Sniffing Out Microphones and Other Bugging Devices Yourself

Sniffing Out Microphones and Other Bugging Devices Yourself

Understanding the Behaviour of Sound

In this article, I will attempt to show you how to detect transmitters, bugs and other miniature microphone devices that may have been inserted in your own house or office. Let us first understand the dynamics of sound. Sound always takes the path of least resistance, such as a doorway, duct or open window. If someone wants to spy on you, he / she may most likely have placed their bugs in overlooked air paths such as over, under or around doors. Sometimes you can find holes in walls, or spaces around pipes and wiring. Remember even the smallest air path can transmit sound to a microphone.

Sound-as well as electrical signals-travels along the metal surfaces of electrical conduits, pipes and ducts. You can recover this sound after it has traveled more than 100 feet in this manner. Water-filled pipes transmit sound with much less distortion than empty pipes.

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Sounds, depending on their frequencies, penetrate floors, ceilings and doors. After sound energy hits a structure, some reflects from the surface, some is absorbed and the rest passes on. Remember even a so-called “soundproof’ room can be bugged by your enemies especially if the soundproofing consists of acoustical tile. Truth is, acoustical tile can actually reduce a room’s sound security. Acoustical tile was made to reduce sound reverberations in a recording studio. Tile lets walls absorb more sound, reducing its level in the room. Sound that is absorbed is not lost because energy cannot be destroyed, only converted. Therefore, acoustical tile may reduce a room’s security by allowing sound to be transmitted through the wall structure and it is often applied in a hanging configuration allowing space to place surveillance gear above the tile.

Most microphones will “hear” through acoustical tile quite well, if not simply punch a small hole with a nail or dentists drill. A small camera can also be placed behind these tiles because the tiny holes on the acoustical walls can easily relay video information to your enemies.

Distortion and Interference

Sound waves not only travel from their source, they also are reflected when they hit a surface. Reflected sounds behave as if the surface they hit is their original source, and can be reflected again. Sound patterns become very complicated after reflecting and re-reflecting from ceilings, floors, walls and internal objects. Reflected sound waves can merge almost exactly with sounds arriving from the first source. Sounds merged like this have an increased sound level and are “in phase.”Sound is distorted when a disruption changes its normally smooth pattern. Distortion may be encountered before the sound is recorded, during the recording or at playback. Excessive distortion cuts down the recovery and understanding of intercepted sound. Which is why your enemies will take great care to place their bugs in distortion-free places only. When placing the microphone, they will consider how quickly sound loses power after leaving its source. Say your friend is talking to you from 10 feet away. If you then stand 20 feet apart, the magnitude of his voice doesn’t become one-half as loud-it cuts to one-fourth! The magnitude of sound declines according to the inverse square law. If you quadruple the distance between you and your friend, the power of the sound of his voice drops to one-sixteenth. In surveillance work we are interested in two kinds of sound: Sounds (usually voices) we want to hear, and all other unwanted sounds no matter what their origin. Types of sound interference are countless. Rain, plumbing, air conditioning, fans, traffic, planes and trains are just some of the problems. When you are being monitored, just one more person speaking in the near vicinity can cause massive interference.

Sometimes original and reflected sound waves meet so that their decompressions and compressions neutralize each other. When they merge this way the sounds are “out of phase.” If neutralization is perfect, the effect is called cancellation. Sounds are rarely totally out of phase, so the nullification effect is usually just called interference.

Bugging Rule No. 1 – Place mics Close

best bug sweeping experts indiaWhether hard wiring, stashing a recorder or placing a transmitter, the prime rule of your enemies will be: place the microphone as close as possible to the people speaking. The average male’s speaking voice falls between a frequency range of 100 Hz and 8 KHz and the average female’s between 200 Hz and 10KHz. Most speech falls between 600 Hz and 4 KHz. You can sharply reduce interference without sacrificing clarity and understanding by reducing the power of frequencies between 600 Hz and 4 KHz. Some recording systems come with low pass and high pass filters that limit the band pass to achieve this reduction, automatically reducing sounds outside of the voice range. Early telephones did this by virtue of their carbon microphone construction. Rooms constructed with hard surface walls and containing filing cabinets, desks and other such furnishings are known as “hard rooms.” Hard rooms reflect sound waves a great deal, creating a feeling of loudness despite a lack of loud sounds. On the other hand, “soft rooms” are fitted with acoustical tiles, soft. walls, padded furniture, drapes and carpets. Soft rooms absorb sounds and cause a feeling of quiet regardless of the presence of loud sounds.

Soft rooms pose fewer surveillance problems than do hard rooms. Hard rooms reflect sound more, causing distortion. By its construction, a hard room’s structure multiplies the effects of disturbances and interference. If your enemy has had the time and opportunity chances are that he would have tested several spots in the target room to find the one with the least amount of annoying distortion. Some operatives take a surreptitious photo of the room on an earlier reconnaissance visit and then pre-plan the actual placement by experience or by experimenting with a similar room. This is often possible if the target room is a motel room or apartment with duplicates nearby.


If you are being bugged, chances are that your enemies have placed the mic as close as possible to where the talking will take place. They will avoid that will cause the microphone to pick up too many reflected sounds. For instance, placing a microphone in a file cabinet, or metal waste paper basket could add echoes that would make any received speech incomprehensible. Besides finding a good location to hide the microphone, they would have also checked for and tried to remove any sources of electrical interference. Sources that cannot be removed require diligent placement of both cabling and the actual microphone.

Electrical hum comes from motors, transformers, SCR dimmers and electrical wires. Many appliances cause hum and noise. So the microphone cables would be placed away from these sources of hum. The best places to conceal a microphone are those above a standing person’s eye level or below a seated person’s. People do not often scrutinize these areas. Your enemies will also take advantage of any obstructions where one can stash a microphone behind. Even though doors, ceilings, walls and floors are many times hollow, they seem solid and people imagine them to be free of suspicion. A pro snooper will usually placed microphones inside these supposedly solid locations. Walls also have the added advantage of nearby wiring with which to power the transmitter through which your conversations are being heard and recorded. A tiny hole can be drilled for the microphone, or existing holes such as those in electrical sockets can be utilized for sound gathering. Ceilings also offer benefits when concealing microphones. Crawl spaces and attics can give room in which to work. Outlets, fixtures and ducts are good places for a microphone, provided there is no acoustical and electrical interference.

So if you fear that you are being bugged, apart from looking at all the nooks and crannies above standing eye level and below seated level, also check the walls and ceilings of your house which ultimately is the most difficult and time consuming and most often requiring expert bug-sniffing hardware. Call us on +91 98206 07875 for specialised help however small or large the suspected area maybe. We have the best Spectrum Analyzers, Audio Amplifiers and Non Linear Junction Detectors to sniff out bugging devices.

Author Bio

Amit Sen, a commercial pilot by training, has over 15 years experience in the space of corporate investigations, handling Copyright & Trademark infringement cases, Pre – employment verification Industrial Espionage investigations, Asset & Net – Worth assessment assignments and vendor / supplier verification cases, among others. Co-founder of Alliance One – who are the best de bugging and espionage detectives in India. Amit has also successfully completed assignments in a wide range of sectors, including the machine tools industry, pharmaceutical industry, hospitality sector, specialized equipment (Oil & natural gas sector, aviation industry etc.), telecom industry & the IT & ITes sectors. These cases have all involved both offline and online investigations.

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Why The Art of Observation Is The Most Coveted Skill of Good Private Detectives

Why The Art of Observation Is The Most Coveted Skill of Good Private Detectives

Today in this post I will try to shed some light on Observation which is the most critical job of Artists as well as Private Investigators like us! Observation is a critical aspect of surveillance detection. It also supports antisurveillance, particularly in identifying the need to elude surveillance by detecting it. The Principal’s perceptive ability to observe and retain specifics regarding the surrounding environment enables him to identify indications of surveillance and subsequently confirm them through repeated observations of surveillance operators or vehicles. A sophisticated surveillance team rarely commits tactical errors that allow the Principal to identify its presence during an isolated incident.

Although there are specific surveillance detection maneuvers that are designed to expose surveillance immediately, most depend on the Principal’s ability to observe his surroundings and confirm any suspicions such observation might elicit at subsequent times and locations. When I use the word ‘Principa;’ I imply a person who is being followed. As such this article can also help you become more aware of your surroundings and also help you spot people who you think may be following you.


