Surveillance & Drone Services
Dave Ollivier and his team are experts in disguise and undercover surveillance. Through smart, tenacious persistence and by using the latest technologies, they have provided their clients with high quality, effective surveillance video and photography for a variety of circumstances.
A significant “jump” occurs when authorized surveillance time is extended from one to two days. This is primarily because the first day of surveillance for an investigator tends to be dedicated to “homework”.
This homework is conducted on a wide variety of aspects and details, including, but not limited to, the neighborhood layout, set-up, observing and identifying motor vehicles associated to the subject’s household, or understanding the ‘comings and goings’ of all of the residents of the home, particularly when similarly aged relatives of the same gender occupy the same residence.
In the case of a Two-Day allowance, this normally leaves one full day to be purely dedicated to surveillance and the chances of obtaining video on the subject increase drastically.
LOOK, LISTEN, FOLLOW: The Fundamentals of PI Surveillance
Surveillance is the bread and butter work for most PI’s working all types of different cases, from missing persons to the cheating spouse, to determining if a parent is fit to have custody of a child or visitation rights to proving marital infidelity.
It’s all about the close and detailed observation of a person, place or thing to gather facts and evidence that can be used to build a case-whether this means watching a store front that has been repeatedly burglarized, or watching a person who has an insurance claim in for a leg injury to see if they miraculously get up and start running around.
In virtually every case technology now plays a major role in getting the job done by enhancing the ability for a PI to gather and document information that tells the story of a crime, fraud or transgression.
Out on the streets, the time tested approach to getting eyes on the subject and gathering evidence is still very much in play. The basic approach to surveillance has remained the same for decades-
LOOK. LISTEN. FOLLOW
Social Media- How People Often Hand Over Evidence to PI’s
The most important piece of surveillance technology that PI’s use is the humble laptop computer.
That’s because all seasoned PI’s know that the key to most successful surveillance jobs is actually the “pre-surveillance” work: like getting the correct address for the subject’s home or business, make and model of car, and any hints or tips about the subject’s daily activities and destinations….do they belong to a bowling league? Or have kids that play on a soccer team?
An hour spent surfing on social media and checking Street View on Google Maps can reveal enough intel to get a case off the ground, and often enough to even begin compiling a body of evidence.
Video Surveillance and Documentation
The most basic technology used on almost every surveillance job is the tried and tested digital video camera. Modern camcorders are small and easily concealable but hold tens of hours of footage, have incredible battery life, and amazing zoom capabilities.
Nothing can deliver the kind of clear visual proof an HD picture can, and a clear picture will almost always stand up as evidence in court. Automatic timestamps also eliminate the need for a lot of writing notes.
Like any business, PI work is all about giving clients what they’re after. The convenience of digital formats is a big deal for getting the evidence in the hands of the client quickly.
But sometimes you do need something a little more high tech than dad’s HandyCam. Hauling out your camcorder in a restaurant or office building is going to do nothing but tip off your target and blow your cover.
In those cases, a micro camera makes a lot of sense. You can get them disguised as buttons, bluetooth headsets, or tiny little flexible fiber optic stalks, and can conceal them almost anywhere.
And smartphones, of course, now provide high-quality video and pictures and are completely ubiquitous. No one is going to blink twice if you pull your smartphone out in public in situations where regular cameras are sure to attract unwanted attention.
There are also situations where maximum zoom is the only way to get eyes on an isolated subject. SLRs with a fat zoom lens parked on the nose are still the best way to get those crisp, clear, long-distance shots of the subject of your investigation.
Tripods are a simple and effective accessory. New miniature models made of flexible material are perfect for propping a camera up on a dashboard for hours of coverage or twisting around a railing or light post for a steady platform.
Fixed video, in the form of security cameras or “pole cams” can also be useful when surveilling fixed locations. Although rarely concealed, these cameras are often rarely noticed. This basic technology still holds up when it comes to monitoring public spaces or a business that has granted permission.
Eavesdropping and Gathering Audio Evidence
There are also circumstances where audio recording is the only way to get the evidence you need. You have to be careful with audio surveillance because in some states, all parties being recorded must be informed and grant consent. Violate that rule and you will be the one on the hot seat when the case is over.
You also have to be careful about this rule even when performing video surveillance—video recorders record audio by default, and while you will often be so far away that it isn’t an issue, in some cases the mic could inadvertently catch the subject speaking. If you’re conducting an investigation in a state with strict two-party audio recording consent laws, do yourself a favor and disable it entirely. In other states, only one party has to know they’re being recorded.
Gone are the days of wearing a literal “wire.” In states where audio recording consent laws will allow it, you can make use of unobtrusive wireless body microphones to speak with the target on a pretext, or to “wire up” your client to get something incriminating on the subject. Good models with multi-channel transmission avoid interference and can both record and transmit real-time broadcasts to a base station up to 200 feet away.
Following and Tracking
For surveillance operations, a small, nondescript car with a respectable number of ponies under the hood and some tinting on the windows will do the trick.
Some PIs prefer vans or minivans, which makes a certain amount of sense for static surveillance – but good luck catching up with that Beamer in one. Not to mention the fact that it’s so cliché to be conducting surveillance out of a van with tinted windows that you up the risk of drawing attention to yourself.
Private investigators are legally permitted to use drones in the State of New Jersey. Drones are a much needed tool for pre-surveillance, litigation support and evidence collection. Our drone pilots are mature seasoned professionals who keep safety as their highest priority. Insurance companies, attorneys and private clients can all benefit from using drones!
Privacy advocates use the term “surveillance drones” to paint a very broad stroke in efforts to mislead the public. They want the public to believe a retail drone has the capability of a military drone. This is not the case. As private investigators we often provide litigation support to attorney’s and insurance companies. Here are some examples of how our private investigators are using surveillance drones.
- Google earth is a valuable tool to the private investigator. The problem with using Google earth is you have no idea how accurate the date of the image is. You can’t prove in court that the image(s) were never altered, who took the phots or when they were taken. Drones allow the private investigator real time imagery that can become a business record which they can be validated in court. That being said, aerial drone imagery can be used along with Google Earth to demonstrate how the topology has changed over time.
- Law enforcement and private investigators often do accident reconstruction. Drones would allow the investigator the ability to document everything exactly as it came to rest in as close to real time as possible. Drones can also be used to document construction sites, sink holes or disaster areas such as hurricane damage at the Jersey shore.
- Private investigators and recovery agents can now use aerial drones to locate property that may be hidden in a person’s backyard or deep in a construction site.
- Drones also make a great pre-surveillance tool. Often in rural areas man made roads don’t appear on maps. The drone can help determine the routes available to your subject. They are also a safer alternative for the investigator; to the extent he can fly over the subject’s home to determine what if any vehicles are present and their make and model.
- Drones offer a cheaper alternative to hiring a pilot or chartering a plane. When it comes to litigation support drones have the potential to lower litigation cost.
- Blackstone Investigations Group is the premiere private investigations agency located in the New Jersey area. We have private investigators trained in the legal use of drones as a tool in litigation support and evidence collection. Our drones have automated flight controls that make the inherently compliant with FAA rules. Please feel free to contact us if you have a need for aerial photography or video footage of an area.
Don’t allow an unlicensed unprofessional non-compliant amateur expose you and your company to federal violations and safety concerns. Hire the pros at Blackstone Investigations Group today!