SURVEILLANCE BY A LICENSED NEW JERSEY PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR
Work With A New Jersey Private Investigator You Can Trust, Contact Former Jersey City Police Chief Bob Cowan For A free 30 minute consultation.
Many cases will require some level of surveillance by a Private Investigator, at Cowan Investigations we start by gathering as much information as we can from the client prior to commencing the job. This sounds like an obvious starting point, but it is surprising the number of clients who resist a Private Investigator in the acquiring of this critical pre-investigation intelligence. Many clients simply prefer only to give you the subjects name, age and address and then leave the rest to the Private Investigator as if we have some magical insight. At Cowan Investigations our detailed interview regarding the subject’s workplace, habits, hobbies, favorite places to go, together with other information will exceed industry standards, i.e. doctor appointments, therapy appointments, marital status, number of children, hobbies, gyms, preferred grocery stores, restaurants etc. The acquiring of this information prior to the beginning of a surveillance allows for a clear picture of the subjects routine and helps us avoid trying to obtain this information from the client while we are out in the field on an active investigation. Additionally, it is important if at all possible, that we obtain recent photographs of the subject and any other relevant individuals in addition to detailed descriptions of vehicles he/she may operate including license plate numbers. This information, together with a search of public records and databases, will save us time and allow for providing the client a more cost-effective investigation.
Prior to Google Mapping and other advancements in technology, in order to do his/her job properly a Private Investigator would be remiss if he/she did not go into the field in order to establish the surveillance site and alternate positions prior to initiating the surveillance. However, it is now possible for the Private Investigator to create an accurate surveillance plan prior to commencing the covert operation by using the mapping systems previously referenced. This allows the Investigator to locate a suitable area to set up and park, look for potential problems and scout ahead for likely entrances and exits to the area, this is the second step of a successful surveillance.
It is important during a surveillance to take and retain notes which consist of clear and concise facts, not opinion. It is essential that the surveillance notes be written as if the Investigator expects these notes to be subpoenaed into court in the event the Investigator is required to testify.
Often times during a surveillance it will be necessary for the Private Investigator to follow the subject in a vehicle, whether it be day or night, each comes with its own pitfalls; one thing is clear, on television it looks a whole lot easier than it really is. During the day it is much easier to blend in with other traffic and it is also easier to have this same traffic obstruct your surveillance at critical moments.b At night under the cover of darkness in light traffic you are much less noticeable and in most instances can stay close enough to keep up with the subject. However, the real problem at night occurs when you are on either very rural roads and/or other roads that are devoid of traffic, in other words, just your vehicle and the other vehicle. There are several ways to account for these drawbacks; first and foremost is the gathering of as much information and intelligence as possible regarding the subject of the investigation, another method of providing for successful mobile surveillances is through the use of a two person surveillance team. Whatever the method to be used, it
will be thoroughly discussed with the client prior to the commencement of the investigation.
When I first became a Private Investigator I drove a non-descript SUV which I used for surveillance activities. Using the SUV did not last long, after sitting in MOST NEIGHBORHOODS for 15 minutes or so residents begin to wonder who you are and what you are doing; I quickly noticed that by conducting surveillances in this manner I was putting my clients investigation at risk. Shortly thereafter, I purchased a surveillance vehicle that enabled me to access the rear of the vehicle from the drivers seat. In any surveillance heavy investigation I now utilize this vehicle. I can remain in the rear of the vehicle taking video for hours on end and from a person standing outside my surveillance vehicle it appears to be an unoccupied parked car. This surveillance vehicle is now one of three dedicated surveillance vehicles owned by Cowan Investigations.
It is imperative while the Private Investigator is preparing for a lengthy surveillance that will largely take place from the confines of a vehicle that the Private Investigator provide for certain personal needs. 1) The surveillance vehicle must be fully gassed up, 2) the Investigator must take the food and beverages he/she will need in a cooler inside the vehicle 3) without being too descriptive, it is important the Private Investigator be able to take care of personal needs while remaining inside the vehicle, I have not often been to a surveillance location which has access to a porto-potty, enough said. Failure of the Private Investigator to take any of these three steps by thinking it is okay to just jump out at a fast food location, gas up and use the bathroom is just not acceptable and will result in a significant risk that the investigator will either miss a significant visual moment or even worse, lose track of the subject, thus causing unwarranted expense to the client.