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Private Investigator Surveillance Techniques (2022)

Updated: Jan 26

Surveillance is the close observation of a person, place, or object in order to gather information. Surveillance is one of the most effective and often-used tools in a private investigator's tool belt and can result in invaluable information that can be used in subsequent criminal investigations or legal proceedings.

Private investigators frequently use surveillance tactics, like following the person around, to determine whether or not they actually are cheating. They may also search social media activity and use software tools to uncover records that could point to cheating — like hidden assets.


Most pre-marital and divorce investigations will require surveillance. To conduct a successful surveillance operation, a private investigator must be competent and have the knowledge in operating the latest evidence-gathering equipment. Techniques and skills are equally important regardless of the reason for the Surveillance. A trained private investigator is experienced in observing the subject and obtaining critical evidence for divorce proceedings.


To conduct a cost-effective surveillance operation, private investigators need to carefully plan the times of the surveillance. This is to avoid wasting client money or too lengthy surveillance will result in being seen by the subject. Before a private investigator starts the surveillance operation it is important to discuss with the client the schedule of the subject. Normally surveillance is kept at 8 to 10 hours. Any surveillance conducted for longer than 10 hours must be replaced by a new team. This is to avoid being detected by the subject.


Night surveillance is very common for divorce investigations. A private investigator must be ready to use night vision video to capture that critical evidence. Evidence of subject and co subject entering and leaving a place such as a hotel or an apartment.


The skills and experience of a private investigator play an important role in the success of the surveillance. The private investigator must be able to read the ground situation and react accordingly.

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