Best Private Detectives PI's IndiaObservation is the act of seeing or fixing the mind upon something for the purpose of recognizing and retaining some fact or occurrence. It is conducted through the body’s senses of perception. Perception is an individual’s awareness of the elements of environment, gained through physical sensation in reaction to sensory stimulus. Sensory stimulus is perceived by the body’s senses, which consist of sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. For surveillance detection purposes, observation relies primarily on the sense of sight, but it can be enhanced by hearing and, to a much lesser degree, smell. Effective observation requires a conscious and continuous effort. This consists of a keen awareness of surrounding activity to observe and retain the images of specific individuals, objects, and occurrences. This includes the perception of shape, size, and features; colors, shades, and lighting; and speed, time, and distance. The process of observation consists of three sub-processes: attention,  perception, and retention.

Attention is the aspect of observation that is most critical to surveillance detection, because without attention, perception and retention are impossible. Attention is the awareness of surroundings that provide the sensory stimulus on which perception is based. People will normally apply voluntary attention to the activity they are undertaking. An item or occurrence that does not fit within an individual’s frame of reference for what is the statusquo normally draws involuntary attention. For example, someone may walk through a crowd of faceless people until a person with a limp immediately draws his involuntary attention. People who are particularly large or small have this same effect, as do bright colors and loud or sharp sounds.

As mentioned, an individual’s attention is normally focused on the activity he is undertaking at the time. His attention is limited to items and occurrences that have direct impact on that activity, unless it is seized by an unusually large, loud, or relatively unanticipated item or occurrence. An individual driving down the road will normally focus his attention on those factors which impact that activity-primarily the traffic and road ahead. The Principal practicing surveillance detection, on the other hand, must expand his attention to include the entire surroundings.The skill of observation requires a knowledge of the principles of perception and an understanding of how they are employed. The most basic detractor one must overcome in attempting to enhance perceptive skills is the tendency to perceive and retain only those items or occurrences that fall within his range of interests or understanding. Everyone has a unique range of interests and understanding based on mental capacity, education, and background.Personal interests are conditioned throughout a lifetime, and to expand observation beyond those requires a conscious and focused effort. Perception is also limited by an individual’s base of knowledge.

The mind tends to either subconsciously filter out items and occurrences for which there is no frame of reference by which to describe them in known terms or retain them for subsequent retrieval. An individual must be constantly aware of these tendencies in order to overcome their impact on observation. Every individual perceives his surroundings uniquely. In the context of observation for the purposes of surveillance detection, the Principal’s frame of reference for how people and vehicles are observed must be expanded through concentration and training. The unassuming individual may view all individuals equally-or ignore them equally. A person who holds ethnic prejudices will immediately avert his attention to those who do not conform to his standard of “normal,” whereas those who do conform will pass unnoticed. A person who has been the victim of a violent crime at the hands of an someone of a particular race or category of persons will display vigilance in directing his attention to those who meet this profile in comparison to others individuals around him.

Another common example of how attention is programmed is that attractive individuals of the opposite sex will normally seize people’s attention. This brief psychological synopsis illustrates the impact an individual’s frame of reference has on his attention. As mentioned previously, perception and retention are only possible after attention is applied. Most people’s perception of what a surveillance operator looks like comes from Hollywood interpretations and spy novels. This frame of reference will only serve to filter out the actual surveillance operators because, contrary to popular perceptions, they will be among the most unassuming individuals on the streets. This perception must be overcome for surveillance detection purposes because otherwise the Principal’s attention will be focused on misconceived indicators.


A basic understanding of the principles of observation is a critical aspect of surveillance detection. Much of surveillance detection depends on observing possible or suspected surveillance operators or vehicles, retaining their images or key aspects thereof, and confirming that they are surveillance operators or vehicles through subsequent observation. Once again, perception and retention are contingent on attention. The Principal’s voluntary attention must transcend the frame of reference that has developed over his lifetime and he must apply attention to all surrounding activity to the greatest degree possible. Then, through a keen knowledge of surveillance tactics and an ability to detect indicators of surveillance, he can eliminate those individuals and vehicles that are not indicative or suspicious and key on those that are.

Any sophisticated surveillance effort operates based on a keen understanding of the principles of observation. A surveillance effort will conform to what most people see as the statusquo or the norm with respect to the surrounding environment. This minimizes or negates the degree to which it draws the involuntary attention of the Principal. Although the Principal cannot discount unique individuals and vehicles immediately, it is safe to say that they will rarely be representative of a sophisticated surveillance effort because of the attention they attract.For the purposes of surveillance detection, the primary objective of observation of surrounding individuals is to retain their characteristics-consisting of features, form, dress, and mannerisms-for later recognition. It is not feasible to retain all of these for each individual observed. The Principal must attempt to key on those characteristics that are the most dominant and difficult to alter.

By so doing, he can concentrate on retaining specific characteristics of a number of surrounding individuals in a short period of time. By keying in on characteristics that are difficult to alter, the Principal does not squander mental resources retaining those that are easily altered and possibly of no subsequent value.

Observation of Features

Detectives Private Eyes Spies India Mumbai PuneBody features consist primarily of face, head, and hair. Three things that directly impact these are gender, race, and age, though these are not considered features in and of themselves because none can stand alone as an identifying characteristic for surveillance detection purposes.Body features are the most accurate characteristics by which to identify individuals. With the exception of hair, these are generally the most difficult and time-consuming to alter. Body features, however, are the most difficult to observe because they require that the Principal be close to the individual under scrutiny. The tactically sound surveillance operator will rarely place himself in a position that allows this degree of observation.

Additionally there are some long-term tactical disadvantages to the Principal’s being in close proximity to a surveillance operator. Facial features consist primarily of the eyebrows, eyes, nose, mouth, lips, chin, and ears. They can also include wrinkles, scars, dimples, birthmarks, moles, complexion, or other such markings as applicable. With many individuals, these variables can be the most distinguishable for observation purposes. Generally, however, the primary features will be the ones used for retention. The most effective method of observing an individual’s facial features for retention is to first develop an overall image of the face and then key on the most distinguishable feature or features. The head is normally distinguished by its shape. Although this could also qualify as a characteristic of form, it is included in the category of body features because of its impact on facial features and the overall development of a facial image. Additionally, the shape of the head includes the shape of the face. The shape of the head is generally differentiated as being round, high in the crown, bulging at the back, flat at the back, or keel (egg)-shaped. The shape of the face is distinguished by its height and breadth.

Although oval is the most prominent facial shape, faces can also be round, square, broad, fat, thin, or long. Body fat, or the lack thereof, may have a significant impact on the shape of a face.Hair is a significant aspect of an individual’s appearance. It can be a very deceiving feature, however, when one is operating against a sophisticated surveillance effort. As will be discussed in a subsequent section, hair is the surveillance operator’s quickest and most effective method of altering his appearance without resorting to elaborate disguise techniques. Hair is generally distinguished by color, length, texture, body, and style. The lack of head hair is a particularly prevalent feature. Facial hair, which is primarily distinguished by color, texture, and style, is yet another prevalent feature. Additionally, body hair such as arm and leg hair can assist detection observation.

The observation of surrounding vehicles for surveillance detection purposes also depends on the perception of features. Whereas each individual’s appearance is unique in many ways, there is much more duplication among vehicles with regard to makes, models, and colors. For this reason, the ability to observe features that may distinguish one vehicle from like models is critical to surveillance detection. Unique features such as dents, scratches, tires, hubcaps, designs, and distinguishable license plates are examples of those the Principal must concentrate on in order to isolate a possible surveillance vehicle from others on the road. At night, features such as a unique headlight appearance are useful for surveillance detection.

Observation of Form

Form consists of shape, build, and size. The overall body shape is formed by the neck, shoulders, trunk, stomach, buttocks, hips, legs, feet, arms, and hands. Distinguishable aspects of any portion of the body can be isolated for observation purposes.

Body shape is directly affected by body fat and muscularity. The fit of clothing must be considered, as it may distort perception in the observation of body shape. Build is generally categorized as heavy, stocky, medium, slender, and thin. This too is directly affected by body fat and muscularity and an also be distorted by clothing. Size is a relative characteristic based on individual perceptions. It is generally described in terms of height, width, and breadth. In assessing an individual’s size, one must factor in the distortion to perception caused by distance. Height is categorized as short, medium, and tall, but it should be estimated specifically by feet and inches. In assessing an individual’s height, the observer must factor in the distortion to perception that may occur when he and the individual under observation are situated at different levels.

