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How Military Surveillance Techniques and Civilian Surveillance Correlate

August 10th, 2018

I suppose I should begin by introducing myself; for the purposes of this blog, I’ll just go by JJH. I’m a currently serving, nine-year, Army combat vet. For the entirety of those nine years, I have been a Forward Observer. A Forward Observer is one of the harder jobs in the military to explain. Suffice to say, we’re essentially a combat surveillance team that carries enough radio equipment to talk to anyone (everyone) on the planet. The reason we burden ourselves with hundred-pound radio packs, is a consequence of our two primary purposes, which are to 1: provide real-time battlefield intelligence to the commander of the ground forces and 2: our primary (primary) task is to provide targeting coordinates and specific instructions to… basically anything from a mortar system to thermo-nuclear warheads… and blow things up. All this to qualify that while I’m certainly not the best at what I do, surveillance, of any form, isn’t new to me.

What I’d like to share today will probably wind up being a three-ish part… blog? About the decision-making process that I’ve developed/been trained in over the years. It is by no means the end all to a personal decision-making process, but it has served me in the reconnaissance/surveillance/observation field well for the better part of a decade.

So, I guess let’s get this party started with some acronyms.

The purpose of remembering acronyms, is to re-enforce a mental checklist of stuff you need to do whenever you attempt to accomplish a task. By no means does everyone remember every acronym, but I’ve found that the people who are really good at their job have a few acronyms that they use as touch-stones. The two acronyms I’m going to focus on are (in my opinion) the two best acronyms for surveillance-based operations that the military has to offer. They are both pretty similar, but unique in their application. The first (SLCTOP) is used for combat-based procurement of an observation post. The second (OCOKA) is primarily used for defensive based operations i.e. you take an area and then figure out the best way to hold it. If you ask anyone who’s ever ran recon, they’ll know, or hopefully heard of, these two acronyms.

SLCTOP (Pronounced “Slock-Top”)

Stands for: Security – Location – Communications – Targets – Observation – Position Improvement.

 

So, you can probably already start to connect the dots why this acronym crosses the military/civilian surveillance barrier so well.

“Security” is kind of a stretch, I agree, but as far as a checklist goes, it’s probably not a bad way to go in any circumstance. In the military, the first thing you do in any and every situation, is obtain 360degree security of your location. Anyone who’s ever worked a case in Detroit can probably appreciate the applicability of the first letter here. The takeaway is that if you’re not secure in your observation post, you can’t effectively complete your assigned task.

“Location” has to do with the place you’re in for the job you’re doing e.g If you’re trying to observe a large area, the higher the ground, the better. If you’re trying to observe a singular point, then the opposite policy can apply. “Location” is extremely broad here and I could write a dissertation on the methodology of determining the best observation locations. Suffice to say, location is the first thing you should be thinking about in every context that is applicable to the surveillance you’re conducting.

“Communications” is also primarily a military aspect of this acronym, but it can be very important in this case too. If you’ve ever worked an IME or a Deposition and had absolutely no idea when, or if, the subject was going to arrive, then the importance of communications comes into focus a little better. For instance, if you park in a parking garage with no cell signal, it can really put a damper on your effectiveness as an investigator.

“Targets” has to do primarily with the disposition of the… well, target. We obviously don’t like to use the word “target” in civilian surveillance, but the point remains. Disposition of your subject is a crucial aspect of any case, military or civilian. Are they mobile? Do they have vehicles present? Are they aware of their potential observation? Are they violent, do they have family, are they physically ambulatory? All these questions (and more) can and should shape the way you operate.

“Observation” is self-explanatory and can be rolled into location most of the time, but again: the reason we utilize these acronyms is to remember the priorities of work (what you need to do to setup) and actions upon an objective (your purpose for being there) when conducting surveillance.

”Position Improvement” is at the end of this acronym for a reason. When you get everything else done, you figure out ways to improve your security, location, communications, or observation. If your communications are trash, once you situate yourself to the location, improve it. If your observation presents a problem with possible egress routes, then improve it. The tricky part about this is that “improvement” is usually synonymous with “moving” and moving is always the last thing you want to do.

