I often get asked a lot of questions about my career as a Private Investigator here in Colorado. Many times the question is something like “What is the hardest part about doing surveillance?” While I do a great variety of investigations including surveillance, accident investigations, witness interviews, missing person locates, and even counter surveillance I believe mobile surveillance is one of the toughest challenges as a PI.
A private investigator in the field is under a lot of stress in many scenarios, but during mobile surveillance the pressure increases exponentially. The investigator has to keep a wide variety of factors in mind at the same time his/her brain is spinning out of control with thoughts such as “I can’t lose this guy”, “My client won’t be happy if I get made again” etc. Dealing with the emotional end of those business thoughts is fairly easy to deal with if you are well trained, experienced and prepared. I always keep in the back of my mind that I will do what I can with the safety of the public in mind first, the security of the case (not getting made) second and the actual pursuit third.
That is correct I keep the actual duty of following my subject as a third priority. By giving safety of the public and integrity to the case my top priorities I am more able to provide the highest quality service my clients have come to expect. Nothing ends a case quicker than getting made by your target, or worse, getting into an auto accident or pulled over by law enforcement. And nothing gets you made quicker than not following general safety rules.
Pay close attention the next time you drive to what you take notice of. Is it the hundreds of safe drivers out there just going from point A to point B or is it the guy running the red light, speeding away it when it turns green, and cutting off traffic as if life is dependent on his own personal mission. Erratic driving, disregard for law and unsafe practices will get you made quicker than trying to tail someone in a yellow Corvette.
That said, let’s look at some of the more challenging and almost daily obstacles we occur while conducting mobile surveillance as Private Investigators. The first is the growing popularity of Car Pool or HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes. These lanes are usually designated for vehicles with 2 or more occupants. Most Car Pool lanes here in Colorado now allow you to use them even if you only have a single individual in the vehicle, for a fee, and you get a bill in the mail. I have no idea how that technology works but it does quite well.
So when your subject and his wife hop in the HOV lane you can continue to follow them. BUT, there are risks involved here. Having one individual in the car pool lane does make you stand out from the rest of the crowd. Also, there are fewer vehicles in these lanes so you are now more noticeable to your subject. Whenever possible, if I know the road ways and can predict with a fair amount of certainty that traffic will not get me bound up, I will stay in the regular lane closest to the HOV lane and keep an eye on the subjects vehicle from there; ensuring that I leave enough room and time for him to merge back on at each entrance.
If I have to get in the car pool lane with them I try to keep a good distance between us with at least one car between us if possible. The good thing about these lanes is that you generally know where they are going and you can’t get off every mile like the frequent off ramps on a regular highway or freeway. So your subject is somewhat trapped.
Make sure you are close enough when the subject does exit to keep visual contact as well many times the subject may exit off the HOV lane and then take the next exit off the main highway. If you are not prepared and do not know the route, you could easily lose your subject in this type of situation.
Our next edition of this mini series “Mobile Surveillance – One Investigators View Point” will be on navigating those pesky stop lights during surveillance. I hope you have enjoyed this portion, see you next time.
~ John L. Morris
A Northern Colorado, licensed and insured, Greeley Private Investigator
Call today for your 100% FREE Private Investigator Consultation (970) 673-5719
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