Monday, July 23, 2012

Pre-surveillance tips: The little things

Well, Dear Reader, after my last post regarding 1-up surveillance you might think I'm a hypocrite for doing exactly that the last couple of days.

Hell, I never said I was perfect!  And sometimes I feel like eating.

Anyway, this post isn't about that anyway. No, while I was sitting in my car for hours (and hours) over the past few days, I was thinking about some of the things that might get overlooked when preparing for a surveillance job.

Now I'm not talking about the big things, like ensuring you have enough fuel in the car (and sometime remind me to tell you an embarrassing story about that) but the small details that might come back and bite you on the arse.

  1. Synchronised Time: Make sure that the time on your watch, phone, car clock, cameras etc are synchronised. While my watch and phone tend to keep good time (the phone updates itself from the network) my car clock tends to drop a few minutes every week. Usually when noting the time in my audio surveillance log I get the time from the clock as it is easier than glancing at my wrist while driving (...and dictating, and keeping an eye on the subject etc...). Also, as a general aside, you don't want the timestamp on a video or photo to say 1138 when according to your surveillance log Jimmy the Nose handed over the envelope at 1135. Consistency is king!

  2. Mirrors and windows: Clean them! Dirty windows can mess with the auto-focus function on your camera and also you never know when you might be needing clear line-of-sight through your rear or side mirrors.

  3. Battery check: Probably one of the bigger things is to ensure all batteries for equipment are charged overnight or fresh but it doesn't hurt to check that they are all good before heading off. A couple of times I've almost been caught out when batteries failed to charge properly, for whatever reason.

  4. Start out extra-early: Give yourself a little extra time when setting out just in case something unexpected or unforeseen arises, like your windscreen has iced up overnight and needs defrosting or you've noticed that the front-left tyre looks a bit flat. Better to be early than late in this business.
Any other tips out there?


  1. Have a large empty bottle and an old towel.

  2. Food/snacks as you never know how long
    Keeping your distance between yourself and the subject
    Make sure your car fits in the neighborhood (do not want it LOUD and noticeable)

    1. Although while I agree with the idea that your vehicle should fit the neighbourhood, it's probably not like you are going to have a lot of choices unless your client is willing to pay for a rental.

      Mind you, I have been known to borrow a vehicle now and again from friends.

    2. Or you could choose to buy cars that are inconspicuous, instead of, you know, big silver 4WDs that stand out like a sore thumb, not to mention cost much more to run and have a habit of breaking down, but that doesn't stop you from replacing the broken down one with the same model, because nothing could possibly go wrong with that plan now could it?