Insight Investigation Services

                                     Chicago, Illinois

About Surveillance


You are trying to hire a Private Investigator (PI) for a surveillance assignment and we want you, the client, to know what to expect.

What is surveillance? It is monitoring of the activities of a subject without their knowledge in order to find out what they are doing. Video recordings and digital photographs are often employed to provide evidence of the activities of the subject. (In Illinois, audio recordings are not generally obtained because state law requires the consent of all parties to the conversation before a recording can be made. The violation of this law is a felony.)

In a business surveillance the client wants to protect his or her business interests and verify the professional and confidential integrity of an employee. Perhaps the client/employer is concerned that the subject is fraternizing with a competitor and sharing confidential trade or business information. Perhaps the client/employer is concerned that the subject is a key employee who is looking for a new job and the loss of this employee could affect the company’s business reputation and outlook. In any event, the surveillance investigator will follow the employee to determine his or her contacts and business destinations.

In domestic surveillances the investigator and client are trying to find the subject doing something that he/she should not be doing, such as having an undisclosed relationship with a third party.

In a worker’s compensation surveillance the investigator is trying to observe and record the subject engaged in a physical activity that he/she should not be able to perform with their reported injury.

In criminal or misconduct activity surveillance the investigator is trying to observe and record the subject engaging in criminal conduct or policy/regulatory misconduct.

Most surveillance investigations are either stationary, in which the investigator is observing a fixed location from concealment, or mobile, in which the investigator will follow the subject who is walking or driving about.

Everyone has seen surveillances shown on television programs such as Magnum PI, in which the fictional investigator followed subjects – right on their bumper at high speed in dense traffic – in his red convertible (top down), wearing a brightly colored Hawaiian shirt.

And Magnum was never “burned,” that is, observed by the subject he was tailing. Of course not – it is a television program and not a real life surveillance.

But imagine the difficulty of following someone in heavy city traffic without being seen by the subject, who can be suspicious and looking for someone following them. Think about the challenge of flowing them closely, but not close enough to arouse their suspicion, yet not being so far back that you lose sight of the subject. With other vehicles cutting in and out of traffic. In rainy or snowy conditions.

Keep in mind that a private investigator must obey all traffic laws and avoid accidents. Public safety is paramount.

So, if the subject goes through an intersection on a yellow light and the investigator gets the red light, the subject is lost.

Similarly, if the subject vehicle makes a right turn on red into traffic, it can take several seconds for the investigator make the turn. Again, the subject will be lost.

One way – the best way – to decrease the chance of losing the subject, but not completely eliminate it, is to use several investigators in several vehicles. In that way the investigators can switch off on their pursuits, one staying ahead of the subject to pick up the surveillance in case investigator behind the subject gets stuck at a traffic signal or stop sign.

But, of course, the more investigators and vehicles that are involved, the higher the cost for the client. However, using multiple surveillance investigators could actually SAVE MONEY because the results are obtained the first time, if the subject vehicle isn’t lost, and perhaps the second investigator can be provided at a discounted rate, depending on the agency and the contract.

Another surveillance strategy that can sometimes assist in tracking the subject is to place a GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) tracking device on the subject vehicle. However, federal, state, and local laws may prohibit the use of GPS trackers, so the availability of this technique will depend upon your location, relationship to the subject, ownership status of the subject vehicle, and other factors.

In the event that a surveillance investigator loses track of the subject,  the PI may try to re-acquire the subject by checking known locations, such as home, work, etc., or try to search the area where last seen.

If the subject cannot be re-acquired, then the investigator could return to where the surveillance began and wait for the subject to return. Or the PI can discontinue and re-initiate the investigation at another time.

It is important for clients to note, however, that the client is paying for the surveillance investigator’s time, mileage, and expenses – even if the surveillance was unsuccessful. The investigator’s fee is not based on results because as shown above, no result can be guaranteed.

What is guaranteed is that you will receive the highest level of professional service from Insight Investigation Services, LLC, and that we will use every legal means to obtain the information that YOU REALLY NEED TO KNOW!



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