Disclaimer: This is an opinion, specific to privately owned vehicles or privately owned devices, and should not be viewed as legal advice....read on.
Use of GPS by private investigators to track a target for surveillance is a great tool and there are many opportunities where it can facilitate an investigation. As a private investigator you must consider all of the potential challenges when deploying GPS tools in the field for investigations involving privately owned devices or vehicles.
When considering the use of GPS we have compiled a few considerations before you deploy it in the field:
Use of GPS will continue for awhile to be controversial in legal proceedings as well as in the public eye, with or without guiding laws. As a private investigator you must protect your business, yourself from potential civil litigation or criminal charges. Consider the alternatives, then get legal advice.
All experienced private investigators know that when you get a confession the case is not over. As one investigator said, "There are still a lot of rocks to turn over".
The key, that once a confession is obtained, don't stop your investigation. The suspect can always recant their statements, or refuse to testify in court.
Successful private investigations work relies on knowledge, skills, abilities, and training. There are times that creativity is a critical part of the investigative process. Here are few creative ways that private investigators can find successful conclusions to difficult situations and investigations:
These are just a few creative ways to reach a successful conclusion in an investigation where creativity played a crucial role. When you encounter a difficult situation, take time to think of creative solutions.
Whether you have been in the private investigations for a long time or are just starting out, the services contract is the most important document you have to protect your business. Here is a short list of key items to include in your contract in addition to having a legal professional review it for you:
Taking the time to develop a contract in clear, simple and concise terms will protect you and your client. Including the items above, at a minimum, will help you develop your contract and prepare for challenges that may arise during your investigation.
The interview of witnesses, victims, and suspects is the primary service of private investigators. Excellent interview techniques are what separates a good private investigator from a great one. Gathering statements, digging deeper through an interview to get to the facts takes time in research, conducting the interview, and verifying statements.
Here are some tips from private investigators with excellent interview skills:
Being a great interviewer takes practice. Before each interview review the key steps such as developing rapport, opening statements, open ended questions use, closing statements. This will help you focus on the interview, the information you need, and analyzing the information you receive.
Private investigations is not always about the money, the bottom line. There are several ways that you can become more involved in your community.
Here are a few ideas:
All of these tips have a common theme - Showing concern for others. Chances are you could do all of these things and never receive one case, but what a great way to help others.
Civil suits are always a possibility for private investigators. To protect yourself against civil action claims, your investigative reports require careful review, and editing. This will protect you, and your private investigative firm. If you haven't been the target of a civil suit, chances are you will some day.
Consider that your investigative report is your best insurance against such cases when properly written. Your report must be factual, accurately track any evidence collected, and accurately reflect any information gleamed from your interviews.
Increasing the efficiency of your operations is the best way to increase your profits.
Here are a few ways that you can increase your efficiency, to increase your bottom line:
"Time is money" for private investigators like any business. Time saved is the potential to put more dollars in the bank. Finding ways to work more efficiently, learning better ways to manage your time, increasing your accuracy, will increase your profits.
From the business perspective you can find it hard to say "no" to client when discussing a potential investigation. It is important to know your limits and respond accordingly. As an experienced investigator you have, or will, receive that call to consider an investigation. An investigation that may be beyond your level of expertise, or capabilities.
So how can you still say "yes" to an investigation, when your resources and capabilities are limited?
Start by identifying your weak points, areas where you may not have the required expertise, or for times when you have a heavy case load then, prepare in advance.
By identifying partners with the necessary skills and expertise, establishing agreements in advance, and offering your services in return, you can expand your investigative offerings. This will put you in a position to accept almost any investigation at times you have a heavy workload, or the investigation requires skills you do not have.
Investigators often ask, "When should I update the surveillance equipment I use in the field?"
Well, if you are a techno-nerd like I am, "You should update it monthly!!!!"
Seriously though, this is a serious question that deserves an answer.
There are a few clues to determine when to update your surveillance equipment.
When is the best time to upgrade? Other than the reasons above.
It's tough to let go of your video equipment. Chances are you've spent hours upon hours together. But consider upgrading your equipment before your existing equipment begins to fail. If your video equipment is 6 years or older and has experienced a lot of use consider shopping around. It's always better to purchase equipment at a time you choose, rather than rushing out and trying to replace it minutes before you begin your surveillance activities.
Don't throw away your older video camera if it's still working. Keep it in your go-bag as a back-up. (One investigator shared that he was confronted by a spouse he was surveilling. The man demanded his camera. He quickly pulled out is old video camera and handed it to him, then filmed him with his new video camera destroying the old one:-)
Your equipment is an investment in your profession. Failing to get the right video because of faulty, or soon to be faulty video equipment will not get you a call back from the client. Take a look at your equipment, evaluate it's operation, and then decide when it is time to upgrade, at your convenience.
Pro PI staff
Experienced professionals and trainers.