Pre-Surveillance Operations Techniques

Proper planning and preparation is always one of the key factor to your success in whatever that you intend to achieve. This concept also applies in a surveillance operations where before your actual surveillance even begins there are several things you can do to ensure that your surveillance efforts will be successful. Consider these five (5) tips:

1. Google Maps-Check out your subject’s residence on Google Maps or a similar internet map service. Choose the “Earth” map setting which allows you to see the actual satellite photographs of the residence. This will give you a great birds-eye view of not only the residence but the neighbourhood, as well. It can alert you to potential problems, such as your subject’s residence being near a highway on-ramp or a one-way street. You’ll need to know these things so you don’t run into any surprises later on.

2. It’s always!! You can be on your way as well, but it’s better when you consult websites like or other similar property websites where these websites will provide more information than you probably want to know. Aside from maps and pictures of the residence you’ll be able to find out the number of bedrooms, square footage, lot size, if it’s for sale (great for pre-texting), when it was built, local schools and even the estimated rent and mortgage payment amounts.

3. Vehicle Search! Utilize your resources to find out what vehicles are registered to the subject, what vehicles are registered at the subject’s address and what vehicle registration information is historical (expired) as opposed to current. It’s nice to know this information before you arrive in the dark at 5:45 am the next day and find out there’s four or five vehicles in the driveway, most with the view of their license plates obstructed. In fact, one of the better ways of identifying a subject during a surveillance is by knowing which vehicle is registered to them beforehand.

4. Pre-Surveillance Check-And if that’s not enough, a quick drive-by the day before surveillance can mitigate problems that could occur during the actual surveillance. A pre-surveillance check allows you to see the residence during daylight hours, look for possible avenues of your subject’s arrival and departure, scout ahead for possible places to set up your surveillance vehicle and observe potential problems. And who knows? You may get lucky and drive by while the subject is mowing his lawn. It’s been known to happen.

5.  What Time do I Start?  There’s nothing worse than arriving on the surveillance late in the morning and wondering whether or not the subject is at even home.  Yes, you can pre-text or door knock, but I am of the opinion that those procedures should only be used when absolutely necessary.  If you set up surveillance by 6:00 am you will more than likely begin the day with the claimant home. If it’s a rural surveillance you may want to set up earlier.  If it’s a liability case and the claimant works construction it wouldn’t be out of place to be set up by 4:00 am to 4:30 am.