Just for Fun...... Surveillance Facts and Myths

Merriam-Webster defines Myth as “An idea or story that is believed by many people but that is not true.” For the purpose of this page we will consider Myths as the storybook versions of surveillance. According to the Surveillance Myths, all things turn out perfectly, all the time. This means the person we are watching does exactly what they are suspected of doing, we know what is happening inside every building, all people seen are identified, everything that happens is caught on video, we never lose sight of the target, we only have to do surveillance one time and we are never noticed by the subject.

To be honest, I love that story. It’s wonderful. Our job is easy, clients get what they want and it’s happy ending for everyone. Given our expertise in the field, it DOES sometimes happen that way and it’s awesome! But let’s be clear, some of those things are outside of our control, especially what the subject does while we are watching them.

But Don’t Be Discouraged! Surveillance is a useful and successful tool in almost all cases. We will be happy to discuss the specifics of your case, identify any potential challenges up front and be honest about what we think it will take to be successful, as well as, what you can really expect. Below are just a few “reality check” fun facts. Relax…enjoy…

Fact #1: Investigators at Liberty Investigations are EXCELLENT at surveillance!


Fact #2: We do NOT have superhero powers (but we sure wish we did!)

  • We cannot fly......we drive vehicles just like everyone else and are subject to the same traffic laws and conditions as the people we are following. We get stuck at red lights, we get cut off in traffic, we get stopped by the flagger at a construction site, and surprisingly we sometimes get in auto accidents.
  • We are not invisible….. we perform surveillance from the safest distance possible to remain undetected and maintain visual contact with the subject, but we are not invisible. Unfortunately we cannot always sit with a perfect view of the house, the car and everyone coming and going. A cul-de-sac is a perfect example of a place we cannot hide. We must position ourselves without a view of the house and watch for vehicles leaving, do periodic drive-bys of the house and do the best we can.
  • We do not have x-ray vision…. we cannot see through doors or buildings. If it is feasible and within the scope of the investigation to follow someone into a building, we will do so. Otherwise we won’t be able to tell you what they bought at the store or what they are doing inside that house.
  • We cannot be in two places at one time…..There are often times on surveillance we wish we had this power. The only way we can accomplish this is to have a second investigator. Example 1: An apartment complex where we can’t see the front door, don’t know what the subject is driving, and there are two parking areas equal distance from the apartment. Example 2: We are trying to locate the subject and they could be in one of several locations. Example 3: We are following someone from work, they park in contract parking where we cannot go and there is more than one exit from the parking garage. You get the idea. In those situations we need two investigators.
  • We cannot stop time…. Everything happens fast on surveillance. People get into cars fast, they go into restaurants fast, they often drive fast. We are not always able to capture everything on video but we try. Did you know that its takes 4 seconds to turn on a video camera and begin recording? That’s after we’ve pulled into the same parking lot, stopped the vehicle, and picked up the camera.
  • We cannot read minds… While we would love this skill, we do not know what our subject is thinking, where they might be going, when they might be leaving or who they might be meeting. We do not know which route they will take out of the neighborhood or business, or which exit from the shopping center they will use, how long they will be inside any given location, etc. But we do our best to anticipate and be prepared!
  • We are not superheroes…. We are humans. I won’t lie to you, despite being excellent at what we do, we make mistakes. You cannot remove the human aspect from this business. Effective surveillance involves quick thinking, anticipation and skill. It also sometimes involves luck, and lack thereof. The most frustrating thing for a surveillance investigator is when you are doing all the right things and get unlucky. Best example….There is one car between the subject and our vehicle because we are trying to inconspicuous. The subject goes through a yellow light and the car in front of us stops. And we have to watch as our subject drives away. It’s almost painful, but it happens. We also have to make difficult decisions on surveillance that don’t have a right or wrong answer. We use that experience I mentioned before to make the best decision for the current situation.

Fact #3 : This is not TV or the movies

We would love for things to always go as smoothly as they do for these famous PIs, but unfortunately they are fictional and this is real life.

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In reality, perfect opportunities do not always present themselves, technology is limited and we can't always use our considerable charm to solve the case. Here are a few practical examples of real surveillance:

When we follow someone into a restaurant on a Friday night, or any night, there will not always be an open table right next to the subject with a perfect view for video. Yes, we have covert video but taking video inside establishments is not always practical.

We do not have facial recognition software on our video cameras or smart phones. We cannot upload images to a database in the sky that identifies people we see on surveillance. We rely on vehicle license plates or addresses to help identify people but this is not always successful.

When we are watching someone in a rural area, it would be perfect if there were a country store right next to their property where we can park unnoticed. But that doesn't usually happen. And unfortunately we can't just park on the side of the road and assume the subject won't notice us. Rural surveillances are a challenge and we often have to establish positions further away than preferred and use two investigators.

Fact #4 : We are not a government agency

We do not have unlimited resources for surveillance….unless of course you have unlimited funds! Even if you happen to have unlimited funds, we are still limited by and abide by all state and federal laws.

We do not have access to satellites, drones, law enforcement cameras and systems, long distance listening devices, or anything else the government might utilize for surveillance. We do have covert cameras and GPS tracking for certain and specific situations. We typically utilize one or two surveillance investigators unless the situation requires more. Our hourly rates are charged per investigator, per hour.

Fact #5: If you think you need surveillance, you should call Liberty Investigations, Inc.

Consultations are always free and we will be happy to assess your specific situation to determine if surveillance is right for you. You can reach us by phone at 281-373-0099 or by email at Admin@libertyinvestigations.com.

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