The Surveillance Techniques Private Investigators Use

Being a competent private investigator requires a thorough understanding of three primary competencies. These include interviewing, records research, and surveillance. Among these, surveillance is typically the hardest one for most PIs to navigate successfully.

Surveillance can be used to prevent crime, obtain proof of a crime, or document a suspect’s movements to be used as proof in a case. There are different techniques of surveillance you’ll learn when undertaking a course for a private investigator certification online. Here are the main ones:

Human Surveillance

In this option, the PI is the primary source of information. There are two forms of human surveillance—the stakeout and the three-person surveillance. In the stakeout/fixed monitoring, the PI watches the subject from a distance. The three-person surveillance/ABC method involves three PIs. One follows the suspect, another remains close by while the third is constantly behind or in front of the suspect.

Mechanical Surveillance

This involves the use of technological or electronic devices to gather information. In electronic monitoring, the PI will scrutinize a suspect’s phone, fax, and email communications. Most states require a court order for electronic monitoring. Stationary device surveillance involves the use of hidden cameras or recording equipment. This form of surveillance is among the most effective since the chances of detection by the suspect are minimal.

Overt Surveillance

This technique involves the use of visible agents including security cameras or security agents in public places. In most cases, people don’t pay much attention to overt surveillance since it is public. There are hence high chances of catching your suspect in the wrong since it trails no specific person.

Carrying out successful surveillance without detection and within your state’s law requires tact. It’s easy to bungle your entire investigation with a mistake in your surveillance techniques. With proper training from a reputable school, however, you’re guaranteed of being among the best in this delicate area of private investigation.