Surveillance private investigation is a means of monitoring the behavior of an individual or group of individuals, typically in order to obtain information about their location, behaviors, or potential illegal activity. Private investigators are hired most often by attorneys for civil suits, but they can also be useful for families searching for lost loved ones, background checks, investigating strange or illegal behavior of a close friend, loved one, or business partner, locating information or assets for use in a lawsuit, electronic surveillance of suspicious persons, and others.
How to find a reputable private investigator
Finding a reputable private investigator is the first step. Most sources recommend getting a referral from a law enforcement officer or deputy, attorney, or criminal defense lawyer. If possible, contacting a local FBI duty agency may also be beneficial in the location of a reputable private investigator.
After generating a list of referrals, it is then necessary to ensure that the investigators are licensed in the state in which you are conducting your investigation. States have varying licensing requirements for private investigators, so it is essential to be familiar with the licensing requirements of a given state before hiring. Each state’s Department of Consumer Affairs has a list of licensed private investigators for reference.
Private Investigator Specialties
Most private investigators also have specialties — reputable private investigators will have files available for public viewing that can help determine in what field of private investigation they have experienced the most success. Surveillance investigations, for example, require a specific set of tools and a necessary skill set for guaranteed success. In order to determine satisfaction of previous clients, it is possible to search online or in public records for complaints filed against any given investigator.
Similarly, investigators come at varying price points — clients should be aware of the price point of a given investigator before hiring, and should seek out the most qualified investigator for their money.
The goals and processes of surveillance investigation services
After hiring and discussing fees and required services (for example, the investigators willingness to testify in court, attentiveness to the client’s previously gathered information, etc.), the investigation begins. A surveillance private investigator is particularly useful in gathering information on the behaviors and location of a given person. Typically, a surveillance investigator utilizes video recording technology and GPS tracking, tailing a vehicle, or using unrecognizable field agents to gather the most information about a given target.
Video surveillance technology is perhaps the most useful in court settings, because it records images of the behavior of the target, which provide the most definitive proof. This can be difficult to acquire, particularly in the beginning of an investigation, before the information about a target’s frequented locations are available. By using GPS tracking or tailing the target of the investigation, it is possible to determine where they are most likely conducting illegal or reprehensible activities.
If the goal of the investigation is a background check, field agents may be most useful in determining the credibility of the target. Field agents are unrecognizable to the target, and thus can watch and take notes on the target’s behavior for the client for a given period of time, to determine their behaviors and habits. If a target is particularly attentive, using the same field agents can become dangerous – the target may begin to recognize or become suspicious of the agents. In this case, using a less personal or detectable means of surveillance, like video or GPS tracking, can be more beneficial.
Once the information is gathered, a private investigator will prepare a report for the client, with the gathered information included. The client can then use this for whatever intended purpose, including court testimony.
Utilizing a private investigator’s expertise
Private investigators are hired specifically for their knowledge of the legal components of their surveillance, and thus are best suited to conducting private investigations. While some information can be gleaned from clients taking an investigation into their own hands, testimony in court or when confronting the targeted individual is most successful when a professional has been hired to investigate. Their information is more credible, and they are typically capable of digging deeper, and discovering more information for the client than they would be able to gather themselves.
In order to avoid accusations of infringing on the targeted individual’s privacy, and to guarantee the most successful possible investigation, it is best to hire a licensed and reputable private investigator. Hiring a professional ensures legality, will be more effective in satisfying the goals of the client, and also saves the client time and energy.