26 Jan 2015
January 26, 2015

Surveillance – Looking Past the Obvious

In today’s vernacular “surveillance” has been described as the monitoring of behaviour or activities, usually of people and often in a surreptitious way.

The Science of Surveillance

Surveillance has become a science when it comes to technology. The use of high
definition digital equipment including cameras, recording devices and a plethora of highly sophisticated software / hardware has made the “big brother” concept from George Orwell’s classic book Nineteen Eighty Four a reality. Although this Orwellian prophesy appears to have come to fruition we will be examining surveil- lance on a slightly less grand scale and discuss how the various surveillance services offered by Integra and other large private investigation agencies use powerful tools on behalf of their clientele.

In the corporate and commercial world we all have our “skills” or “tools” that allow us to perform our jobs and earn a living. Regardless of the profession or the skill level we generally have been taught that skill at a post secondary institution or through on the job training. Through work and personal experience we have honed those tools to be proficient in our abilities. This is very much the case for a Surveillance Investigator.

Currently, Integra uses many surveillance techniques and strategies to solve a variety of problems for our clients. The indisputable validity of surveillance evidence that professionally trained investigators can provide usually results in a fast, concrete resolution in favour of our clients. Some of the many corporate / commercial and insurance “issues” that Integra has been called upon to solve include but are not limited to internal and external theft, human resource / competition, disability claims, workplace and drug problems as well as personal or domestic conflicts. Our highly skilled and trained surveillance investigators have used both their considerable experience and state of the art surveillance equipment to solve many potentially devastating problems for our clients.

Sight Unseen

Surveillance is a powerful tool in the arsenal of a properly trained private investigator. To understand the importance of this tool we need to look past the stereotypical misconception that has been created by a combination of Hollywood hyperbole, pulp fiction and urban legend. Today’s professional surveillance investigator is a highly trained and motivated individual that is single-minded in providing visual evidence that will corroborate a legal position on behalf of a client. At Integra, we have found that the best Corporate Commercial Surveillance Investigator is a multifaceted person who, through a combination of curiosity, guile, patience, aggressiveness, passion, focus, and most importantly – common sense has the natural ability to produce effective results under very stressful situations. Some of these traits can be taught through in-depth training at seminars or schools but many can only be acquired through life or work experience. The dedicated surveillance investigator is always seeking to improve through additional training, guidance and
assistance. With the integrity of the investigation top-of-mind the successful surveillance investigator is “driven” to succeed and can blend into any environment or situation to gather information or evidence. The ability to think quickly on their feet and adjust to the ever-changing landscape that an investigation may take them is an invaluable asset especially a surveillance specialist. Their tenacious “dog on bone” determination keeps them focused on gathering information regardless of the obstacles that may stand in their way or the number of times that they need to repeat an exercise.

The professional surveillance investigator must be able to perform the tasks mentioned above but they also require additional skills to be able to deliver their findings in a meaningful, concise manner that will stand up in a court of law. A good surveillance investigator must be technically proficient, possess good writing skills and be able to verbally communicate with individuals on a number of different levels.

Surveillance Classifications and Cost

There are a number of classifications of surveillance investigators and they each have a different cost range associated with their skill set. The least expensive surveillance specialist is the retail floor walker or store detective who must be able to take detailed notes, be able to interact with both customers and store staff, have a basic understanding of retail auditing systems and be familiar with the use of one-way mirrors, observation vents and other such devices.

Next, Mobile and Tactical Surveillance is generally more expensive, especially if there is a need to deploy more than one operative, which is often the case. This operative must have superior driving skills, be able to conduct both foot and stationary surveillance and be able to conceal themselves in a crowd when necessary. They must be very aggressive, be able to make quick decisions, be goal oriented and have excellent com- munication skills. To top it off, the successful Mobile and Tactical Investigator must possess exceptional evidence gathering abilities and have excellent descriptive and writing skills. When working in a team situation the Mobile and Tactical Investigator must possess the above-mentioned skills but must also have advanced surveillance and communication skills acquired through specialized team surveillance training.

The undercover operative is paid an hourly rate to perform their specific role in an investigation and must have the following skills: the ability to blend into and interact with a variety of socio-economic groups, be a quick learner, patient, focused, detail oriented and possess superior reporting skills.

Video surveillance is a specialty that may or may not require covert installation of specialized photographic or video equipment and as a result has a variable cost associated with it dependent on the assignment.

Lastly, Aerial surveillance is the most expensive for obvious reasons. All of the above listed classifications do not include expenses so please allow for that contingency. If you require a complete cost quote for a project please feel free to contact Integra for a competitive estimate.

The Power of Observation

So, as you can see, pun intended that the properly trained and equipped surveillance investigator has a broad spectrum of skills and when combined with years of on the job experience can bring new meaning to the term “Powers of Observation”. If and when the need arises for a private investigator don’t overlook or take for granted that every investigative agency has an experienced, well trained, and properly equipped surveillance specialist on staff. Many don’t. The cost to train and outfit surveillance staff with the latest in audio and video equipment is very high but is a necessity when it comes to providing clients with the best possible results in an investigation. Hopefully, this article has provided some insights into the world of a surveillance investigator and also what criteria you should look for when searching for the “right” private investigator.