Additionally, height can be altered by thick soles or heels on the shoes. Body width and breadth are particularly subjective and relative to the perception of the individual making the observation. For example, some individuals may be heavy or stocky in build but relatively small in overall size, whereas others are simply big without necessarily being fat or muscular. Again, width and breadth can be distorted by clothing. Finally, posture can have a significant effect on overall form, but this is normally considered a characteristic of mannerisms. Form is also applicable to the detection of surveillance vehicles. From a distance, a vehicle’s form is more readily distinguishable than its features. At night, the form projected by the silhouettes of following vehicles is one of the few things which can be discerned for surveillance detection purposes.

This same silhouette characteristic also applies to forms inside a vehicle, such as those of the occupants.

Observation of Mannerisms

Mannerisms are those characteristics or idiosyncrasies that are unique to an individual. They are peculiarities in action or bearing, including posture, stride, pace of motion, and voice quality. The number of examples is unlimited. Mannerisms that stand out or appear awkward can be effectively exploited for surveillance detection. An individual’s demeanor and bearing are established through myriad mannerisms. These are actions which are either programmed over a lifetime or result from physical characteristics. Those that develop through the years become subconscious actions and therefore can only be controlled by a conscious effort. Mannerisms that result from physical characteristics are much more difficult to alter because the mind cannot control and conceal what the body is unable to. For these reasons, the observation of unique mannerisms in surrounding individuals is an important aspect of surveillance detection. Whereas a surveillance operator can effectively alter appearance through disguise, most mannerisms require a continuous conscious effort to conceal or alter, and many are physically impossible to conceal.Physical mannerisms such as stride and posture are the easiest to observe. Unique physical mannerisms such as limps and nervous twitches are particularly conducive to surveillance detection.

In addition to representing themselves through physical mannerisms, people do so through their outward manner or demeanor. Demeanor generally consists of attitude, disposition, and temperament. These factors significantly influence how people carry themselves. For example, extroverted individuals normally display a more outgoing, positive, or aggressive demeanor. Regardless of his degree of extroversion or introversion, every individual exudes unique characteristics of demeanor that require a conscious effort to alter or conceal. Some of the most difficult mannerisms to control are those associated with nervousness and anticipation. Although surveillance operators will attempt to maintain an inconspicuous demeanor at all times, there is a natural tendency to become driven by the increase in adrenaline brought about by a surveillance operation. This can result in conspicuous actions or mannerisms such as pacing, focused staring, and continuously checking the watch. Other mannerisms that are unique to surveillance operators and may be exploited in surveillance detection observation are those associated with wearing body communications equipment. Many sophisticated surveillance teams equip surveillance operators with concealed body communications equipment for enhanced operational effectiveness. As a result, operators develop such tell-tale idiosyncrasies as adjusting upper-body equipment, talking into their chests, fidgeting with their hands in their pockets, and checking their ears with a finger.

Observation of Dress

Habits of dress are characteristics an individual develops over a lifetime. They are influenced by factors such as background, heritage, status, profession, and life-style. Some individuals are meticulous in the selection and maintenance of their clothing while others give this aspect of their outward appearance little concern. A person’s position along this spectrum of dress dictates the fashion in which he feels natural, comfortable, and confident. This is an important factor from the perspective of surveillance detection because individuals have a tendency to appear unnatural when dressing in a manner that does not conform to their standard of fashion. A surveillance operator may be required to dress in a manner that is not natural for him in order to blend in with a particular situation and surrounding. The appearance of dress and mannerisms associated with discomfort or unfamiliarity may be detected by the Principal.Dress is an aspect of appearance that is more readily observed from a distance than many others, such as body features. Unless someone is making an active effort to observe the dress of surrounding individuals, his attention will normally be drawn only to clothing that does not conform to his standards.

Unique, striking, or colorful clothing will usually draw involuntary attention. Although clothing is an important criterion for the observation of surrounding individuals for detection purposes, a sophisticated surveillance team will make efforts to minimize the impact that dress might have on the compromise of surveillance operators. They will there ore dress in a manner that conforms to the standards of the surrounding populace. Furthermore, the surveillance effort will likely capitalize on the ease with which appearance can be altered by changing clothing in order to degrade the effectiveness of surveillance detection. Dress also includes jewelry. A sophisticated surveillance effort will generally forego wearing it because the purpose of jewelry is to attract attention-which, of course, the surveillance effort is actively attempting to avoid. There are, however, some cases in which wearing jewelry lends itself to surveillance detection. Most basically, there are some minor items of jewelry, such as wedding bands and watches, that surveillance operators may continue to wear despite the risk. A watch is an extremely important piece of equipment to surveillance operators. Since they will rarely own enough watches to match the number of times they are required to change clothing, they will generally accept the risk of wearing the same watch. Rings will generally leave identifiable marks such as tan lines on the fingers. When a surveillance operator changes clothing, he may opt to continue wearing a ring if there is no replacement, because otherwise the resulting identifiable mark will appear even more conspicuous to the individual practicing surveillance detection.

Observation of Disguise

The fact that a sophisticated surveillance effort will use disguise to minimize the probability of detection is n aspect of surveillance detection that can make observation difficult. The initial exposure of a surveillance operator to the Principal is not critical, but all subsequent instances of exposure disproportionately increase the probability of detection. The use of disguise allows a surveillance team to project the appearance of different individuals, making it much more difficult for the Principal to isolate a single surveillance operator for detection. Recall that for the purposes of surveillance detection, observation involves concentrating on features, form, dress, and mannerisms. Surveillance operators use disguise to alter each of these aspects of appearance and thereby deceive the Principal. Many characteristics of appearance are easy to alter, while others are difficult if not impossible. Most features require extensive disguising techniques to conceal or alter. The primary exception to this is hair, which is the single most effective means of altering appearance. By cutting, dying, or restyling hair, or shaving facial hair, a surveillance operator can drastically alter his appearance.Form is altered primarily by clothing. Changing to or from loose-fitting clothing can project the illusion of a different form. Deceptive devices such as shoulder pads or pregnancy pillows may also be used to alter form. Height can only be altered by thick-soled or heeled shoes, which are readily detectable through observation.

Changing posture can also alter form. Surveillance operators use clothing to alter appearance by simply changing clothing from one portion of a surveillance operation to another. Altering mannerisms is more difficult because it requires constant concentration on the part of a surveillance operator. Some mannerisms are physically impossible to alter or conceal. Although disguise makes surveillance detection much more difficult, there are techniques that can be used to minimize its effectiveness. The first critical factor to understand is that if a disguise is not complete, it actually increases the surveillance operator’s vulnerability to detection by an actively observant Principal. Normally the degree of disguise that a surveillance operator employs is proportionate to the degree to which he has been exposed to the Principal. This is a subjective judgment that is also influenced by an assessment of how observant the Principal may be. In many cases the surveillance operator will employ only a partial disguise as a standard security precaution after a period of minimal exposure to the Principal. A total disguise is reserved for circumstances in which the surveillance operator was forced relatively close to, or received a degree of scrutiny from, the Principal. This can be exploited in surveillance detection. The Principal should practice observation in a manner that is natural and unalarming. This serves to deceive surveillance operators into employing partial disguise as opposed to total disguise. One of the most effective methods of surveillance detection is to confirm that a surveillance operator is using disguise. By using a partial disguise, a surveillance operator may alter some characteristics of appearance while leaving others unaltered. For example, the  urveillance operator may shave his mustache, restyle his hair, and change clothes, but leave on the same pair of shoes, the same atch, and walk with the same stride. This can completely reverse the effects of disguise by confirming to the observant Principal that surveillance is present.

