Most of you who have been at it a while know that there are ways to get the job done and then there are the things you can do to get the job done in a much easier and more simplistic way. With that in mind, I would like to offer up many of the tricks I have developed over the years. In the area of surveillance, being covert inside a vehicle has always posed a special problem. I refuse to use vans unless absolutely required and instead prefer SUV's as they attract less attention. In most states, you can put dark tint on all the windows except the driver and passenger door windows. I have found the perfect solution for these windows. Take a piece of newspaper, hold it against the door glass and trace the pattern. Lay the newspaper mold on Plexiglas and trace the outline. Using a utility knife and hacksaw cut the Plexiglas out. Put the dark tint on the Plexiglas and you can then roll the Plexiglas up in the window tract to hold it in place. Put a window sunscreen in the front window and you are ready to go!
Another useful tool for the serious surveillance expert is a "kill switch." You simply run a wire to the solenoid/starter and have a toggle switch in the driver's compartment. When you have a case that requires you to get close to the person and there is no where to view the subject without getting close, use the kill switch. Coast to the position you need to get to, throw the kill switch and your engine will turn over and over without actually starting. You can then get out, raise the hood and act like you have engine problems. Let the subject see you talking on the cell phone so he thinks you are calling for help. In the meantime, get back in your vehicle and shoot the video. When done, close the hood, throw the kill switch and you are on your way.
We are all using the Internet and there is a lot of sites and information out there. The question is, "which ones are the best without spending hours looking for them?" Here is a list of my favorites:
1) www.pac-info.com is a site that provides property records nationwide. In addition, they have a list of specific sites associated with each particular state.
2) www.knowx.com has minimal fees for the searches but is well worth it. I was checking on a trucking company recently to see how many lawsuits they had. I checked nationwide and found 187 on file instantly. You can do state specific searches or national searches. Some of the searches include property, judgments, liens, bankruptcy, DEA registrations and much more.
3) www.iqdata.com is another site that offers social security traces, department of motor vehicle records, property and much more. Again, the small fees are well worth the money.
4) www.memphisdailynews.com provides access to state wide criminal searches in 22 states for $3.00 each.
Remember that any information you get off the Internet is an unconfirmed source until you verify the information with a second known source. One other useful tool is available on my web site (www.kelmarpi.com) free of charge and is more than 110 pages of links to web sites and is accessed by topic (boat, bankruptcy, criminal history...). Click on "record search" and then on "Internet on Demand" and download the information!
A search that many people do not seem to know about or utilize involves the police department. Most agencies allow the public to request a "name survey" or an "address survey." You give them the name or the address and they provide every call associated with the name or address. I have found subjects that I couldn't find any other way because they got into a small accident in a private parking lot and it wasn't in any other record.
I often get asked to locate insurance because someone was in an accident and the other party didn't have insurance. Run their license plate and check to see who holds the lien on the vehicle. Contact them and they will usually provide the information. You can also do a check for prior accidents. Chances are whatever insurance company they listed on a previous report will still be their current insurance company.