Drones: The New Age of Private Investigators

By September 24, 2014Private Investigator

Drones-The New Age of Private Investigators



 Gone are the days when private investigators hid behind bushes with binoculars, spent hours looking through old files or participated in the ever popular and time consuming stakeout. Today’s technology offers high-power digital camera lenses, databases, and drones to find out what they need to know.


There’s no shortage of work for great private investigators, and contrary to popular belief they don’t all spend their time securing evidence for cheating partners. They are highly sought after by insurance companies, fortune 500 corporations, small businesses and just about anyone who is in a need-to-know position.



It’s all about surveillance  


The heartbeat of PI work is investigation, examination, and observation, and these all boil down to surveillance in some way. Whether it’s checking out a worker’s compensation claim to determine its legitimacy, looking at lawsuit claims of injury or illegal activity expected by a corporate officer, watching people is a large part of the work.


While cameras have been around forever, none were as inconspicuous as those used by today’s professional snoopers. These devices can be hidden just about anywhere. Obvious places are in ink pens and watches, but are in water bottles, clock radios, small stuffed toys, key chains, and literally in hundreds of other innovative items.


Of course, a step up if you need more than pictures are video cameras. Position video equipment in hotel rooms, bedrooms, and other places you suspect are getting the right action.



Drones: the Cadillac of surveillance


When you think about drones, images of military secret missions come to mind, but not machinery that’s readily available. However, in March 2014 in a judicial proceeding drones were legalized for commercial use. This opened doors of opportunity for private detectives and professional surveillance companies.


Drones can be used in several ways:

Observation from a distance

Litigation support

♦ Evidence collection

♦ Used in lieu of a helicopter



Commercial drones are not their military counterpart


The drones used in the military are very powerful and their cost can exceed six figures. The price for commercial drones start at about $500 dollars and go upwards from there into the thousands. For private citizens who just want a new toy similar to a remote control airplane, a few hundred bucks is very affordable.


If you’re using a drone for investigative purposes then you might want to consider making your investment worthwhile. For rural areas and places that are just difficult to access, drones are certainly a great option, especially when embarking on private property.




Public perception


Some folks are leery regarding the use of drones for surveillance. No one likes to imagine actions they think private are being watched by someone. This is not a great feeling. However, private detectives usually have specific targets and reasons for using drones. The idea is not to infringe on anyone’s privacy like the Snoopy drone we wrote about back in May.




Drones for pictures and videos


Let’s face it, there are high places and tight spots that are very difficult to reach. Even high-power camera lenses are limited based on the physical capabilities of the photographer. The flexibility of drones to take pictures and videos from 135 feet is pretty fascinating. Who can argue with a video?


Drones open up levels of surveillance formerly unavailable. Wives and husbands still top the list as some of the best customers of private investigators. Even those partners who are extremely careful can be discovered if they aren’t even aware of being watched, making drones an excellent tool.


The video or picture feed is live, therefore immediate action can be taken, especially if the activity is illegal.




Using surveillance properly


Regulations regarding the use of drones are not etched in stone. The commercial use of drones is legal, but stipulations regarding their usage may be forthcoming. Whatever the case, make sure that you examine your position with legal counsel.


Before you make the investment or purchase a drone for your business, do your homework. Network with your peers and attend trade shows that display and feature drones. Learn how to use this new technology and take the time to understand its features and limitations. You want to be comfortable with your decision.


Drones are here to stay and law enforcement and other government agencies enjoy its benefits. As with any surveillance tool, use it wisely.


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