Before even talking about surveillance, it is first necessary to discern which are generally the two environments the majority of "surveillance operators" come from, and which companies, institutions or, individuals may be required to mandate in the private sector.

Indeed, throughout my career I have had the opportunity to rub shoulders with many "operators" or "detectives" in the private field. I have essentially noted that the majority of operators are either former police officer or former soldiers; often former member of elite unit as for my part.

This distinction, which may seem benign, nevertheless leads to a considerable difference in the way of operating related to these two environments. And, this difference may prove to be crucial for the success of your project! That is why I'm going to reveal some keys that will help you choose your surveillance partner.

First, we need to identify the operating context of these two environments in order to reveal the methodology that leads to this difference. When we analyze the context, we can see that they are actually two totally different worlds. Therefore, the operating methodology is exhaustively different.

Let's take a closer look at what makes these two environments so similar, and yet so different...

First of all, and without even looking very far, we can see that a military operator operates essentially in foreign territory; even if it happens more and more these days to see these units operating at home. While a police officer will operate only at home and even very often in known territory.

This demarcation, as obvious as it is, leads to a difference in the way these two environments operate. Indeed, operating in foreign territory requires on the one hand, much more preparation, attention and, risk management; in particular the risk of being discovered or 'burned' as we say in the jargon of the trade. And, you can imagine that being discovered in foreign territory and being discovered at home does not involve the same consequences at all!

In addition, a police officer conducting surveillance; acting as an authority; cares little or nothing about what is called "the third party". By "third party" we simply mean all the people who are part of the decor, including passers-by, road users, people on terraces, windows and balconies, etc.

While a military operator on the contrary, because he operates in foreign territory, pays special attention to "third parties" and his entire strategy is based on the environment in which he operates. Going from the dress code to the choice of vehicle, the equipment used and many others...

And at first glance we can say, but what importance does it make if the neighbor of the corner or the guy drinking his coffee on a terrace spots me carrying out a surveillance ...

However, you will see that in reality this small detail alone can seal the fate of your success!

Indeed, it is important and even essential to pay particular attention to the third party during surveillance. On the one hand you do not know what relationship your target might have with the third party in question, and on the other hand this same surrounding can simply be infested with counter-surveillance depending on who your target is.

In order for you to better understand, below is a concrete example.

A few years ago, we were commissioned by a client who needed our experience and expertise in counter-surveillance because he feared of being under surveillance.

Our mission was to accompany, undercover, the client during his travel and movements in order to spot any potential surveillance that would be conducted on him or the locations he visits.

That day, we deployed as usually, and once arrived in the city center,very quickly I spot a person with an unnatural behavior. So, I start to observe the individual more closely and pass on the communication to my team. After a few moments, this same person hides behind a corner of a building, takes out his camera and begins to burst in the direction of our client. It is confirmed! Our client is under surveillance as he suspected, only thing left to do is to determine the size and the identity of the opponent.

A beginner's mistake that cost them the success of their project on the one hand. But the biggest loss is certainly the financial loss suffered by their client, corresponding to the detective's fee; fee for a failed operation!

And sometimes it's not even necessary to have to put a counter-surveillance team in place. Informed neighbors or an observant passer-by are all simple small elements that can derail an operation and cost you money!

A few years ago, I was contacted by a client to conduct a surveillance, in the middle of the Christmas period, on an individual wanted by Interpol and several governments. Being an hectic period, I informed the client that we could not start the mission for several weeks. The client wanted to act fast, and did not want to wait so he decided to mandate a local team that he had quickly found on the internet.

It turns out that this is a mistake that cost him dearly...

The local team, being simple private detectives, did not know how to adapt to the context and did not understand what the real stakes are.

Surveillance Day N°1: When the surveillance team finished with handcuffs on the wrists...

One morning in December, shortly before Christmas, the local surveillance team set up at the target’s location. The target was living in a small residential area in the middle of the countryside, very quiet. However, it was the perfect place for surveillance as the neighborhood was surrounded by forest, but most importantly, it was located in a cul-de-sac. In other words, only one entry and exit point. Paradise for a surveillance team! No needs to expose yourself too much and by monitoring the only access to the residential area it is almost impossible that the "trigger" misses the target.

However, it didn't take long for a neighbor to spot them and warn the target. What follows is worthy of a scene from a comedy movie. The target's wife came out to confront the detectives; who had kindly parked in front of the target’s house, both sitting on the front seats of their vehicle; she then called the cops and they ended up at the police station. I let you imagine the dissatisfaction of the client and the reputation that this event forged to the detectives.

The most compelling thing in the story is that surveillance on the target was still necessary, but, from then on, the game was totally changed!

When we finally arrived on the field to try to make up for this monumental mistake, we had to adapt and take special measures not to suffer the same fate. And now the whole village was on guard, the local police had intensified patrols and the neighborhood had mandated a security company to monitor the area!

But I reassure you, at the end we managed to keep the target under control for about a month, until the evening when the target tried to flee the country under a false identity. Except that we were prepared for this scenario and always had the target under control. We then warned the client early, who notified the authorities, who then arrested the individual in the neighboring country when he was about to board the plane with his false documents.

So how do you choose the right team?

First of all, it is important to define the context. It is clear that if your goal is simply to determine if your spouse is cheating on you, any detective will do the trick and he will even be much better suited to the situation because he will surely be much cheaper than a professional operators team!

In the contrary, when it comes to HVT (High Value Target), politicians or individuals with the means to surround themselves with bodyguards, the simple detective will unfortunately be very quickly overwhelmed, and this is a real risk for the success of your project or case!

Therefore, you should know that a simple question is enough to differentiate a good detective from a bad one, a good operator team from a bad one.

Just ask the following question: Have you ever had losses ?

If the answer is no. Hang up and start looking for someone else!

You should know that in the world of espionage and surveillance, having losses is part of the job, and happens from time to time. So a detective or operator who tells you that he has never had a loss is either a liar or inexperienced. And I stand by that loud and clear!

Then ask him what is his way of operating, does he operate solo or in a team. When it comes to high level operations, a professional will never work alone because it is almost impossible to keep someone under control for many hours or days alone. In addition, working alone considerably increases the risk of being detected and of exploding the "Heat grid"!

With these two simple questions you can already get an idea of the quality of your interlocutor and determine if it is suitable for your project or not.

Final word...

Surveillance is an art that requires a lot of practice and training to be mastered which is why at Eyes On Target we have been training and performing for several years and continue to develop our techniques, in order to provide you with the best quality of service possible.

Unfortunately the private sector lacks of regulation and today anyone can pretend to be a detective or a surveillance operator. It is, therefore, very important for you to understand the risks of partnering up with the wrong people to conduct surveillance. It could cost you dearly and even create legal messes.

At Eyes On Target we always consults with our legal advisors before taking on any project or before going out on the field. It guarantees our clients the piece of mind from a legal standpoint of view and saves them great amount of money!

5 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All