1) Mini-vans with tinted glass (so you can sit in the back) are best for surveillance. Older mini-vans, like Caravans, blend in better (they're everywhere) than newer ones.
2) Stay on the vehicle's bumper when tailing in the city, and allow a car between you as a buffer in slower areas. There are too many stoplights, stop signs and traffic in the city, making it easy lose the tail.
3) Look for unique identifiers on the vehicle to make it easier to spot.
4) Verify address by looking at the mailbox for a name or peeking at the mail if it's sticking out.
5) Determine whether residence is a single or multi-family home by counting # of electric meters.
6) While tailing someone, you notice the person stopping i.e. in front of a house- you (as cover) continue past, turn into an empty driveway as if you belong there. Don't lose sight of person.
7) Take detailed notes via pen & paper or voice recorder. Write date/times, make & plate of any vehicles there, any vehicle movement, anyone showing up, etc. Good notes are crucial for yourself and for the report you give to the client. You, as a private investigator, may be asked to testify so accuracy is critical.
8) To accurately estimate the height of an individual, you can get a good idea by comparing the individual's height to that of any vehicle that they get into or out of. This will become easier with practice.
9) When running video, there will be lots of stopping and starting of the camera - create definite borders between clips by placing hand over camera at the end of each segment. Make sure a time & date stamp appears on tape (setting on camera). Always obtain a panoramic video shot of location and vehicle for video verification that the person was there.
10) Stake-outs can run several hours and occur in non-optimal situations i.e.no convenience store nearby, so keep a roll of toilet paper in your vehicle at all times
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