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What Makes a Private Investigator Awesome? Solid Discretion Tactics

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In Canada, there are a ton of awesome private investigators in the field at any given time. The one thing that sets these individuals apart from the rest is that they have mastered the art of discretion. Discretion is one of the number one tools at a private investigator’s disposal. It helps them to blend into the crowd, even when they’re one of a few people walking down the street.

Think about it. Have you ever found yourself going to the grocery store or to the mall and recognizing a private investigator? If the answer is yes, than that private investigator need a lesson or two in the art of discretion.

To maintain discretion, private investigators employ a wide variety of tactics. While we can’t give away all of our secrets, we thought we would reveal a few of the many ways in which private investigators maintain discretion.

Pre-planning & Strategy

It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that private investigators put a lot of preparation, planning and strategy into an investigation.


A private investigator needs to know the location of the investigation, the best entry and exit points, what stores or businesses are in the area, peak busy hours, areas to park, and more. If a private investigator doesn’t at least take a look at a map, they risk ruining the entire investigation.

Before a private investigator even puts together a plan, they will need to answer some of the following questions:

  • What will I need?
  • Where will the investigation take place?
  • Who will I need to work with?
  • Will I need to travel anywhere else?


Once a private investigator finishes pre-planning the investigation, they will need to come up with a plan, or strategy. This simply means that he or she needs to figure out the best approach for the investigation. So, thing like,

  • The area is busiest around 10:00 AM, which means I will likely need two other private investigators to help in case I lose sight of the suspect.
  • Parking is available on the south side of the main street. If the lot is full, I need to head to the second parking location one street over.
  • I will need to bring my telephoto lens and binoculars because the best place to survey the suspects home is too far to see clearly.

While these examples might seem simplistic, the strategy a private investigator uses and puts together based on the pre-planning stage is what helps to shape the outcome of the case. Any strategy that the private investigator comes up with should always focus on discretion.

A Few Private Investigator Tactics

The strategy a private investigator develops also includes different tactics. Based on the pre-planning information a private investigator might decide that the will need a disguise or that they need to send an alternate in their place.

Here are a few examples of some common tactics private investigator use to maintain discretion:

Maintain a Reasonable Disguise

If a private investigator shows up in brightly coloured clothing with all their friends in tow, chances are they will attract attention. The whole point to an investigation is to maintain discretion at all times.

This is why the outfit that the private investigator wears is so important. Typically a private investigator will wear plain clothing in muted colors. They might also wear a ball cap and/or sunglasses. These subtle outfit staples really help a private investigator to maintain discretion. On the flip side, getting too creative could backfire, like a stick on moustache or fake hairpiece. If it doesn’t look authentic or real, the private investigator risks standing out.

Blending In

As mentioned above, a private investigator does not want to risk standing out. They maintain discretion by blending in as much as possible—and that doesn’t just mean in what they wear. For example, if the investigation is in a location like China Town, sending in a private investigator of the same ethnicity is a good idea. That individual will blend in and won’t stand out, even in a crowd.

Blending in really depends on the type of case the private investigator is working. For example, let’s say that a private investigator is hired to follow a spouse on a work trip to Mexico. The private investigator will need to pack typical vacation gear like a bathing suit, casual wear, etc. in addition to their investigation equipment. If the private investigator is following a suspect down a residential street on a rainy day, he or she really shouldn’t wear a hoodie and sunglasses.

Choose the Minivan

The type of vehicle a private investigator chooses is also a tactic to maintain discretion. A fancy car like a Porsche or brightly coloured convertible is going to attract unwanted attention. People aren’t generally attracted to a grey vehicle. Nor are they generally interested in a minivan. Minivans usually make people think of families and soccer practice. They don’t usually make people think about private investigators.

Shhh . . .

We hate to say it, but we’re going to have to stop there! It would be too easy for us to tell you all of our secrets. Don’t worry. You’re not the only ones! Our family, friends and clients ask us to spill our discretion tactics all the time.

Unfortunately, if we told everyone who asked, it would eventually have an impact on all our amazing private investigators. People would start to suspect they’ve spotted an investigator and that could potentially lead to a disruption in the case.

In any case, the most important thing you need to worry about when hiring a private investigator is that they do their job ethically. Also, you want to know that the private investigator won’t break the law to find the information you need. It is these characteristics, in combination with tactics to maintain discretion, is truly what sets a good private investigator apart from the rest.


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