Do you need to follow someone without being seen? This is not always an easy task. Fortunately, with a few tips and a little bit of practice you can be surveilling your suspect like a pro. Before putting your plan into action consider that following someone may fall under stalking and should be fully researched based on the state you live in.
Never jump into a surveillance without doing your homework first. The more you know about the habits and actions of your target the better the tailing. Sometimes social media can even be helpful narrowing down the following:
- Where do they work?
- What is there schedule?
- What kind of vehicle do they use?
- Do they go to the gym?
- What are their habits?
Knowing the answers to these questions could help in finding the suspect as well as predict their next stop. Use a mapping application to figure out what routes your suspect would take and do some scouting. Learn the side streets and traffic flow if you are unfamiliar with the area. Look for any shortcuts or alleys that you could use to get ahead of your suspect and consider there maybe tolls or paid parking.
Tailing is much easier if a suspect does not recognize you. Always wear clothing that doesn’t stand out or attract attention. If your suspect does know you, consider bringing along a few items to conceal your appearance.
- Dark sunglasses
- Baseball cap
- Reversible jacket
- Stocking cap or beanie
Putting these items on or taking them off can quickly change your appearance if your suspect might be on to you.
It is always easier to tail your suspect in a vehicle than on foot. Make sure you have a full tank of gas, snacks and any supplies you might need ahead of time. If using equipment, like surveillance binoculars or video cameras, have extra batteries for backup.
- Memorize your suspect’s appearance and their vehicle information.
- Keep your distance.
- Start following after your suspect begins to move, not right away.
- Never run stop signs or traffic lights.
- If your suspect does not recognize you, consider driving parallel to them at times.
When on foot stay on the same side of the streets in congested areas. Use the opposite side on less busy streets.
Have a story
Be prepared for anything, including being noticed. Have a cover story that is prepared ahead of time so that it sounds convincing and not made up. Props or appearing occupied, like on a cell phone, can also help your story if needed.
- A (faux) name, where you are from, background
- Walking a dog
- Real estate agent (possibly have houses mapped)
- Fake business card
Be prepared and have multiple cover stories for different situations, people and areas. If your story appears less than convincing, it maybe time to abort the mission.
Tailing someone is not always as glamorous as Hollywood makes it out to be. It often involves a lot of waiting and watching and may take several attempts before you uncover any pertinent information. Nevertheless, if you are prepared and patient you might just catch them red handed.