A SHORT COURSE ON
SURVEILLANCE ISSUES
BY KELLY RIDDLE

 
HAVING THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT FOR SURVEILLANCE
by Kelly Riddle
Kelmar and Associates, Inc.
San Antonio, TX
All of my years as a PI have taught me one significant thing regarding surveillance, having the right equipment is essential. Having a video camera and saying you're a PI is a long way from being prepared and being good at surveillance. First, your vehicle is important. I have had many discussions with those PI's who use vans, but I can assure you that if you ask the average person what they think a PI will be driving, most will say a van. We therefore don't use vans and preparing your car or truck properly makes all the difference. Besides getting window tinting, there are other tricks. In most states, you can put limousine tinting on all windows except the driver and passenger doors. Therefore, the perfect solution for these is to cut plexi-glass in the shape of these windows, leaving them 1/3 of an inch shorter. Then tint the plexi-glass and you can easily roll the plexi-glass up against the window where it will remain snug. If stopped by police, simply take the tint down and you're ready to pass inspection.
Next, you should place a curtain rod behind the seat and obtain a cloth matching the color of your interior, cutting it into two sections so they can be pushed to the sides when not in use. Then, you can get a cardboard sunvisor and put this in the front window when stationary. If you do this, most of the light will be deflected and a person can cup their hands over their face against a window and still not see in.
Of course, today's technology is much better. There are better video cameras with higher powered lenses, better attachable lenses, and all of the little "toys of the trade" such as pager camera and other ready to use hidden cameras. These are the things that professional PI's engaged in surveillance have to have to be successful.

KNOWING WHEN TO BACK OFF
by Kelly E. Riddle
Kelmar and Associates, Inc.
San Antonio, TX
When I tell my clients and other PI's that I have been doing surveillance for more than 13 years, have worked more than 6,500 surveillances and have only been confronted by the person less than 10 times, they usually look at me in disbelief. The fact is, knowing when to back off during a surveillance is as much an art as the actual technique of surveillance. When talking to clients, they usually tell me horror stories about cases that other PI's have blown during surveillance. I can tell you one thing, a client does not enjoy having the subject call them in an irate manner demanding an explanation as to why someone was watching them. I can also assure you that when this happens, it will be the last case you receive from that client.
Most PI's are very competitive by nature and feel that letting the subject go for the time being is the same as failure. In actuality, nothing is further from the truth. If you continue to follow the subject until they become suspicious, you have blown the case and any chances of getting the person to conduct their affairs without altering their activity. When you deliberately let the person go and discontinue the surveillance, the case is still viable and there is always "another day." The attitude associated with "losing" a person is the first obstacle to overcome before being able to make this just another successful surveillance technique.
Most "rookie" PI's who do surveillance go through a normal stage of learning in which they think every time they follow someone the person "is on to them." This is just part of maturing as a good PI, but it is an attitude that has to be dealt with quickly. The general public actually has no idea how surveillance is conducted and they pay very little attention to their surroundings. Think of it, can you remember the vehicle that was behind you the last time you were driving somewhere? What about those cars that were 6-7 cars behind you in the next lane over? Unless you stay glued to the person's bumper or make some type of irregular or erratic movement, the subject will more than likely have no idea you're anywhere around.
There are those times, however, when even the best PI fells somewhat compromised. Following a vehicle in a residential area when they have turned onto 8-9 streets and you are the only other vehicle anywhere around starts to conjure up these types of anxieties. After a while, you begin to feel like your in a parade with only two vehicles in the parade. Just because you follow a person on a lot of different streets does not mean that they are paying attention to you. There are characteristics to watch for such as how often the person looks in the rear-view mirror and side mirrors. If the person starts to slow their vehicle uncharacteristically, this may be an indication or it may simply mean that they are hunting for an address. If the person has other occupants in the car, they will be distracted by talking. The inside of most vehicles can be viewed from a distance and the PI should pay attention to the activities of the driver. For instance, are they putting on make-up while driving, drinking coffee, eating, singing to the radio? If so, they will be less likely to pay attention to you and this should be a factor in your decision to back off or to stay with them.
PI's get into a bad habit of just following the subject without thinking ahead. When this occurs, you're setting yourself up for a fall. I teach my investigators to always think ahead when following a subject. As an example, as you're driving on a highway, think of the exits coming up and try to determine where the claimant may be going (is their doctor up ahead, a relative's house?). At the same time, you should be forming some type of thought in your mind regarding a pre-text. What if the subject lured you off the highway and into traffic where you had no way out and the subject approached your car? Think of a reason why you are in that area of town. The old excuse of "i'm lost" doesn't hold much weight.
When following a subject, you should always try to act like you are just anyone else heading to work. If you get stuck in traffic behind the subject, look off to the sides so that they can't get a good look at your face and make it appear as if you are interested in something you see nearby. You can also drink coffee, act like your singing, adjust a contact or something similar that would make the person believe you are not interested in them. As obvious as it sounds, I have seen too many PI's do this, so I will express the concern: never, never talk on a radio when close enough to the subject for them to see. In fact, I don't even like to talk on a cellular phone when they can see.
When all of your tactics have been used to keep up with the person and you still feel "naked," back off! There is nothing wrong with backing off. This is when your artistic writing ability comes into play. It doesn't look good in a report if you suggest the person was suspicious of you. After all, you're a professional and they assigned you the case to prevent detection from occurring. You can always indicate that the person turned their right turn signal on and you cut across a parking lot in an attempt to "cut them off at the pass," but the subject went straight and you got hung up in traffic. There are all kinds of viable ways to cover and side-step the issue without making yourself appear unprofessional. When this occurs on the same case more than once, however, you need to address the possibility of re-assigning the case to another of your investigators, changing vehicles or using more than one PI. Pushing the limits of the case will only end up with negative results. Backing off from time to time is legitimate and enables you to maintain the case, the client and your professional respect.