Observation at Night

Observation is significantly limited at night due the obvious physiological limitations of the eyes. Visual illusions are also common when observing at night. An understanding of the principles of darkness adaptation will assist in the effectiveness of night observation. Darkness adaptation is the process by which the human eye increases in sensitivity to low levels of light. Since vision is made possible by reflected light, effective observation is directly proportional to the degree of light available. Although individuals vary in degrees and rates of dark adaptation, eye sensitivity generally increases about 10,000 times during the first 30 minutes in the dark. After that point eye sensitivity increases very little. Visual sharpness at night is about one-seventh of what it is during the day, significantly reducing visual acuity. This dictates that object identification at night is generally limited to silhouettes and forms. Depth and color perception are also affected. At night, color perception is generally limited to distinguishing between light and dark colors, and even this is dependent on the intensity of reflected light. Adaptation is adversely affected by exposure to bright lights  such as matches and headlights. In order to maintain darkness adaptation, the eyes should be covered to avoid the effects of such lights. Recall that initial adaptation takes up to 30 minutes. Recovery from exposure to bright lights can take up to 45 min utes. Adaptation to darkness is adversely affected by the use of night vision devices. If full adaptation is made before using night vision devices, however, it can be regained within two minutes after their use. The use of night vision devices decreases the senses of hearing and smell due to the concentration required for effective sight. There are two methods of observation that can be used to enhance visual effectiveness in darkness. Both are based on the fact that central viewing, or looking directly at an object, is ineffective at night due to the night blind spot that exists during low illumination. At night, it is essential to avoid looking directly at a faintly visible object because of this night blind spot.Scanning is a method which enables the Principal to overcome many of the physiological limitations of the eyes as well as reducing confusing visual illusions in darkness. This method consists of scanning from left to right, or right to left, using a slow, standardized eye movement. Figure 1 depicts two typical scan ning patterns. Off-center viewing is another way to avoid the limitations of central viewing at night. This technique consists of viewing an object by looking slightly above, below, or to either side rather than directly at it. Figure 2 depicts points of observation (circles) around the target object.

Even when off-center viewing is used, the image of an object becomes a solid, bleached-out tone when viewed for longer than three to five seconds. For this reason, it is important to shift the eyes regularly from one off-center point to another to maintain an uninterrupted peripheral field of vision.

I hope this article has enlightened you on the skills required for our job. It sure aint easy and it is why we charge what we do and deliver what we promise to!

Author Bio

Amit Sen, a commercial pilot by training, has over 15 years experience in the space of corporate investigations, handling Copyright & Trademark infringement cases, Pre – employment verification Industrial Espionage investigations, Asset & Net – Worth assessment assignments and vendor / supplier verification cases, among others. Co-founder of Alliance One – which is the best private investigation firm in India. Amit has also successfully completed assignments in a wide range of sectors, including the machine tools industry, pharmaceutical industry, hospitality sector, specialized equipment (Oil & natural gas sector, aviation industry etc.), telecom industry & the IT & ITes sectors. These cases have all involved both offline and online investigations.

Article edited and co-written by Atin Dasgupta who is the co-founder and marketing head of Alliance One. Read more about Atin here.

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How You Can Avoid Being Followed

How You Can Avoid Being Followed

How to Avoid Being Followed

On surveillance cases, subjects may attempt to identify or shake surveillance when they begin movement. This activity is known as “dry cleaning.” Some of the tricks that a smart subject may employ (and could be employed by any subject who has read a novel or watched a movie about spies or the police) include the following. BTW these are also useful tips that you yourself could implement in the future if you suspect you are being followed by someone or a team.

A. In and Out.

Buildings, stores and shops are used by the subjects to go in and come out quickly. This activity often forces the investigator to follow the subject in and out of those same buildings, and therefore become familiar to the subject.

B. Ducks in a Row.

Basically there are four maneuvers used by the subjects to draw out surveillance and line them up like “ducks in a row.”

1. Stops (see Long and Short Stays)

a. Expressway Turn-Off.

Counter-surveillance will be sitting near the ramp ready to identify all the vehicles coming off behind the subject, or the subject will simply observe who follows them off the highway.

b. Reverse.

The subject will drive into a park or housing area where he knows the road just loops around and comes out the same way. With only one way in and out, any surveillance vehicles which follow him in will be easily identified by him as he drives out!

c. Choking.

The subject will try to find a bridge, tunnel or road where the surveillance team has no alternative but to line up and follow—a chokepoint. At the other end, counter-surveillance will be waiting to identify surveillance vehicles as they come out of the chokepoint.


Subjects will look in the window reflections to spot surveillance. Another favorite trick is to enter a store and then look out the window. It is difficult for the surveillance team to look in, but the subject can easily see out.

3. Stores.

Subjects will go straight to the back of a store and browse from back to front. They can then try to spot surveillance as it enters. Normally people will enter and browse from front to back.

4. Restaurants.

Subjects use time as the main factor to detect surveillance. If anyone follows them in, they believe it to be surveillance. If our investigator decides to follow the subject into a restaurant, we ensure that if we order food, we order something which can be received quickly, so that the subject does not leave without us. If we see the subject leave before we receive our food, we leave our food behind and follow the subject. You can be reimbursed for the money you wasted, but losing the subject may result in a tremendous loss for us and the client!

C. Movement/No Movement.

Another favorite technique of subjects is to draw surveillance into a place where there is a great deal of movement (a busy street) and then just stop. The opposite would be to draw surveillance into an area where there is no movement and then quickly move through the area. They are looking for movement when there should be none and no movement when there should be movement.

D. Out of Uniform.

The subject will start off in one venue or part of town, but quickly move to another where the clothes you are wearing may not be appropriate. A favourite trick is to go from a business district (i.e. where business suits are appropriate) to a park (where suits are not appropriate), or from the hotel restaurant to the pool.

E. Change of Venue.

This is similar to Out of Uniform. Basically, the subject will try to draw out surveillance by moving into different areas to make it more difficult for the surveillance to cover them, force decision making process and communications.

F. Eyes.

The subject will walk down a very busy street. Suddenly, he will stop and turn around very quickly, looking at the people following him. He is looking for the one set of eyes that are looking away because everyone else will probably be looking at them since they stopped abruptly!

G. Throw-Aways (bait).

Subjects will throw an item away in plain view. This diverts your attention and eyes. While you are looking one way, they may be noting the numbers on a telephone pole the other way. If someone stops to pick up the bait, counter-surveillance may then burn the surveillance. The basic philosophy behind all of these tricks is to force the investigator into making a decision. Foreign intelligence services used to say that they believed that if they forced the decision-making process, the investigator would make the wrong decision 50 percent of the time. Remember, however, we are not the only ones who make mistakes. The subject is just as likely to make mistakes as we are, and very often we can take advantage of those mistakes.

Subject Vulnerabilities

avoid surveillance tipsThe subjects themselves often create vulnerabilities that can be exploited by investigators. In other words, they are human too, and humans make mistakes. However, if we do not know whether these vulnerabilities exist, we cannot take advantage of them. The following are some basic considerations we are always aware of in surveillance cases:

• We must know all we can about the subject prior to the surveillance. There is often a great deal of information readily available to us about the subject that we can gain through our subject study mentioned previously.

• We must think from the subject’s perspective. We need to keep our “face” (surveillance) as small as possible.

• We must “freeze the scene” on every surveillance. We should plan and conduct our surveillance so that we always come away with something. We must gather all available information and then analyze and exploit the information.

• Think Beyond Placement. We often develop good surveillance plans and place investigators in good locations but fail to think beyond the initial placement. Each investigator should know exactly what she or he is supposed to do, observe, and record while in place, and where she or he is supposed to go when activity occurs.

• Come out of the subject area the same way you went in. If you go in covertly, then come out covertly. We very often terminate a surveillance only to have a client come back later and request more work be done. If we “heat up” the subject, we are only making our job harder.

• Anticipate the unexpected. Plan, plan, plan.

• Always assume there is counter surveillance, regardless of what type of investigation you are conducting. Subjects in all types of investigations have been known to have friends or accomplices observe the area or transactions to detect if any police or investigators are present. No matter what type of subject you are surveilling, there are always going to be mistakes by the subject that you may be able to exploit. At the same time, we must guard against making mistakes ourselves. If we plan for our own movements and actions and watch for mistakes made by the subject, we can increase our chances to conduct a successful surveillance and achieve the objectives we set out to achieve.