I’m going to save OCOKA (Pronounced “Oh-Coke-Uh”) for the next blog entry because I’m at a thousand-ish words already and OCOKA is an extremely useful (maybe more-so than SLCTOP) acronym for surveillance-based ops. It will also segue nicely into the over-arching decision making process that I’ve grown over the last decade to use daily, if not hourly: The OODA Loop.

 

Thanks – JJH

Do you have what it takes to be a Surveillance Investigator?

June 12th, 2018

One of the most amazing things about surveillance investigators, is the diverse background that they all seem to come from. Most found their way through an interest in the criminal justice system, but the eventual routes they take are as varied as the people themselves. In the years I have been working this industry, I have observed people come and go, fail, succeed, and flourish in Surveillance. One of the most amazing things though, is that there is truly no way to know how someone will do as a surveillance investigator before putting them out in the field.

Sure, there are some jobs out there that can give you an idea on how they will deal with things. Former military people seem to be especially suited to the “hurry up and wait” mentality that is abundant in both positions. Some jobs even give you the experience of watching over a specific location, watching a specific person, and taking notes on all their daily activities. Former police officers may have plenty of experience in conducting stakeouts and writing up long reports documenting all interactions they had throughout their day.

What does it take to be a Surveillance InvestigatorThat being said, I have seen people with absolutely no experience in anything related to this field, walk in and become a superstar. I have seen resumes from people that look like they should immediately be among the best of the best, and not get through training, and people you would never expect – college graduates, tire shops managers, oil-rig workers, crime scene cleanup specialists – come in and be among the best you will find. Certain fields will provide a good “backbone” for this line of work and the different aspects involved.

Regardless of previous work experiences, education, or background, the one thing that ties all good surveillance investigators is attention to detail, and an interest in providing the customer the absolute best product possible. At the end of the day, our business is really in the customer service industry. People come to us with questions, and it is our responsibility to answer them. Investigators who accept and adopt that mentality, have endless opportunities in front of them. Sound like you?

 

Client Coordination Helps Casualty Surveillance Results!

April 17th, 2018

 

Contributed by: Christian Van Becelaere

It’s amazing just how much a little coordination between Investigator and Client can benefit a casualty surveillance case, especially when the going gets tough.  Having a client invested in the results of their case and offering additional information to help the investigative process always results in better outcomes.  This goes for the all important early morning update as well, when our clients have the opportunity to aid in the action planning process.  Normally, this entails letting our client clients know what happened the day prior and details our next steps.  This opens up the opportunity for our clients to have some input on how we schedule future days or if they want to add additional time to a file.  This process ensures that our clients know exactly where a case stands so there are no surprises later on.  Having said this, I wanted to share a quick story about a recent surveillance where communication between our investigators and our client paid off huge.

Client Coordination Helps Casualty Surveillance Results!Just recently, we had a request for casualty surveillance on a target during and after a settlement conference where the target was to be present.  Over the course of the last couple of years we have done multiple rounds of surveillance on this individual. We have observed them driving vehicles they claimed no longer to own, living at places they claimed not to.  Suffice to say, we already had a good amount of video that our client could use.  On this particular day, we observed the individual driving and running errands throughout the morning, but in heavy Downtown Detroit traffic we ended up losing visual contact with with their vehicle.

As always, we conducted a canvass of locations we believed they might be going to, but we were never successful in placing them prior to this meeting. We arrived at the location, and after a scan of the parking lot were able to determine than none of the known vehicles to the subject or known family members were present. Through direct contact with our client and their office, we were given notice that the subject stated they were driven to the meeting by their significant other, who had picked them up from their primary residence, as they were unable to drive themselves. After being provided the name of the significant other, we located that person’s address.