SPOUSE ENTRAPMENT?
As a private investigator, I am often asked about those cases in which PI's use "plants" to check out their client's spouse or the person they are dating. A plant is a trained investigator who also happens to be very attractive and sets out to see if the person will take the bait. The majority of the time, it is a female plant who has the job of catching the eye of a male subject. Once indiscreet eye contact is made, they attempt to lure the subject into a conversation. During the course of the conversation, the goal is to determine whether or not the subject will admit to having a wife and kids and if they will ask the plant out.
Although this is a growing practice in the PI industry, I personally have some problems with this type of situation. Some people like to have a few drinks to forget about the daily pressures and for a few hours, forget about all of the responsibilities that they have. Part of the job of a plant is to see how the person presents their life in an attempt to determine if they are unhappy with their wife, which could lead to an affair. I have seen too many people of both sexes complain about their spouse or something their spouse did while kicking back and having a few drinks but this in no way meant that they were ready to have an affair. In addition, I have observed some men box themselves into conversations that evolved into a type of flirting. They even went so far as to take the plant's telephone number. However, once sober, the subjects have no intention of calling the plant. As we have learned through the media, even some of the best people succumb to the right temptation at just the right moment.
The subject who takes the bait and asks for the plant's telephone number may have crossed the line in some people's book. However, as anyone who deals with the law can tell you, the law is not broken until an action is carried out. Telling a person that you are going to cut a person's tires is not a crime until you actually take action to do so. To be complete in an investigation of this type, a second plant should be used if the subject took the bait the first time. If they bite a second time, then you know that they are likely to do so again. Typically, for security reasons, the plant does not give a legitimate telephone number. They may give a pager number and if the subject pages the plant sometime after the initial meeting, you can surmise that they have more on their mind than a casual conversation.
The idea of surveillance and undercover work is to observe and document a subject's activities without changing or altering a person's normal activities. Using a plant in a situation already described can arguably be altering a person's natural tendencies. There is definitely a place for this type of investigation, but these should only be done while considering the total picture.
 