Author Bio

Amit Sen, a commercial pilot by training, has over 15 years experience in the space of corporate investigations, handling Copyright & Trademark infringement cases, Pre – employment verification Industrial Espionage investigations, Asset & Net – Worth assessment assignments and vendor / supplier verification cases, among others. Co-founder of Alliance One – which is the best private investigation detectives in India. Amit has also successfully completed assignments in a wide range of sectors, including the machine tools industry, pharmaceutical industry, hospitality sector, specialized equipment (Oil & natural gas sector, aviation industry etc.), telecom industry & the IT & ITes sectors. These cases have all involved both offline and online investigations

Article edited and co-written by Atin Dasgupta who is the co-founder and marketing head of Alliance One. Read more about Atin here.

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3 Times And You Are Burned

3 Times And You Are Burned

You will soon know what I mean by the title of this article! But first let me get to the importance of a Subject Study. A subject study is the complete and systematic study and analysis of the subject of our investigation. The purpose of the subject study is to  learn as much as possible about the subject’s character, personality, habits, lifestyle, finances, activities, and motivation, so that adequate planning can be accomplished to further an investigation or to conduct surveillance. In our investigations, much of this information is provided to us by our clients, and other aspects of the subject are learned by database searches conducted before the surveillance begins.

In conjunction with area casing which you can read about in an earlier article here, a complete study of the subject must also be accomplished to understand how he or she fits into the environment. The following are some factors to consider but are  not all inclusive, depending on the type of investigation:

• Detailed physical description of subject and her or his clothes and shoes. Photographs are extremely helpful, especially from the back and sides.

• Finances, credit cards, spending habits, and location of banks used.

• Mannerisms, personal habits, walk, gait (emphasis should be on peculiarities contributing to ready identification, particularly from a distance or from the sides and rear of the subject).

• Description of any vehicles owned or used by subject, friends, relatives, and associates.

• Transportation habits and routes used.

• Hobbies.

• How does subject spend leisure time?

• Daily habits and routines.

• Work habits and schedule.

• Assessment of the probable degree of suspicion the subject may have toward being under investigation or surveillance.

• Personality.

• Motivation and ambition.

• Character.

• Arrest record and database checks.

• Travel history and currency of passports.

• Names, addresses, locations, and identities of associates and places frequented. An attempt should be made to fully identify all persons contacted by subject.

As investigators, we have been taught from the beginning that one of the most important aspects of an investigation usually is or can be the effective use of informants. It is no different in surveillance operations. As you can tell from what we have discussed here, preparation is certainly one of the key ingredients in a surveillance operation, and knowing how to adequately prepare for that  surveillance and then doing it will go a long way toward making your job both easier and more successful.


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Our Investigators Are No Models and look average helping them to mix in a crowd

Having a team of trained investigators available to conduct a surveillance operation is great, but in almost all of the surveillances we conduct, we are forced to use only one investigator, or sometimes two, to conduct surveillance. It is a simple matter of economics. There is no reason we cannot conduct a successful surveillance just because we have limited manpower. Although it does reduce our flexibility in many instances, most often it is still done successfully. As proof, we do it every day.

Foot and vehicle surveillance are the keys to many surveillance situations encountered. In almost every surveillance operation, even the sparsely manned ones, we will be required to conduct some type of foot and vehicle surveillance coverage or, at a minimum, be prepared to conduct each type of surveillance if it becomes necessary.
Although surveillance could be conducted by a single investigator, the success of this will depend solely on the ability of the investigator and often on good fortune. The distance between the subject and the investigator is usually either too great or too far, and the subject must be kept in view at all times by the single investigator, which increases the risk of being identified as surveillance. A one-person surveillance does not provide for any flexibility.

The subject study is especially important in one-person surveillance operations. Knowledge of what to expect from the subject (i.e. where he or she normally goes, does, etc.) will help decrease face time with the subject and allow the investigator to increase the distance between herself or himself and the subject. One-person surveillances are usually most effective in situations in which counter-surveillance or suspicion of surveillance by the subject is unlikely. Very often it is advantageous to conduct a fixed-point surveillance with one person because it will often attract less attention than two people. There are some obvious drawbacks, however, such as no relief, more demand on concentration and therefore fatigue of a single investigator, and single-witness problems should the subject be observed doing something illegal. We try to overcome that problem through the capturing of the subject on videotape.

The use of at least two investigators greatly increases the chances of success because the second agent does allow for some flexibility. With two investigators, the position of an investigator directly behind the subject in a moving surveillance can be changed as often as possible and allows for relatively close positioning of the investigator behind the subject. The use of two investigators affords greater security against detection and reduces the risk of losing the subject. In foot  surveillance, both investigators would normally be on the same side of the street as the subject, with the first being fairly close behind the subject. The second investigator is positioned behind the first with more distance between them. On streets that are not crowded, one investigator may walk on the opposite side of the street. Unfortunately, we are seldom afforded the luxury of a second investigator, and it is therefore extremely important that each investigator be the best investigator he or she possibly can be.


surveillance following detectives mumbai pune

Surveillance Requires Expertise

Surveillance does not mean that we just simply follow a subject. This is only one facet of surveillance activity. Surveillances should be conducted in a manner in which we try to make our subjects predictable, yet we avoid being predictable ourselves. Fortunately, subjects are human and therefore make mistakes on which we can (hopefully) capitalize.

In this section, let me discuss vulnerabilities, both ours and theirs. Although we may sometimes encounter counter-surveillance, many vulnerabilities are common to most surveillance operations and may be exploited to our advantage. We will look at the following areas related to surveillance vulnerabilities:

1. keys to detecting surveillance

2. surveillance dry cleaning

3. subject vulnerabilities

We will examine some of the areas that the opposition will focus on and review some of the possible ways we might be able to exploit the subject’s perception of our methods.

Keys to Detecting Surveillance

3 Times & You Are Burned

As a general rule of thumb, a lesson we have learned from international counterintelligence surveillances is that foreign intelligence officers marked a person as surveillance if they spotted the person (or vehicle) three times, separated by time and distance. This does not mean that they did not mark people as surveillance the first time they were spotted if they were careless and obviously conducting surveillance, but the third time spotted was an automatic mark. You can also assume that even in insurance, criminal, and fraud surveillances, if the subject spots you three or more times, you are probably burned. To help detect surveillance, the subjects “key” on several areas:

• Commonalities

A lesson we learn from counterintelligence surveillances is that subjects look for things that do not change. Examples could be an investigator who changes his jacket and pants but not his shoes or glasses. Each investigator should carry at least one complete change of clothing to reduce the things that are obvious and do not change. Always consider belt buckles, jewelry, and shoes. Make your change complete. Hats and glasses are an excellent addition that makes an investigator look completely different. If a claimant is getting used to the way you look, these items can give you a fresh look and make you unrecognizable to a subject.

• Uniforms

For some reason, if a group of investigators were gathered together and told to prepare for a surveillance operation tomorrow, the majority of them would report wearing the “uniform”: blue jeans and sneakers and if it was winter a flannel shirt and in summer a T-shirt with a logo emblazoned across the chest and a baseball cap. Surveillance does not mean dressing down. However, many of our subjects look for the “typical” surveillance uniform worn by investigators because they know this is how surveillance people dress. Common sense will tell you that subjects also know that we dress down for surveillance work, because they watch television and see the uniform. We can exploit this weakness by changing our uniforms and dressing appropriately for the environment and the subject. It is the responsibility of each investigator to decide what he or she will wear on any given day of a surveillance operation. Because subjects often travel through a variety of environments, the investigators will want to ensure that they are not always dressed the same but that a variety of dress styles or “classes” are represented so that they can move freely in those particular environments.

• Long Stays/Short Stays

The subject may stop in a building, movie theater, store, restaurant, and so on, where it is anticipated she or he will remain for a period of time. Investigators “collapse” around the building waiting for the subject to reappear. While everyone is waiting, investigators become bored, thirsty, and lonely, often moving, changing positions, and often “bunching up.” Investigators usually anticipate the subject will be making a long stay, and they will not be detected. Subjects often depart before the investigators think they will, and the investigators are caught off guard. The investigators scatter in an attempt to resume their positions.

• Vehicles

It is often hard to disguise cars. Make your surveillance ve hicles have a personality. Add car seats, trailer hitches, and bump er stickers. Keeping your surveillance vehicle ultra-clean and highly waxed or extremely dirty may draw more attention to it than if it has a normal amount of road dirt on it.