Our investigator then looked back through their footage from earlier in the day, identifying a vehicle that was associated with the address that we were unaware of before. A canvass of the meeting spot then identified that vehicle, as well as the driver. Had the communication between our staff and our client not been possible, I cannot guarantee we would have located the subject following the meeting. Nor would we necessarily have obtained the footage of them following the meeting, and returning back to the address that she most definitely does not live at.  It is amazing what a small piece of information can do to aid in a case, so it is not surprising that we sometimes have to look to our clients for a little assist once and a while.

Casualty surveillance, especially with tough circumstances often requires coordination between us as the investigators and our clients.  The results of this coordination are always more positive and our team is great at going the extra distance to make it happen.

A Surveillance Investigator Tale

March 12th, 2018

Contributed by: Brian Coykendall

As surveillance investigators, we routinely get asked many questions regarding the nature of our job: the thrills of following someone that is clearly unsuspecting, the heightened excitement of being in close proximity during covert surveillance and, of course, completing the objective and catching someone doing something that they probably should not be doing. These topics usually open up an array of “war” stories from any good surveillance investigator.  Most dialogue usually even carries a profound interest and passion, making the conversation even that much more appealing, on both ends.

These conversations usually follow the outline of any real short story:  an introduction, plot establishment, climax, plateau, then the descent to some abrupt ending and/or brief summary.  It usually begins to taper down toward the ending once it’s learned that what we actually do is NOT all James Bond and other Hollywood embellished figures of our profession.  There are no jetpacks that slingshot us into heightened surveillance positions (no, we really do have to run flights of stairs if that’s our plan of action…).  There is no single-person drone hovering above with an investigator at the helm making 360-degree observations undetected (cool though, right?!).  And one of my personal favorites, we are not equipped with every camera lens and filter in existence at any given time so that we may go from normal video observations straight into night vision and then infrared imaging (in the event that our subject may actually be Rambo or Jason Bourne…).

Once all of this is established, and understood with some degree of disappointment, we then get the infamous “How exciting of a job, I could so do that!!”  Is it?  Really?  And, could you???

What’s never exposed as part of what we do as surveillance investigators is the actual day-to-day experiences.  Sure, I can highlight my career with some of my “best bust” surveillance cases and make it sound exciting and appealing; however, what I don’t typically share is the other 90-percent…

Surveillance InvestigatorAs a surveillance investigator, you need to remain flexible (no, I’m not suggesting that you begin everyday with hot yoga…).  Your work schedule follows no schedule like most of you have ever experienced.  Because surveillance follows the schedule of another individual, scheduling the right time to conduct said task is planned by hours, sometimes days, of research and pre-surveillance work-up!  So, any given Friday can quickly turn your Saturday matinee Tigers game and/or your Sunday brunch with loved ones into another day of work!  Those evenings where your favorite dinner had been prepared, just for you by your significant other, and it’s been ruined with a phone call disclosing how your surveillance case has been extended due to unforeseen circumstances (ask my wife…), do become somewhat routine and expected.  And, of course, come prime time for any surveillance during the warm and pleasant months of the year, begin to prepare yourself for what feels like an 8-day work week!

So far, so good??

Battling the elements of surveillance can be tough, for anyone!  One of my best cases ever involved a subject with a brand-new auto and bodily injury claim, followed by over three hours of video as he participated in a Saturday afternoon softball tournament.  How fun, right?!  Yes, well, most of that was spent in the back seat of a black SUV, in the middle of July, under a cloudless sky with the front windows cracked roughly two inches, just to gain some breath of fresh air and the hope that maybe the slightest breeze would help combat heat exhaustion.  I think I lost nearly four pounds of water weight that afternoon (which is pretty impressive since I think I drank over a gallon of water without the slightest urge to pee…).  Summer surveillance can be very brutal!  Almost as brutal as last February where most surveillance investigators spent hours in their respective vehicles, parked on some residential side street.  If anyone remembers those temperatures last year, they weren’t pleasant, by any standards!  Some days touched down under the 20-below mark!!  And somewhere, some surveillance investigator was sitting, bundled up as much as possible with his or her hands and arms exposed and at the ready to lift their video camera and shoot a real-life movie.  The temperature inside the vehicle not much warmer and the engine not at idle, as to not cause any suspicion from the subject or surrounding neighbors.  Each breath visible and the coffee purchased just a half hour ago already had a slight chill to it.  Anyone ever try to keep a video camera still at 20-below zero?!

