Private investigation is a small, but exhilarating, industry. It is currently estimated that there are only 60,000 private investigators employed in the United States. This may seem shocking to you, but there are only so many people qualified for the job.
If you’re looking to get into a P.I. work, you need to know the tricks of the trade, because this business can eat you alive if you’re not ready.
Most of the job consists of surveillance, so be a good P.I. you need to know how to successfully operate a stakeout. These 5 tips will help you do just that.
1. Get a Nondescript Surveillance Vehicle :
The worst thing a P.I. can do is get caught snooping. So if you’re contracted to monitor a target, you better make sure the vehicle you’re driving is completely inconspicuous. You need to select a car (with heavily tinted windows) that falls somewhere between a Dodge Viper and a plain-colored Crown Vic.
The former is too flashy and the latter is so stereotypical that it would also arouse suspicion. So think of picking a car like a Honda Civic or Toyota Camry.
2. Pre-Surveillance Sweep :
Any successful surveillance mission requires planning. This is why you should always do a pre-surveillance sweep of the location of the stakeout so you can identify potential problems and pick your hiding place.
There is simply no room for error during a surveillance assignment.
3. Stick to the Facts :
In the report you’ll return to the client, you should only report the facts and not inject your own commentary. For example, if you’re spying on a client’s wife to see if she’s cheating, you don’t want to comment on how attractive the mystery man coming out of their looks.
It’s inconsequential to the act itself and will only upset the client. Whether you’re dealing with an affair or a fraud case, always stick to the facts.
4. Leave Distractions at Home :
Let’s face it: stakeouts are usually pretty boring. You’re typically sitting in a hot a car for hours waiting for something to happen, and often nothing does.
It may be tempting to bring a book or putz around on your cell phone, but they’ll only distract you from your main mission. You may miss your one opportunity to snap that incriminating photo if you’ve got your head buried Moby Dick.
5. Keep an Appropriate Distance :
When tailing a moving target in a vehicle, it’s important to keep an appropriate distance. You don’t want to be so close that you’ll be spotted, and you don’t want to be so far away that you risk losing sight of them.
How far away you should from your target depends on the context. If you’re a San Francisco Private Investigator, you’ll want to stick close to them while driving through those busy streets. If you’re in Alabama on a back road, however, you’ll want to keep a larger distance because you’ll be easier to spot.
Want More Help with Your Private Investigation Business?
If implemented correctly, these private investigation tips should make every surveillance assignment successful.
If you’d like more help with the business side of your P.I. work, consider check out the Entrepreneurship section of our site.
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