Surveillance or Observation job is one of the main task in a job description of a Private Investigator. Its either you become the coordinator of your own surveillance team which can be comprises of one, two or more operatives at one time at a site or you yourself will have to go on the ground carrying out the task yourself. I’m not going to be touching on the topic which method is the best in carrying carry out the task , but I would like to highlight the findings that was presented in one of the forum where I am one of the member. The issue that was brought up was:-
“If your mark becomes aware that you are watching them, what reactions have you observed from them”?
Members in the forum who are mostly seasoned private investigators had voted as below:-
1) They directly confront you-15%
2) They call the police-12%
3) The drive away or get our of sight-18%
4) They behave bizarrely or misleadingly-40%
5) I have never been compromised-12%
Due to this voting result, below are the comments from some of the private investigators on the topic:-
“If you stay in the business long enough, EVERY surveillance operative gets burned at some point. It’s part of the “game” and it happens to the best of us. I taught surveillance at the school that I worked for and have over 30 years experience and I’d be a lying bastard if I said I had never been burned. I just change vehicles and move on to another day.”
” I’ve been licensed since 1991 and in my career I’ve met investigators who made the claim that they have never been caught and better yet, have never lost eye sight and or contact with their subject while on a mobile surveillance. I myself have lost visual contact of a Subject and also been burned. Law Enforcement using 4 or 5 operatives and also lost their Subject while on a chase so its nothing new and its a fact. I scoff at those whom I meet when they tell me they have never lost anyone and or have never been burnt. “
“Surveillance is not following, I like to think of it as a series of losses interspersed with the occasional control, preferably when the Subject is up to no good. I always work as part of a team, and in the days of government work that meant up to 16 operators per shift in a variety of vehicles; cars, bikes, vans and planes, oh yes taxis, push bikes or whatever was needed to meet the task. We still had compromises and losses, it’s the nature of the game, we also managed a high percentage of regains following losses due to high skill levels, target knowledge and tactics. If you are working against a good IO or sophisticated target then you should never know for certain, but you should always work worst case scenario, rest vehicles and operators, easy if you have the resources. If your Subject is further down the awareness chain then it becomes more apparent, the result is the same; change vehicles, operators and perhaps adjust tactics. Bottom line is it happens it is how you deal with it that sets the professional apart from the enthusiastic amateur.”
“There are so many variables that can take place out the field that you have no control over that can compromise a surveillance. It’s going to happen. There are also strategies that you can implement to recover from it and pick back up on your Target and not be recognized. It all depends on how long the client has contracted the job for as Geoff pointed out. I always try to do a pretext on my Target before I even begin. It sometimes helps you to know where they might be headed next if you lose them at locations supplied by the client initially.”
From all the above, I can just say that Surveillance/Observation is not an easy task and those who have the skill set, you should be honored for possessing it.