Are we still the envy of the work force??

I could literally go on and on over all the little quirks and qualms that would make many of you rethink your passion for becoming a surveillance investigator.  We could discuss, in great detail, the bathroom situation, perhaps the frustrations of maintaining a good mobile surveillance in the middle of rush hour traffic.  There is always the element of battling boredom.  The hours of sitting still, idle, staring into that little window of tunnel vision that your mind has created for you.  All the while you make every attempt not to let your mind wander into the realm of difficulties and challenges that your life may have set in place, away from work:  worrying about your children, your love life, wondering how your review may go, did you respond to that email, or simply just begin to become scatter-brained in general!  We have data research experts and managers that claim that they couldn’t do my job, nor do they want it.  That’s fair, as I feel the same about their position!

I’m sure that we all have extended lists of the pros and cons of our current job, profession and industry.  I’m also willing to bet that most of us may just find that where we are or where we really want to go is probably just as exciting (in the overall big picture) than that of us lonely surveillance investigators or joining a team of camera monkeys!  Despite all of this, I still (after many years) really enjoy what I do and the people I work with.  The excitement and the opportunity to make a difference, help a client or solve a puzzle still overshadows some of the downsides.

Research Investigation Challenges Create Interesting Week for Team

February 12th, 2018

Contributed by The Sherlock Research Team

Research Investigation Challenges Create Interesting Week for Team

 

As research investigators, our job description probably isn’t transparent to most.  We essentially handle everything and anything that doesn’t fit the mold of a surveillance investigation.  We work from behind a computer screen with a telephone, research manuals and Red Bull.  We don’t get out much!  Basically, we dig for information through a variety of sources; HUMINT, OSINT, SIGINT are some of the areas we specialize in, which essentially means that if a piece of information is available, we can find it.  A lot of our clients use our expertise to help track people down, find that shred of evidence that can help their case, discredit a party to a lawsuit or claim and even to prepare themselves for depositions and trials.  Not to mention that we work to setup our surveillance team so that they can select the right times/days to be in the field.  Every case is different, and every case is interesting, but once and a while there is a case that stands out as truly unique in scope.  This week, a simple request came in, that despite being unassuming and straightforward, created a real challenge.

 

The request was this: “Find a recent signature made by an insurance claimant so that our client can compare it to his alleged signature on a medical Assignment and Release form.”

 

Simple right?  People sign things all the time?  That is what came to mind when we set about handling this case.  The only trouble was finding something that is public record and available (and recent) to obtain.  The first thought on this one was to locate a copy of the claimant’s deed.  Immediately we were shut down in our efforts; finding that the claimant doesn’t own his residence.  A landlord and any rental documents are not public and although it might be worth a try to tactfully contact the landlord, we also learned that the claimant wasn’t likely to be listed on the lease anyway.  At this point, we were really scratching our heads.  Driver’s license signatures are not available publicly, even with access to the Secretary of State, we can only see the data; no photos, no signatures.  Our next thought was to walk through the subject’s background to see if we could find anything that stood out as requiring a signature, like a business registration document or court filing on another case.  Honestly, we were even hoping he would have been nice enough to have posted a sample signature on social media…   Hey, you never know what you will find on Facebook!
Through our searches, we discovered that a couple of years back, the subject spent some time in county lock up.  This was the break we needed, knowing that a ton of signatures are required to enter and leave the judicial system, the most recent of which is usually the subject’s signature on the property release form that all inmates are required to sign when leaving jail.  After contact with the local Sheriff’s Office, we were in business.  An 18 month old signature to compare to the release form presented by a treating physician that our client found suspicious.