• Vehicle Usage

Remember, many of our subjects are involved in illegal activity; that is, they are defrauding the insurance company. As such, many of them are highly suspicious of surveillance, because they know it can cut off their supply of money from the insurance company. Subjects look for the investigator by looking for cars turning in behind them from the right. They will put themselves in your shoes and look for the most logical place for you to be. In vehicle surveillances, they expect you to make a right turn into traffic to follow them since this is easier for you to accomplish than to cross against traffic. Psychologists tell us that subjects will be more conscious of surveillance during the first 10 percent of their trip and the last 10 percent of their trip. In other words, the longer you can delay the pickup, the less likely you will be burned in surveillance.

• Highway Courtesy

If you drive with extreme courtesy during surveillance you will most likely be marked as surveillance. For example, if you are trying to keep a car between you and the subject, but traffic is light and you keep slowing down at highway entrance ramps to let cars pass and get in front of you, you call attention to yourself. So we must be natural and normal in driving, and in some cities, being courteous is not the norm for drivers.

• Peeking

Finally, you manage to get a vehicle in front of you, but it just happens to be a bus. You cannot see what your subject is doing or where he is going. So you ease out gently, just enough to peek around the bus at your subject. Once you are satisfied he or she is still in front, you ease back in behind the bus and breathe a sigh of relief. After a short distance, you become worried because you cannot see the subject and you peek again. Peeking will get your surveillance blown in a very short time. Some of the activities we spoke about before now can result in the inadvertent or accidental disclosure of the surveillance to the subject. However, there are subjects who will purposely act to try to identify surveillance following them.

Surveillance Dry Cleaning

Subjects may attempt to identify or shake surveillance when they begin movement. This activity is known as “dry cleaning.” We will touch more upon this in a later post. But I hope this post has enlightened you about the extraordinary skills of our ordinary sleuths!

Author Bio

Amit Sen, a commercial pilot by training, has over 15 years experience in the space of corporate investigations, handling Copyright & Trademark infringement cases, Pre – employment verification Industrial Espionage investigations, Asset & Net – Worth assessment assignments and vendor / supplier verification cases, among others. Co-founder of Alliance One – which is the best private investigation agency in India. Amit has also successfully completed assignments in a wide range of sectors, including the machine tools industry, pharmaceutical industry, hospitality sector, specialized equipment (Oil & natural gas sector, aviation industry etc.), telecom industry & the IT & ITes sectors. These cases have all involved both offline and online investigations

Article edited and co-written by Atin Dasgupta who is the co-founder and marketing head of Alliance One. Read more about Atin here.

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The Stakeout The Pick Up The Follow And The Box

The Stakeout The Pick Up The Follow And The Box

The stakeout, the pick-up, the follow, and the box – sounds like the name of the latest Guy Ritchie Movie doesn’t it? Well this is private investigation jargon especially in the light of surveillance operations. In an earlier post I had touched upon surveillance services for an individual or corporation. Today let me touch upon counter-surveillance which is the exact opposite i.e. to detect whether someone is conducting surveillance on you and to thwart their efforts. As one of the top anti-surveillance operators in India today, we are called upon on many cases where a client suspects that he / she is being spied upon or is being followed. So our job is to detect the circumstances under which the person is being surveilled and provide countermeasures for him / her so that any future surveillance activity by someone is hampered. Surveillance countermeasures are conducted and based directly on the tactics of surveillance they are used to detect or defeat, and thus a keen understanding of the opposition’s tactics is essential to their effective execution. Here in this article I will try and detail how the surveillance threat operates.

This article is by no means a comprehensive tutorial on surveillance; rather, it is designed as an overview to be used as the basis for understanding the way that someone could have put you under surveillance. The countermeasures principles and tactics that our private intelligence agency follows in counter surveillance operations will depend upon our knowledge of surveillance and as such if you value your privacy you must know the various methods of surveillance that an investigation agency follows so that you can be armed with the knowledge of the preventive measures that we will undertake later.

* When I use the word Principle I mean the person who is being followed. 


Being Followed Snooped Upon

Anyone Anywhere Can Get the Scoop on Your Life!

Physical surveillance is the systematic, discreet observation of an individual to develop information regarding his activities. It differs from technical surveillance in that our surveillance operators must observe the Principal physically. It is the only means by which a Principal can be observed constantly over an extended period of time. A professional and effective surveillance is orchestrated in a systematic manner. This is accomplished through tactics that will ensure discreet coverage of a Principal.

A surveillance operation can only be effective if it goes undetected by the Principal or anyone else, such as neighbors, associates, employees, passersby, and so on. Surveillance is employed to identify and document significant activities of a Principal that satisfy the objectives of the specific operation. Developing information through surveillance is a progressive and often lengthy process. It is from many pieces of information that an overall picture of the Principal’s behavioral patterns is developed.

A surveillance operation will normally begin with limited information regarding the Principal’s activities. It may begin by developing such information in order to identify those times or activities on which to focus the surveillance effort. As information is developed, target pattern analysis is conducted to determine which patterns the surveillance team can exploit to anticipate the Principal’s actions more effectively. This also enables the surveillance team to determine which times and activities may be significant in satisfying the objectives of the operation, as opposed to those that are routine and insignificant, allowing it to cover a Principal efficiently by concentrating on those with the highest potential payoff. It also serves to limit the amount of time that surveillance operators and vehicles maybe exposed to the Principal.

A surveillance vehicle or operator can use anything that offers concealment to obstruct the Principal’s view. A surveillance vehicle provides a degree of concealment, as do structures such as buildings. Another example of concealment might be the positioning of a surveillance operator inside a building so as to observe the Principal out of the windows. Darkness is another form of concealment. Cover and cover for action are concepts that are extremely critical to the effectiveness and security of any surveillance operation. Cover is a broad term that generally applies to anything a surveillance operator or vehicle uses to appear natural when observation by the Principal, countersurveillance, or any other third parties is possible.

During a foot surveillance operation, cover consists primarily of pedestrians in the area. During a vehicular surveillance operation, cover consists primarily of vehicular traffic on the roads. In both situations, the surrounding traffic enables the surveillance operator or vehicle to blend in and appear as any other pedestrian or vehicle. Cover for action is a more specific term that refers to actions the surveillance operator takes to establish a plausible reason for being in a given location or undertaking a given activity. For example, a surveillance operator can use a telephone booth for cover, but he must actually place money in the phone and make a call to establish a cover for action.

There are two primary types of physical surveillance: fixed and mobile.

Fixed Surveillance

Fixed surveillance consists of observing the Principal’s activities at a specified location from a static position. Such operations will only satisfy specific objectives because they provide limited insight into the Principal’s overall activities. They are normally employed when it is suspected that the Principal will conduct protected activities at a specific location, such as his residence, his workplace, an associate’s residence, or an establishment he frequents. Fixed positions are normally manned by surveillance operators or monitored through remote video equipment. A surveillance team may use any number of fixed positions during a fixed surveillance operation. One common example of a fixed surveillance is when the surveillance team establishes static positions along designated route to confirm the Principal’s direction of travel. Most fixed surveillance operations use an established observation post that enables surveillance operators to maintain constant, discreet observation of the specified location.

Mobile Surveillance

Mobile surveillance is employed to satisfy any objectives of physical surveillance that cannot be accomplished through a fixed operation. In mobile surveillance operations, the surveillance team observes the Principal’s activities while he is traveling. Of course, this requires that surveillance operators and vehicles move with him. Mobile surveillance operations are conducted either on foot, by vehicle, or with a combination of both. Mobile and fixed surveillance may be used concurrently to enhance the effectiveness of an operation. Fixed observation posts are frequently employed to support mobile surveillance operations.

Phases of a Mobile Surveillance Operation

A mobile surveillance operation is a fluid sequence of tactical maneuvers that are dictated primarily by the actions of the Principal. (This is not to say that the Principal has any advantage against a professional surveillance effort.) In order to effectively cover the Principal, the team must maintain synchronization through a phased operation with a unity of tactical discipline and purpose.

A comprehensive surveillance operation is conducted in four phases: the stakeout, the pick-up, the follow, and the box. It will progress through these phases based on the Principal’s actions. Ideally, an operation will move through these four phases and then shift the order in which they are implemented in reaction to the Principal’s activities.

The stakeout involves positioning surveillance vehicles or operators based on how the team intends to establish initial command of the Principal. This consists of the logical coverage of a specified area to ensure that when the Principal appears, the team will be able make a smooth and effective transition from static positions to a mobile surveillance follow. This is accomplished primarily by the use of a boxing method intended to cover all routes of travel into and out of the specified area.The pick-up occurs when the surveillance team establishes initial command of the Principal. It is the result of a successful stakeout or surveillance box. The follow begins immediately after the pick-up.