PI OUTSOURCING
by Kelly Riddle
Kelmar and Associates, Inc.
San Antonio, TX
If you have been a PI for very long, you have encountered the problem of out-sourcing an investigation. I say problem because most of the time, that's what they become. To some degree, out-sourcing is good because you get to see what the regular client has to put up with. Before organizations like ION came along, this was more of a headache than what it was worth.
As an example, I spoke at a convention and afterwards, met an investigator who made a good appearance and was anxious to work together. Before long, one of my oldest and best client's assigned a case in the other investigator's geographic area so I passed the investigation on to my new found associate. One week went by, then two, then a month and so on without any word from the investigator. Our office telephoned, left messages, paged and still no word. Being an investigator, we conducted our own search and found the PI's married name since she used her maiden name for business and found her home telephone. Needless to say, we got the PI's attention but have still not received any information from the PI nor any new assignments from that client.
In a separate case, a client had a claimant that had moved out of state and they had found out that they would be moving to a different house the up-coming weekend. I gave the client the options of us doing it directly or being a case manager and assigning the case out. They agreed to out-source the case. I contacted a nation-wide PI firm, gave them the information, confirmed that they did surveillance and had the equipment and agreed on the costs. On the following Monday morning, I got a report indicating the PI had watched the subject move all weekend, but did not get any video or photographs and had gotten caught by the claimant. They also included a bill for a video camera rental and other items which totaled $2,000 more than the agreed upon price.
These are just a few of the many examples I have dealt with. As a PI, if you can't do the job, are over-worked, don't have the right equipment or don't have the right training, do us all a favor and admit it. You will at least get the opportunity to receive a case in your specialty later on without putting a bad taste in everyone's mouth.

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ADVANCED SURVEILLANCE
The Complete Manual Of Surveillance Training
By Peter Jenkins- 400 pages, 350 Graphics
And Photos - Many In Four Color

WORLD'S FIRST INTERACTIVE DVD
TRAINING SEMINAR ON SURVEILLANCE!
ULTMIATE SURVEILLANCE
TWO HOUR TRAINING SEMINAR ON DVD
By Gene Robertson



 PROFESSIONAL'S GUIDE TO CONDUCTING THE SURVEILLANCE
A Field Training And Legal Manual With Aids And Resources
-By Ralph Thomas

RURAL SURVEILLANCE
Guide to Gathering Evidence in Remote Areas
 by Van Ritch



TACTICAL SURVEILLANCE
THE INVESTIGATOR'S BIBLE

AN INVESTIGATOR'S GUIDE TO CONDUCTING
SURVEILLANCE OPERATIONS
By Douglas J. Hangmann

FORENSIC PHOTOGRAPHY
The Practical Methodology of Forensic
Photography, Second Edition
David R Redsicker And Peter Vallas Associates
Incorporated, New York, USA

THE ART OF SURVEILLANCE
The Professional's Guide To Conducting A Surveillance Assignment
By Kelly E. Riddle

 THE ART OF SURVEILLANCE (Training Video)
The Professional's Guide To Conducting A Surveillance Assignment
By Kelly E. Riddle
 

SECRETS OF SURVEILLANCE
The Surveillance Bible
A Professional's Guide To Tailing Subject by Vehicle, Foot, Airplane &
Public Transportation By: ACM IV Security Services

 SERIOUS SURVEILLANCE FOR THE PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR
By: Bob Bruno

 SURVEILLANCE FOR PRIVATE INVESTIGATORS
A Video Training Course By Bill Dear

 SHADOWING AND SURVEILLANCE
A Complete Guidebook- by Burt Rapp

 INSIDE SECRETS OF ESPIONAGE AND SURVEILLANCE
A 50 minute Training Video

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