 

While not the most exciting case in history, it is matters like this that can be the most interesting to a research investigator here at Sherlock Investigations.  If you ever find yourself in need of a tough or oddball piece of information, we encourage you to give our team a call to see what we can come up with for your unique situation.  We look forward to the challenge!

 

Winter Surveillance Optimized

February 2nd, 2018

Contributed by: Brian Coykendall

Weather plays a big role when determining a well-constructed plan of action for any surveillance on any claimant.  Immediately, most of us look ahead to the upcoming weather forecast and determine that rain, snow and high winds are probably not a great time to conduct surveillance.  The initial thought of these less-than-desirable conditions is that very little-to-no activity will present itself.  In most cases, that poses a very strong argument, especially regarding any outside activity at the claimant’s home.

However…

What we can’t immediately dismiss, and need to always keep in mind, is that most routines are minimally affected by most weather conditions.  We still commute to work, schools, scheduled appointments, etc.  Grocery shopping still needs to get accomplished as well as the rest of our daily needs, whichever those may be that are tailored to each separate individual.

Another highlight of this just took place a couple of weeks ago.  And, against the surveillance investigator’s judgement to pack it up and save it for a better day, the end result added a heavy dose of value to the client’s defense against the claimant’s alleged injuries and restrictions that she disclosed as part of her injury claim.  Surveillance began, on this initial day of the file, just prior to dawn.  It was raining and had only gotten worse as the morning progressed.  With the client’s budget and the M.O. to produce at the forefront of the investigator’s mind, he called the office to share his thoughts.  After a brief conversation, it was determined that a half day would be acceptable, and fair, to the client.  Shortly after that conversation, amidst a near downpour of heavy rain, the claimant’s garage door opened and she departed the area alone.  She was followed to a couple different locations before resting at a local library.  The investigator did his due diligence, following the claimant inside and observing her as she appeared to study a number of old newspapers.  Pretty boring stuff, right?

Wrong!!

Even though this surveillance didn’t prove to be anything too exciting; let’s say, for example, like going to the North American International Auto Show and browsing next year’s releases, or following the claimant into Gold’s Gym and obtaining an hour of video as she tossed around more weight than she weighs herself.  No.  But, the client found the information and video evidence to be about as exciting as the aforementioned.  The claimant’s disclosed restrictions included some driving and the fact that she could no longer read due to the headaches received from her recent auto injury.  The backpack that she swung over her shoulder just added that little something extra to the alleged back injury also.

Conclusion:

Although cases like this one do present themselves, I’m not suggesting that for any given poor weather report or the fact that it’s raining cats and dogs that we schedule maximum surveillance efforts and rush right out to make this happen.  We merely need to remember that with the proper pre-surveillance data collection, any case has the capability of presenting valuable information to our clients at any given time.

Michigan Winters Prove Excellent for Surveillance

January 31st, 2018

Michigan Winters aren’t conducive for surveillance?  Think again!  Winter surveillance is already proving to be a success, thanks to good planning and profiling of surveillance targets.

Even in good weather, the majority of surveillance activity focuses on a claimant’s daily routine and normal, everyday activities, often times away from their homes.  These are activities that are often identified through comprehensive profiling of a target.  A typical profile includes identifying who lives in the target’s household, how that household operates, are there children, who works, what social media is available, what can we ascertain about the subject and when is he or she is most likely to be active outside of their residence?  These routines don’t just stop because it is cold outside.  Think about your day for a moment.  You still have obligations to tend to, groceries to shop for, children to take to and from school, family to visit, and appointments to make.  The only difference in the winter months is the added exertion needed to tend to these activities.  Instead of walking to your car, starting it and driving off, you have to clear snow from your roof and scrape your windshield free of ice before going anywhere.  You probably even have to shovel your driveway and clear snow off your patio and walkways.  The point is, “the daily routine” still exists in the winter months, but more physically intensive steps sometimes have to be taken, which creates excellent opportunities for surveillance, especially when planned accordingly.