This phase encompasses all aspects of the surveillance operation that occur while the Principal is under command. The box phase begins as the Principal stops during a surveillance follow. As with the takeout box, a standard surveillance box is a logical positioning of surveillance vehicles or operators to cover all routes of travel out of a specified area. The primary difference between the two types of boxes is that with the standard surveillance box, there is a degree of command over the Principal because the surveillance team is certain he is positioned somewhere within the box.

Methods of Mobile Surveillance

There are four primary methods of mobile physical surveillance: vehicular surveillance, foot surveillance, combined foot and vehicular surveillance, and progressive surveillance.

The first three are purely mobile surveillance; progressive surveillance makes use of mobile surveillance, fixed surveillance, or a combination of the two.

Vehicular Surveillance

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You Could be Right Now Being Followed, Videotaped, Bugged & Spied Upon!

Vehicular surveillance operations are conducted to determine the Principal’s activities while traveling by vehicle. They are normally used to determine general travel patterns rather than to develop specific information. Vehicular surveillance is effective when employed at the outset of an operation to collect data for target pattern analysis while minimizing the initial exposure of operators to the Principal. Vehicular surveillance is an integral aspect of most physical surveillance operations. The Principal will rarely travel exclusively by foot. Even when operating against a Principal who travels primarily by public transportation, the surveillance team must rely on vehicles for control and mobility. Although the surveillance team will rarely observe a Principal conducting protected activity while traveling by vehicle, it is understood that the Principal will travel by vehicle to reach the location where such activity may occur.Vehicular and foot surveillance share many operational tactics.

Vehicular surveillance, however, is a more exact science because routes of travel are generally restricted to, or channelized by, established roadways. This can be used to the advantage of a capable surveillance team, but in the same way, it can be used to the advantage of a resourceful Principal. There is also less maneuverability in vehicular surveillance because a surveillance vehicle has less flexibility to turn around and reposition discreetly. This disadvantage is overcome only by expertise in teamwork and tactical applications.

A vehicular surveillance will begin with the stakeout of a specified location at which the surveillance team expects to establish initial command of the Principal. The location is selected based on assumptions about when and where the Principal is likely to appear. Primary stakeout locations are the Principal’s residence and workplace. The Principal is normally expected to stay the night at his residence, depart sometime during the day, and return to his residence by the end of the day. He can also be expected to appear at his place of work with some degree of regularity. These standard patterns provide the surveillants with locations that promise a high probability of establishing command of the Principal.

The tactics normally used for staking out an area to pick up the Principal for a mobile surveillance follow are referred to as boxing. A stakeout is basically a logical positioning of surveillance vehicles to attain initial command of a Principal as he either travels through a specified area or emerges from it. The stakeout box conists of positioning surveillance vehicles in such a manner as to control routes of travel out of a specified area. These vehicles are positioned for pick-up as the principle drives out of the stakeout box along any of the possible routes of travel. The surveillance team may use an observation post to observe a specific location in support of its stakeout. Observation posts are normally positioned to observe a residence, business, or workplace. Using an observation post saves the team from having to expose a vehicle in order to observe the location. A surveillance team may also employ a mobile observation post, normally a van that can be parked within line of sight of the target location for observation.The pick-up phase of the surveillance begins when the Principal is first observed and ends when the follow phase begins. The follow phase begins after the Principal exits the stakeout box and the surveillance vehicle along his route of travel maneuvers to assume command of him for the mobile surveillance follow.

The follow phase encompasses all surveillance activities conducted while the Principal is mobile. During the follow, the surveillance team must have at least one vehicle (the command vehicle) with visual observation of the Principal, normally following from behind. The following distance of the vehicular surveillance team will be dictated primarily by the terrain, available cover, traffic obstacles, and traffic hazards. Cover will normally consist of surrounding traffic into which the team can blend to appear natural. Traffic obstacles such as dense traffic, traffic signals, and construction zones may deter the surveillance team from maintaining command of the Principal. Therefore, the team will normally need to maintain a closer following distance when confronted by significant traffic obstacles. Traffic hazards such as highway interchanges offer the Principal high-speed or multiple avenues of escape. Since it is important that the surveillants have command of the Principal when entering a traffic hazard, they will normally close their following distance when approaching one. A tactically sound surveillance team will exchange command vehicle positions frequently during the course of the follow to remain discreet and minimize the exposure of any one vehicle.

This may be done at any time but primarily in reaction to a turn by the Principal. Exposure can also be minimized by utilizing the cover and concealment of surrounding traffic.Communications equipment is critical to the vehicular surveillance team. The ability of all of the surveillance vehicles to communicate allows them to rely on the transmissions of the command vehicle to guide their activities. This enables team members to maneuver effectively without having to rely on their visual observations of the Principal or other surveillance vehicles. A surveillance vehicle normally has two operators, a driver and a navigator. The navigator reads a map and directs the driver. When in the command vehicle position, the navigator transmits the Principal’s location and actions to the entire team. Otherwise, the navigator will monitor the radio in order to track the Principal’s location on the map and direct the driver to maneuver in a manner that supports the operation.The mobile surveillance follow will transition directly to the box phase anytime the Principal stops, excluding normal traffic stops. This consists of the surveillance team maneuvering to box positions around the Principal’s stopping point. As with the stakeout box, surveillance vehicles will establish positions along each of the Principal’s possible routes of departure in order to pick him up when he begins to move and leaves the box location.

The surveillance team will normally position a vehicle in a location from which its occupants can physically observe the stationary Principal vehicle and inform the team when it begins to move. As the Principal begins to move, the pick-up phase is again initiated. The follow phase begins again after the Principal exits the box and the surveillance vehicle along his route of travel maneuvers to assume command of him for the mobile surveillance follow.

Night surveillance operations are significantly different from those conducted in daytime. The basic tactics remain the same, but darkness imposes many additional considerations. The very nature of night surveillance dictates that the surveillance team must concentrate on more technically intricate concepts and tactical applications. This may include the use of night vision equipment or specialized controls to prevent the surveillance vehicle’s brake lights from projecting when the brake pedal is engaged. Since the surveillance vehicle’s lights are the most visible signature the team will project to the Principal, the lights must be in proper working order and must not project in an unusual manner that may bring the vehicle to the Principal’s attention.

Due to the darkness, it is difficult for the Principal to recognize a surveillance vehicle by any means other than the lights. This is an advantage in itself, but there are many disadvantages inherent in this aspect of night surveillance as well. These are directly related to the fact that there is generally less traffic cover at night. In crowded urban areas, the lights of surrounding vehicles can make the surveillance team virtually invisible to the Principal. As the hour gets later and the traffic density decreases, the surveillance vehicle’s lights make it virtually impossible for it to remain discreet. In the absence of sufficient cover, vehicle lights are detectable at a significant distance, making it easier for the Principal to detect surveillance vehicles.

I hope the above post has given you an insight about the strategic planning and teamwork that we employ for an anti-surveillance operation. And you though us private investigators have a glamorous job! I will touch upon other methods namely: foot surveillance, combined foot and vehicular surveillance, and progressive surveillance in a future post. Remember it is very easy to follow someone and find out intimate details of a person's private life. If you fear that you are being followed, do not hesitate to give me a call on +91 +91 98206 07875 and we will find out exactly who is following you and put steps in place to prevent them from doing so in the future.

Author Bio

Amit Sen, a commercial pilot by training, has over 15 years experience in the space of corporate investigations, handling Copyright & Trademark infringement cases, Pre – employment verification Industrial Espionage investigations, Asset & Net – Worth assessment assignments and vendor / supplier verification cases, among others. Co-founder of Alliance One – which is the best private investigation agency in India. Amit has also successfully completed assignments in a wide range of sectors, including the machine tools industry, pharmaceutical industry, hospitality sector, specialized equipment (Oil & natural gas sector, aviation industry etc.), telecom industry & the IT & ITes sectors. These cases have all involved both offline and online investigations

Article edited and co-written by Atin Dasgupta who is the co-founder and marketing head of Alliance One. Read more about Atin here.

