Do you notify the local police when you conduct surveillance?

Should you notify local law enforcement when you are doing a surveillance in their jurisdiction?

You might want to notify them if you’re going to be in a particularly dangerous neighborhood and you want them to know you’re there in case there’s trouble.

Or maybe you’re doing a stake-out in a particularly nice area and you know the cops are probably going to get a call on a strange vehicle in the area.

Of course you might not want to let the police know you’re doing a surveillance if you’re concerned that a board officer will drive around to see what’s going on. I’ve had it happen. And it completely killed the marijuana smoking party on the front porch I was video recording! (At least I had already gotten enough for my client to win the case.)

In some jurisdictions you are required by law to notify the local P.D. when you’re on surveillance.

What’s your feel on this? If you’re in the investigative business, do you notify the cops? If your thinking about this line of work, I would love to hear your perspective too!

Movie Myth Busted

Let me bust a movie and T.V. myth…

Cops don’t tip Private Investigators information.

In most places this is illegal anyway, but here’s a better reason…

No smart police officer wants to leave a “digital footprint” that he (or she) has run a search in a database. That footprint never goes away.

Internal Affairs (or any investigator or IT person assigned to look into a given search) will always be able to tell who’s log-in was used to run a search.

Okay, sneaky guy, I know what you’re thinking…

What if they use someone else’s log-in to run the search. Two big problems…

1.The searcher would be jamming up the guy who’s log-in he used! What a cowardly thing to do!

2.That log-in is not the only clue as to who ran the search. A good investigator will look at who was “on the clock” when the search was run, who’s key card was being used in the building at the time, who’s on video in the building at the time, etc., etc., etc.!

So, cops don’t tip info to Private Detectives.

But, here is the truly interesting thing. Cop’s HIRE Private Investigators when they need information covertly! Why? Because any digital footprint traces back to the P.I. And not to the cop.

Now, I’m not talking about doing anything against the law here. Quite the opposite! Think about it…

If a police officer runs a license plate through one of his databases and it’s for his personal use – that’s at least a violation of department policy and maybe even a crime. But if a P.I. runs the same license plate check legally then everyone is in the clear and the client (officer) remains confidential and protected.

Of course this applies to all kinds of checks, not just license plates. For example: criminal histories, addresses, phone numbers, known associates, etc.

Check back often for more real-world information like this.

5 Don’ts for Surveillance.

Here are five tips on things to avoid when you do surveillance on an infidelity case, workers compensation case, insurance fraud, bounty hunter, process server, repo agent or any case where you actually have to go out into the real world!

BTW, did you know these little online videos I post are nothing compare to the COMPLETE surveillance training on The Investigator’s Ultimate Guide to Surveillance?

First of all, The Guide is a two DVD set with over two hours of training and it’s in HD. Plus it has a lot of real world case footage.

Also we shot a lot of it on the streets too help illustrate points and make it more interesting for you to watch and learn from.

I’m just sayin’.

Check it out.

Recon Before Surveillance

Many Private Investigators look at a map and maybe use some online ariel view to plan their surveillance work – and that’s fine. Use the tools you have! But…

For recognizance, nothing replaces going out there ahead of time and driving it.

On The Investigator’s Ultimate Guide to Surveillance, I tell the story of a private detective agency that worked the exact same case at the exact same time as me. I got ALL the information by following the subject and the other agency got nada! On the training DVDs, I share why we were both out there, but for now you just gotta’ know, the reason I was successful and they failed was – I did the recon and they didn’t.

Maps and overhead images don’t show you everything that’s important. Like vegetation and landscaping that’s overgrown and that blocks your view from that “perfect” surveillance spot you chose while sitting comfortably with your computer at home.

Also, since a lot of your stake-outs and even mobile surveillance will start before dawn, make sure you consider the glare of the rising sun when you pick your surveillance spot.

Finally, make sure you have a back-up spot selected in case the morning you get out there to work your case something has changed. Like a big truck parked blocking the view from your primary spot.

I’m just sayin’.

Please feel free to comment.