detailed reporting of the activity with photos, videos, and any other form of evidence you may have obtained. 

This documentation should be stored securely for future reference and for use as evidence should the case go to court. It is also important to ensure that you remain compliant with all applicable laws when handling the case.

Staying Discreet: The Importance of Being Unnoticed

In order for your case to have the highest level of success, it is imperative that your target does not know you are there. If you get burnt on a file, that makes the success of that file that much more challenging or requires multiple surveillance investigators to join the file, and still, the success can be less as the target will become aware of their actions and likely pivot. 


By understanding surveillance and the techniques surrounding it, private investigative agencies can provide their clients with the information and evidence they need to make informed decisions. 

Whether you are a seasoned investigator or just starting out in the field, understanding these techniques can help you conduct successful surveillance operations and ultimately achieve your client’s goals. Please contact our investigators today if you have any questions about surveillance or wish to hire a private investigator. 

About the Author

Whitney Joy Smith

Whitney Joy Smith is a prominent figure in the field of private investigation and security, serving as the founder and CEO of The Smith Investigation Agency Inc., Smith Security Inc., and Training Centre Canada, as well as a sitting politician.

With a remarkable journey that began in the early 2000s, Whitney's professional background as a private investigator is underscored by her unwavering dedication to the role. Born in Canada and having spent her early years between Canada and the United States, Whitney possesses a unique perspective shaped by her experiences in both countries. This background equips her with an in-depth understanding of the intricacies of private investigative laws, regulations, and operational standards in North America.

Throughout her career, Whitney has garnered numerous industry awards and accolades. She takes great pride in working closely with her continually expanding agency, striving to elevate industry standards, maintain compliance, and effectively meet the diverse investigative needs of clients.

Whitney actively engages in various membership, committee, board and support roles, demonstrating her commitment to the industry and professional community. She is affiliated with all local chambers, associations and more.

Whitney's wealth of experience is not limited to her professional achievements; her thought-provoking articles have been featured in publications ranging from Readers Digest, Cosmopolitan, Huffington Post, and Mens Health to Business News Daily. She constantly seeks to redefine standards and push the boundaries of excellence within the private investigative and security fields.

To discover more about Whitney Joy Smith and the dedicated team at The Smith Investigation Agency Inc., visit our website to learn more.

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