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Interview with Richard, a Surveillance Operative

Interview With a Professional Surveillance Private Investigator



1. You are a Private Investigator, what does that entail?

There are many different fields a Private Investigator can work in. These include Factual Investigations, where you interview people or take statements for a variety of reasons, including injuries, home insurance (when a burglary has taken place), travel insurance, workplace harassment, etc. Some Investigators specialise in locating missing persons. I specialise in Surveillance.

2. Surveillance? What does that involve?

Surveillance Investigators discreetly observe and document the activities of a Subject for a variety of reasons. Some clients need to ascertain whether their partner is cheating on them, some insurance companies require surveillance on someone when they have suspicions of fraudulent behaviour like exaggerating their injuries after a car accident, sometimes large companies need an ex-worker followed to see whether they have been actively poaching clients or staff when they start up a business in direct competition with their former employer.

3. How does your average day go?

No two days are the same, that’s one of the best things about surveillance. We usually start early in the morning and have a starting address based on information we have been provided. Usually, we are in a vehicle although sometimes we are on foot. We take up a discreet position where we have a view of what we need to see, be that a front door, vehicle or garage. We watch and wait for activity and when there is activity, we expose video to obtain our evidence. If the Subject departs on foot, so do we. If they leave in a vehicle, so do we. Sounds easy, but it’s not. We need to be alert all the time, ready for action, in a good position to get clear video, discreet enough not to get caught and close enough not to lose someone. Throw in heavy peak hour traffic and red light/speed cameras and you will soon find out just how difficult the job can be.

4. What happens if there is no activity?

We wait. Depending on the budget for the job and the allocated hours, sometimes we wait all day, other times we may spend 4 or 5 hours and cease then maybe come back another day with a later start time.

5. How do you sit there and wait all day? What about going to the toilet?

We come prepared to sit all day. A well-prepared Investigator will bring plenty of water, plenty of food, all the necessary equipment and a bottle to go to the toilet in. Much easier for a male than a female although there are devices on the market that help females go to the toilet in a car.

6. What sort of equipment do you use?

We have video cameras with decent zoom ability, covert cameras which can be used up close without being noticed and two-way radios if we work two-up on a job. We usually have a backpack ready, so we can dump our vehicle and go on foot or jump on public transport. We carry travel passes, cash and other things so we are ready for the unexpected.

7. You must see some funny things whilst on the job, what’s the most interesting thing that has happened?

Too many things to really to be able to pick from. Sometimes, just seeing the way people who are not related to the investigation behave when they don’t realise someone can see them is hilarious. Recently, I was assaulted by a woman who thought I took her parking space. I was trying to follow an investigation subject who had just parked nearby so I found the closest park and for some reason this woman believed I had taken her space. She came up to my window screaming and assaulted me. You can watch the video here if you like: https://www.facebook.com/LyonswoodInvestigations/videos/1955351387810644/

8. Is the job dangerous?

It can be occasionally, but the aim of the game is to be discreet and not be seen and usually, this is possible.