Two surveillance tips when doing mobile surveillance whether you’re working from a car, surveillance van or SUV.
1. Keep the front seat super clean unless…
you have a specific reason to have something(s) up there.
A clean front seat (especially when working from the back of the vehicle) will make any person who looks in think the vehicle belongs to a professional. Maybe they’ll think it belongs to a a salesman in the neighborhood, but they won’t think it’s some criminal’s car or a vagrants van. They will be much less likely to call the police on a professional’s car. And that’s what you want… they just look, figure it’s okay and move on.
The exception is if you want to have something in the front seat area to reinforce your pretext.
For example, if your pretext is that you are a construction worker doing the prep work for a major sewer cleaning project in the neighborhood, you may want to have a clipboard, a hard hat and an orange vest. Exactly the stuff people think a construction worker or supervisor would have.
What is a pretext?
Definition: Pretext – The “reason” (really the excuse) you give for being where you are and doing what you are doing. It is never the truth. You may work a surveillance where you tell the person questioning you the truth, but then it’s not a pretext.
BONUS TIP: I recommend you never lie to the police when questioned. To learn how a professional investigator deals with this (and much more!) get The Investigator’s Ultimate Gide to Surveillance.
2. Always (ALWAYS!) keep your car key in the same place where you KNOW it is and can INSTANTLY get your hands on it.
You can keep it hidden in a cup holder or in a specific pocket, but you’ve gotta be able to grab it instantly when you need to go.
WARNING: If you keep your key in your shirt pocket, be careful because when you’re climbing from the back seat to the front seat it may fall out and that is not a good time to be fumbling for your key!
By the way, if you want more straight talk about our industry don’t miss my special report “If You Want To be a Private Investigator Give Up… Unless You Do These Three Things”. You can get it for free right here…
Committed to your success,
Larry Kaye, P.I.
If using a cover then at least know something about it and do not just rely on props to convince anyone. If someone with subject knowledge or an inquisitive person asks then you know enough to prove you are who you say you are. Lastly, when using props and cover then do not act archaically, such as doing things that are not normal or “photographing birds” while camera is pointed at a house. People are not that dumb, especially elderly folks.
Absolutely! If you can’t pull off your “cover” (AKA your pretext), then choose another pretext! Great point, Stephen. Thanks!