5 Things Every Private Investigator Should Keep Close By

This list does not include the obvious things, like drinks and snacks, wet wipes and a his or hers wee bottle, because as I am sure we all know, the private investigator does not really have a set clock off time, because they can hardly say ‘hold on a minute, just stop your dodgy activity for five minutes, while I go and grab a drink!’ So they can end up getting rather peckish or needing the other, and it can lead to total distraction and then they missing the pertinent action. Preparation is key.

These items are listed in no particular order of preference or importance because they are all equally essential pieces of a surveillance equipment kit.

1. Global Positioning Systems are an important part of the toolkit for several reasons. You need to know where you are going to meet a client. When following a target you can see if the turn the take is a dead end, before you follow them in. You do not need a special piece of equipment these days as most mobile phones have a GPS app that you can use, although be sure to be on an unlimited data plan.

2. Binoculars are essential; however it may be in your best interest to consider having two pairs. A small discreet pair for when you are on an observation in the middle of a town centre, and a larger more powerful pair if your observation point is quite a distance away from the action.

3. Camera and tripod. The camera seems pretty obvious, but have you remembered back up batteries and a spare camera, just in case the first one breaks. You also have to decide what camera to bring, as most video cameras can take stills, it is probably best to have a couple of those to hand. Then you need a tripod. It can get pretty tiring holding a video in position and steady for a half hour at a time. Then you have the need for covert cameras. Bring as many as you have access to or at least 2, because they can be notoriously unreliable and having more than you need reduces the risk of having to explain to your client that unfortunately your covert camera went on the blink just at the pivotal moment.

4. This one is not very technical, but it still needs to be on the essential private investigator’s list of essential surveillance equipment. Sun screens for your vehicle windows serve a multitude of purposes; they do a great job of obscuring you from the view of passersby. They can also aid the quality of any photos you take, because if there is too much sunlight, then the end result might be that the focus of the picture is ill defined.

5. Technical Surveillance Counter Measure (TSCM), this is back to the technical stuff in a big way. There are different devices that you can use to complete an electronic sweep of any location in order to detect any surveillance equipment that has already been placed in your location, especially useful when a company suspects an employee of industrial espionage.

There are many other bits and bobs that would come in handy to keep in your car when you are out on an operation, not least the trusty pen and paper. The list for a complete kit is so extensive and the technology keeps updating so fast, you would need a double decker bus to keep it all in and a book to write about it all, which of course would be out of date by the time it was published!