If you’ve ever done surveillance, many times it’s not the Subject who ends up burning you – it’s the neighbors.
In this post, let’s talk about:
Legal disclaimer. Never construe anything I say to be legal advice. I’m not a lawyer. Also, personal disclaimer: you don’t have to believe a damn word I say. You should have your own opinions on how to conduct surveillance and never rely on mine.
Surveillance is an art form.
And I’ll back up anyone who copies or steals my ideas. Go for it!
But start to develop your way of doing things.
I made these posts and videos for my investigators, the ones who work for me. It’s training for them. But if you gather any value, knowledge, or like the content, keep reading.
You’re out on surveillance, parked in a perfect spot, staking out your Subject. You’re in a tinted-out vehicle, maybe sitting in the back, maybe in the front. But you’re parked in front of one of your Subject’s neighbor’s houses. After a few hours, a resident runs out of the house and knocks on your window.
Pop quiz, hotshot. What do you do??!?
Well, it’s easy to get hostile. The neighbor might already be that way. But, I’m of the mind to never get confrontational or power-hungry with neighbors. Again,
You get more flies with honey, not vinegar.
As we’ve said in previous posts and videos about notifying the police, be cordial and respectful. With neighbors though, the goal is to use some “verbal judo” on them. Use a ruse or guise, to get them to go away and leave them thinking nothing of it.
But, be nice and respectful. Avoid saying “mind your own business,” because you know they won’t. It’s their neighborhood after all, and magnifying things could lead down a bad road. The exact pretense can be up to you. There are countless ones you could use.
First…never impersonate an officer of the law. This should be in all of your licensing bylaws as it is. We in OH and KY cannot carry a badge, because a person could interpret it as a police badge.
Successful (and legal) Pretexts
In rural areas, I’ll say I’m a contractor for a trucking company. With an “official” clipboard in hand, I’ll look the neighbor straight in the eye, and say I’ve been hired to look for semis that have used this route against our company policy. We’re getting noise complaints from ones using their engine brake. And then ask the neighbor if they’ve heard any loud semis.
Putting the question back on them takes them by surprise. You’ll not only see people believe the ruse but say that they’ve heard loud engines before – chances are they actually have. People want to believe and if you appear harmless, they’ll tend to agree. Then assure them that the police know you’re in the area and you should be there the whole day and a few days in the future
In other situations, I’ll say I’m a private investigator, but never let on exactly what I’m doing.
I’ll change the story up and say it’s a confidential matter but the term we use is it’s a domestic case. Make sure they don’t think it’s their next-door neighbors, but someone way a few blocks away and they might pass by this spot. Let them fill in the blanks with their imagination on who it is. A lot of times they’ll play detective themselves and think it’s such and such who had an affair years ago…
Again, assure them, the cops know you’re there, and there’s no need for alarm.
A big key is to be ready for any situation. A dead giveaway is if you start stuttering over your words and avoiding eye contact.
Make the story believable.
Additionally, park on public property. I’ve had two cops allude to criminal trespassing charges because I was on private property.
But I’ll always park on the public street or the easement and never on private property unless I can help it.
The last thing we want is to get the whole neighborhood heated up and then let on to the Subject. We’ve all heard horror stories with the Next Door app or your neighborhood’s Facebook group.
And with these pretexts, use your creativity here… come up with something unique to the situation and have it ready. If I’m in a construction area or downtown, I’ll get a hard hat and safety vest. Put it in the front window. There’s always construction going on downtown. You’ll fit in.
Play the part. Have a little fun with it.
What ways can you play the part?
What pretexts have worked for you?
Comment below and let me know.
I’m a private investigator and I need a new car.
But, I hate car shopping.
So, I asked my fellow bloggers and auto junkies at Jalopnik, “What Car Should I Buy?”
It’s a weekly segment they do: these dudes (NOT SALESMEN) help REAL people find ACTUAL vehicles for sale.
And then they hilariously write about it.
Check out their advice for me.
“Adam is a private investigator who spends hours behind the wheel getting the scoop and tracking bad guys. He needs a ride that is good for work and family, something that can blend in but still looks professional. What car should he buy?
Unlike Magnum P.I., Adam doesn’t work in Hawaii, and for him to nab the bad guys, stealth, patience, and diligence are key. Therefore, he needs one that he can spend a lot of time in, but won’t be noticed easily.
Here is the scenario:
I’m a private investigator and business owner who needs both a surveillance vehicle for tracking down bad guys out in the field, but one that also doubles as respectable business owner’s ride for when I pull up to sales calls and client meetings. My current SUV (a 2006 GMC Envoy Denali) is at 200,000 miles and like any one at that mileage, needs to be replaced.
