5 Things NOT To Do On Surveillance

Private Investigator Surveillance

5 Things NOT To Do On Surveillance

Anyone who does surveillance has been burned at some point. I have been burned, thrown under the bus, and nearly arrested for mistakes in surveillance. So I want to be clear that I understand that surveillance work is difficult, and the potential for being identified as a PI is always there. That said, the buffoons who’ve been following our team are particularly inept at the job. Here’s what they did wrong, and what you (and we all) should avoid doing:

1. Look like a PI stereotype.

Cleanup in Aisle 2! If you wear 5.11 tactical pants while on surveillance, you should look for other work. Seriously? And the matching 5.11 tactical boots? Really? Now I will say that the ever-so-subtle “dry-fit” sports shirt you somehow stretched over that generous gut almost fooled me. But then you went and blew it with the whole special-operator-sunglasses-black-5.11 (seriously?) baseball-cap look. “What? Don’t notice me, I’m just examining this kumquat…intensely.” When you’re following two people and they split up, maybe check your six before scampering down aisle 8 (jams, jellies, nut-butters, and dressings), all Jonathan Ames-like, crouching down comically to peek around the corner chasing A…while B is waltzing up from behind to ask you which is the best brand of almond butter.

2. Wear the same outfit in several places.

If you do surveillance work and you have no change of clothes, you should look for other work. And the 5.11 I-wish-I-coulda-been-a-special-operator-but-the-whole-morbid-obesety-thing-got-in-the-way look shouldn’t be one of them. I can seeee youuuuu! When you get burned at Whole Foods, it’s probably best to move on and let another investigator pick up the eyeball. But if you have to work it yourself (which sometimes happens), maybe, just maybe, consider at least a costume change. Because the GI Joe look that failed in the health-food market isn’t working any better at the tapas bar in the hipster part of town.

3. Get really close to your subject. I mean really close.

If you feel the compunction to get so close to your subject that he can smell you, you might want to look for another line of work. And if one of your subjects has asked you, earlier that day, which variety of almond butter you prefer, it might be best not to plop down next to him on a barstool a few hours later. The fact that the shoot-me-first-I’m-an-ex-cop-5.11-tactical-pants you insist on wearing are tan doesn’t make you any less conspicuous.

4. Park directly in front of the subject’s house.

If you insist on parking your nondescript-limo-dark-custom-SUV with its array of antennae directly in front of your mark’s house, you need to quit this business. I got nothing. This actually happened, and I’ve got nothing.

5. Keep coming back for more.

If you are somehow convinced that you are invisible, leave this profession. Please, just quit. After you’ve been burned, bring in another guy. After you’ve been spotted five times in one week, bring in another gal. After your subject walks up to you in Whole Foods and asks you which organic almond butter you like best, it’s time to go home.

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