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Defining the Techniques of Surveillance

Defining the Techniques of Surveillance

For private investigation firms like ours, there is probably no more important skill to master than that of conducting surveillanceSurveillance is the cornerstone of many investigation businesses, and it is the successful conduct of surveillance that makes or breaks their reputation and, therefore, their ability to make a living. Let me make our surveillance techniques clear to you so that if you are hiring our services you can understand better our techniques.

Surveillance is the surreptitious (unseen) observation of a person, people, or site. Surveillance can be recorded by written notes, dictation, still camera, or video camera. There are numerous elements in conducting a successful surveillance. Many of these will be discussed in detail in our blog, but there are four critical aspects that we always follow, the lack of any of which will render our surveillance unsuccessful. Those four elements are as follows:

1. Locating and positively identifying the subject of the surveillance.

2. Remaining concealed; that is, not getting burned.

3. Operating the camera to produce professional results.

4. Successfully tailing (not losing) the subject.

Ignore the above fundas, and the private investigator will surely fail.

Imagine that you have been given the assignment of conducting surveillance on an important insurance claim. More than Rs. 1 crore in potential settlement fees ride on whether you can successfully take video of the claimant, who is suspected of faking a back injury. You set up across the street from the subject’s house in your car. He comes out of the house sometime later and drives away toward town. You follow, barely able to keep an eye on him, let alone see what he is doing. Suddenly he runs a red light, and you decide to follow him. He notices you do it and drives straight home. When he arrives home, he notices your vehicle stopping a few houses down the street. Your surveillance is blown, but what did you do wrong? Everything! Before we can conduct a successful surveillance, we must first know what it is. In order to learn about the foundations of surveillance, we are going to dissect surveillance operations and see just what surveillance is and is not.


To some degree we all have been involved in some form or type of surveillance activity, but do we really understand what surveillance is? Webster’s Dictionary defines surveillance as the “close watch kept over someone or something (as by a detective).” For our purposes, we define surveillance as the deliberate, systematic, and continuous observation or monitoring of an area, person, or group of persons by any means without the consent of all persons being observed or monitored. Surveillance is an investigative tool that if properly employed, can bring about a successful resolution to an investigation. Surveillance is quite limited in scope and purpose. Only when we have clearly identifiable surveillance objectives will surveillance operations be initiated.


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The primary purpose of surveillance operations is to gather intelligence. We want to learn what is going on. Once we have gathered intelligence, it can be used to decide what further investigative steps or actions need to be accomplished. Once we have decided that we do in fact need to conduct surveillance, we need to figure out how we want to approach this surveillance. Is it important that the claimant, or subject as we shall call him, not know he is being surveilled. Let us look at the two categories of surveillance.


There are two general categories of surveillance relating to intensity or sensitivity:

• Discreet Surveillance

The subject is unaware that he is under observation. This is the usual meaning of the term surveillance. The adjective discreet is used merely to distinguish it from what may be termed a close, restraint, or control surveillance. The essence of discreet surveillance is that the subject is unaware of being watched. Generally, the guiding rule is to discontinue surveillance rather than risk actions which make the subject aware of the observation.

• Close Surveillance

A close surveillance is one in which maintaining constant observation of the subject is the paramount objective, even though the subject may become aware of the surveillance. Surveillance to provide protection is frequently of this nature. This type of surveillance can also be used as a preventive measure to deter individuals from committing illegal acts or from fleeing, once they become aware of an investigation or operation.

Private investigators involved in personal protection details are in fact conducting “close surveillance” of their principal. So now that we have decided which category of surveillance we want to employ, how are we going to go about this? We will now look at the five methods of surveillance available to us.


The following are the types of surveillance methods that are used most often:

• Fixed Point: A fixed surveillance point is one in which the surveillance remains in a relatively fixed position to observe the activities at a specific location. These fixed points are usually predetermined locations selected after extensive analysis of the subject and his or her activities.

• Moving: In a moving surveillance, the investigator follows the subject from place to place to maintain continuous watch over his or her activities. The movement may be on foot or by vehicle and include land, water, air, or any combination of these.

• Technical: This type of surveillance is accomplished by the use of technical visual devices, electronic listening devices, vehicle trackers, and signaling devices.

• Photographic: Often considered part of technical surveillance, the term technical implies that the agent must be a technician or electronics expert to accomplish the task. However, all investigators must be able to accomplish photographic surveillance coverage, which is why we treat this as a separate method.

• Combination or Mixed: A combination of technical, fixed, moving, and photographic surveillance is usually the most expensive in terms of money and investigative effort but will often achieve the best results. In almost all surveillance operations, we employ a combination of the different types of surveillance methods.

From what I have said so far, it is easy to see that surveillance might be confused with an undercover operation, but there are some definite differences between the two.


Surveillance is employed by investigators as an aid in achieving investigative objectives that vary with the requirements of the case and the particular circumstances prevailing in a given place at a given time. Some of the most common objectives of surveillance are as follows:

• Obtain information or develop leads

• Obtain evidence of a crime that has been committed or to observe a crime actually being committed.

• Check the reliability of informants or their information.

• Check the loyalty of employees.

• Monitor the movements and activities of subjects.

• Determine if a subject is frequenting a certain establishment or location.

• Establish a subject’s habits, such as his or her hangouts, associates, or place of employment.

• Confirm a subject’s whereabouts.

These are not the only considerations we should take into account before we initiate surveillance, however. There are other factors we should consider.


Knowledge of the case and the subject is necessary prior to initiation  of the surveillance. In many cases, fragmentary information concerning activities, habits, and routine of a subject will be available through in formation, documentary evidence, records reviews, and similar means. The necessity for surveillance is frequently determined on the basis of a picture created by this fragmentary information. Careful study of the information by the investigators will enable them to visualize activities, determine the type of surveillance, consider the proper methods to use, minimize the chances of error, and save time that might otherwise be devoted to useless action. Surveillance is often the most costly, boring, monotonous, and unrewarding investigative technique in which you will ever be involved. Careful consideration must be given before surveillance is initiated. Continuous surveillance is difficult at best. To accomplish surveillance, the recommended approach is to carefully case the area, study and analyze the subject, exploit all developed information, and then plan and execute the surveillance. Prior to conducting a surveillance, and indeed critical to the decision of whether one will be conducted at all, is the area of legal and policy considerations. Just as there are rules, regulations, laws, and policies that direct our actions in all other phases of investigations, they exist to guide us in the conduct of surveillances.


Physical surveillances may usually be conducted where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy. Surveillances conducted where a reasonable expectation of privacy exists, such as a technical surveillance, may be a violation of law. Therefore, surveillance must be conducted in the least intrusive manner possible. When surveillance is deemed necessary, it will be conducted within the scope of the laws, regulations, and guidelines set forth to direct it. Prior to conducting surveillance, it is imperative you understand what you legally can and cannot do during the course of the surveillance.


If you knew there was something you could do that would make the rest of the work you do easier and would greatly increase your chances for success, you would probably do it. Well, what we are going to be talking about during this block of training is exactly that: something that can definitely make your surveillance operation easier and will help you achieve success. In preparation for conducting a physical surveillance, the first step is to carefully case the area and study the subject. Without this careful planning it is doubtful a successful investigation and surveillance could be conducted. Casing the area in which the subject resides, works, or participates in leisure activities provides the investigator with valuable information on the subject’s environment, leading to a better understanding of character, personality, and motivation. Knowledge of the area in which the subject resides provides information on the mode of living, and may help provide the necessary background information for planning the development of the investigation and surveillance if necessary. In the next blog post, we will examine the following areas:

1. area casing

2. other area factors

3. maps and map reading

4. subject study

5. informant recruiting in surveillance

Author Bio

Amit Sen, a commercial pilot by training, has over 15 years experience in the space of corporate investigations, handling Copyright & Trademark infringement cases, Pre – employment verification Industrial Espionage investigations, Asset & Net – Worth assessment assignments and vendor / supplier verification cases, among others. Co-founder of Alliance One – which is the best private investigation agency in India. Amit has also successfully completed assignments in a wide range of sectors, including the machine tools industry, pharmaceutical industry, hospitality sector, specialized equipment (Oil & natural gas sector, aviation industry etc.), telecom industry & the IT & ITes sectors. These cases have all involved both offline and online investigations

Article edited and co-written by Atin Dasgupta who is the co-founder and marketing head of Alliance One. Read more about Atin here.

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