I’ve got a budget of about $20,000 and the biggest thing is this car must be unremarkable. It’s got to blend in. No sports cars, nothing weird or funky. Also, in addition to hauling my gear, I use the car to tote my family around to events and such so it needs to be practical as well.”
Tell me which one I should BUY in the COMMENTS below!!
Click here to read the full story: http://jalopnik.com/im-a-private-eye-looking-for-a-stealthy-ride-for-20-00-1793549299
Which one should I buy? Reply in the comments!
When you get asked what you do for a living, do you answer with an elevator pitch?
Ahhh, the old elevator pitch. You know, that quick spiel describing what you do, for whom you do it, and how it is valuable to others. We’ve all got one, right?
But, when I tell someone what I do, it had better be a long elevator ride. Because, with only 30 seconds, it is nearly impossible to list everything I can do for my clients. Every private investigator has this same problem.
That’s why I put together a list of 100+ things that a private investigator can do for you. Each one is valuable. For now, it’s the best elevator pitch we have. Read more
Learning from failure. If you go to the recovery room at the hospital, you’ll see a lot more people with gunshot wounds in their legs than in their chests. But that’s not because people don’t get shot in the chest; it’s because the people who get shot in the chest don’t recover.
As private investigators and business owners, there’s an important parallel: Autopsies done on the patients who made it back to the ER aren’t worth as much as those who never made it back. Likewise, learning from successful companies may not be as important as learning from failed private investigator firms. Understanding what fatal mistakes led to the failure is as important, if not more, than what made successful companies great.
So, what are those mistakes? How did specific PI companies go out of business? And more importantly, what can we learn from those mistakes?
For valuable insight on this topic, we polled private investigators from across the nation for insight into how their colleagues had failed, or, how they had failed and learned. Nearly a dozen PIs chimed in to help. And, though the resulting stories may be grim, they are telling.
Here are some of the insights they shared, along with a few of my own:
Let’s face it, keeping up with technology is tough. It’s a part-time job just trying to follow the latest iPhone updates let alone browser extensions. Lost in the shuffle of the endless barrage of new gadgets is our anonymity, and sometimes, our privacy. Nowadays, every click or page view is systematically monitored. Worse, we don’t even know it’s happening.
So, what can the average person do?
For starters, you can stay ahead of the game by understanding the array of tools out there and what they do.
We all have a web browser; there are multiple versions available like Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, etc (or god forbid, Internet Explorer) that help you access the internet. Browser extensions are downloadable attachments that increase the functionality of your web browser. Simply put, extensions improve your internet experience. But they can also stop spies from accessing your personal information.
With so many gizmos out there this post is far from comprehensive, but we went ahead and collected a few tools you can install today, for free. Here are ten browser extensions that will heighten your counterespionage awareness:
Online Profile Resources
- Rapportive is a browser plugin that allows you to view LinkedIn profiles right in Gmail. It gives you a profile picture, social media info, job title, mutual connections – all alongside your inbox.
Picture Resource Extensions
2. Google Image Search and TinEye are reverse image searching plugins. Crucial for when you need to know if a profile picture is fake, especially if you suspect you’re being Catfished. Simply right-click on a picture to see if it’s been used elsewhere.
3. PictureMate helps you find hidden pictures on Facebook (and you don’t even have to be friends). This extension pulls pictures from Facebook friends in which the person you’re viewing has been tagged.
Email Tracking Extensions
There are handfuls of email tracking services out there; some attached to customer relations management (CRM) software and others are simpler. But for the most part, they all do the same thing: track when, where, and with what device you’ve opened an email. Here are several examples:
4. HubSpot Sales (formerly Sidekick) gives you desktop notifications when the emails you send get opened or clicked in real time.
5. Bananatag sends notifications to Gmail when a contact opens your email or clicks a link.
6. MailTrack tells you who opens your emails with a double green “read” checkmark.
7. Yesware lets you check email open and reply rates, link clicks, attachment opens and presentation pageviews.
8. Streak notifies you when your emails get read, when, and how many times your email was opened.
Email Tracking Countermeasures
9. UglyEmail is a Gmail extension to check if your email is being tracked. Every tracked email is marked with the “evil eye” so you can easily identify them.
10. PixelBlock is a Gmail extension that blocks email tracking attempts used to detect when you open/read emails. PixelBlock displays a ‘red eye’ when it finds and blocks a tracking attempt inside of an email you’re reading.
Now that you understand what’s out there and how users of tools like these can track your email habits, online profiles, and hidden info – be careful. The next step is to check the privacy settings of your various profiles, better manage your online information, and institute strict email practices.
What tools do you use to stop people from unnecessarily invading your privacy? Share a tip in the comments below.