Stop Lights can be a major pain for a private investigator during mobile surveillance. They, however, can also be an equally great ally in the correct situation. For instance if you are following a subject that is a “Gun it and Go” driver those pesky stop lights help you not have to stick out as much if you know the next light will be red before he gets there. Thus you can drive normally just maintaining visual contact and keep as few vehicles as you can between you and your subject.
One of the hardest things to do in surveillance is maintain visual contact and not lose the person without being so close that you get made. Many times I like to have a car or two between myself and my subject and I like to drive in a lane next to my subject’s lane so my “mug” is not in his rear view mirror every time he stops. The problem that happens far too frequently however is the light turns yellow, the subject floors it, and the guy in front of me slams on his brakes. Now WHAT?
One quick method to help remedy the situation is the old right / left / right scenario. As I approach the light and see my subject going through and I know I have no chance to make it without blowing the light red and swerving around someone, I quickly make a right hand turn when it is safe to do so, go down a short distance and make a left into a parking lot or even a residential driveway, turn around or back out and then make the next right and continue the pursuit. In many cases I can also make a u turn (Only if it is legal and safe) instead of the left into a driveway. Then I can make another right hand turn at the green light going the other direction and I am right back behind the subject at some point.
Here is a technique that works in many mobile surveillance cases that will not allow this type of situation to occur. If I know the road I can easily speed up a little as we approach traffic signals and stop signs so I close the gap on my subject. I then slow down as we go through longer stretches to ensure I am not always right on his tail. This of course takes practice, and utilizing a second lane helps greatly with this when possible.
Well, that is it for those pesky traffic lights. Hope you have enjoyed this article. If you are another PI I hope it helps, and please be careful out there. Our next series in “Mobile Surveillance – One Investigators View Point” will cover heavy traffic conditions.
~ 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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