P.I. gets “made”.

rural surveillanceThis poor guy.

This is an image from a real case where the Private Investigator got burned – and burned bad.

Here’s what happened…

A neighbor was suspicious of this vehicle parked on their street. They go up and check it out and discover a black curtain between the driver’s seat and the back of the vehicle. So they call the police and prepare to wait the guy out.

Once the police show up, the guy gets out and explains he’s a P.I. and that he was hired to watch for a vehicle that comes down the street sometimes. He even names his “client” saying it’s a delivery service who needs to check up on a driver. Ouch!

Okay, let’s do the autopsy on this mess and identify any one of a few things this Private Detective could have changed that would have changed the way his day ended – and the way his case ended!

Here are three things to consider and learn from…

  1. Location.
    In my professional opinion he should have had his vehicle off the road. Parking in the street is a sure way to draw attention. Now, in this rural environment, even off to the side of the road, someone is going to notice and check you out. I would suggest that depending on who owns the wooded property along the side of the road, you should look at just hunkering down in the woods to do your surveillance. (Been there. Done that.)
  2. Front or Back of the Vehicle?
    Sitting in the back of the van is always my preference. But, it’s not always the right place to be.On an urban or suburban street, being well concealed in the back of a vehicle (with tint and/or curtains) means just one more “empty” vehicle sitting on the street. But, in a rural environment, even a empty vehicle will draw attention. From neighbors, from the police and even form “Good Samaritans” who genuinely want to make sure everything is alright.That means, if you wanted to sit there, consider sitting in the front seat with the hood up, posing as if you’re broken down.
  3. Pretext.
    A pretext is your “reason” or “excuse” for being there. It’s never the truth. For example, if he’s sitting with his hood up and claiming to be broken down, then that’s his pretext. So what was his pretext? He said a package delivery company hired him to watch for a driver. (Hopefully, that wasn’t the truth!) But here’s what’s wrong with that pretext… He NAMED the company! And it was a real company! If you’re going to use that as a pretext – don’t name a real company! Make up a company name.
    What did he do right? At least he never named the real client or admit to who he was really watching.

My only hope is that – even though the neighbors were up in arms and the police called – he was as far away from the actual subject of his investigation as I recommend in my DVD surveillance training course. That might even save the investigation… maybe. This was a pretty bad burn.

Heck, maybe he was watching someone through the trees and he wasn’t even on their street! I hope so. But, then why sit in the back seat? Food for thought.

Practical tip: Think through different scenarios and especially your pretexts. Ask yourself, “If someone in these circumstances told me this story, would I believe them?

Each investigation is different, but you need the skills, tricks and techniques of a surveillance professional to make sure your “tool bag” of methods (and pretexts!) is full. Then you’ll know you have the right tool for the right job!

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