Michigan Winters Prove Excellent for Surveillance

A Thanksgiving Weekend Surveillance Tale

November 29th, 2017

Contributed by: Brian Coykendall

The holiday season is upon us and as most prepare for shopping, eating, decorating and spending time with family, a small group of investigators who conduct covert surveillance for a living are preparing for what it takes to document these very same activities being done by our targets.  The holiday season is unquestionably one of the busiest surveillance times of the year and having just experienced the Thanksgiving weekend and the challenges of conducting surveillance during this time of year, I thought it would be a great chance to share a short story (short for me that is) of how our team functions to ensure that our surveillance operations are successful for our clients.

First off, we have to discuss the hours.  Most of the year, we are able to maneuver cases to fit into the pre-determined time slots that best match the intelligence we have on a specific target.  This is intelligence based surveillance and our office team does an awesome job at collecting a ton of information on everyone we follow in the field long before we get on site (Thank you Christian and @Adam Groth).  During the holidays however; all bets are off, specifically in the sense that no one is following their known patterns.  School is out, people are not at work and although we may catch the “Going to Grandma’s House for Dinner” Facebook post, most schedules are out the window.  When our clients request surveillance this time of year, there is often a fairly specific objective; “let’s see if they go black Friday shopping” or “the claim is they can’t drive, but their family is all out of town, let’s see what happens”.  As a result, the surveillance days themselves are usually scheduled in larger blocks of time and/or consecutive days, meaning that we must be even more precise on our intel to ensure we are sitting at the correct home and watching for the right people.  Our office team is in overdrive trying to sort through the data on these requests right up until the last hours of the day prior to a holiday.

None of our clients want eight hours of us sitting on a house that we are not sure is occupied or that the target may have moved from.

Despite the work prior to surveillance, in some circumstances, information from the field is necessary to confirm data needed to continue a surveillance assignment.  As a result, each case has a backup plan with possible additional addresses, relative’s homes, other vehicles to look out for and information as to who is on-call in case we appear to be off target.  This scenario played out perfectly this past weekend and we saved a case from potentially poor results.

I was working a multiple consecutive day file up north with a lot of time and our client’s money committed to just this one weekend.  That’s a lot of pressure first off, but secondly, our target was immediately identified by our office as someone who moves around a lot.  This along with being recently divorced and not owning a home of his own created a “problem file” scenario.  We all know that case; the target’s driver’s license is registered at address A, his vehicle is registered at address B and his “data hits” show him at address C, all while being young enough to still be living at mom and dad’s which is address D.  I arrived at the client provided address to find no vehicles and no signs of life.  Knowing that a couple of the other addresses were nearby, I conducted some spot checks to see if I could locate our guy’s vehicle.  No luck.  Four addresses, no vehicles belonging to our target or his family at any of them, no signs of life and out of options.  I got a hold of the on-call research investigator for the weekend and she was able to do some digging based on the vehicles I did see at a couple of the other addresses, immediately ruling one out based on what we saw there (it appeared that an unrelated older couple recently moved in based on the vehicle).  Down to three addresses….  One of which also had a vehicle parked at it, registered to female who was the same age as are target.  A few minutes of social media searches later and the on-call research investigator was able to tell me that our target’s known family members and this woman (the homeowner of address #3) are connected on social media.  Based on the assumption that they are likely dating, we continued back to that address where her vehicle was parked.  Within minutes, our target arrived at the home.  Even better, he was carrying in groceries and walked straight into the home without knocking, giving us a pretty good indication that he is living at this location.  Now if he would only go ahead and register his driver’s licenses and vehicle there, that would be great!

That’s a long route to getting it right and although the report will simply reflect that we conducted some spot checks and ended up with video of the target at a new address, it was well worth the effort to avoid doing it wrong for three days straight with nothing of value for our client.  Hopefully this little insight into how we operate here at Sherlock Investigations was fun!  I plan to share more stories with everyone soon (after the holidays of course)!  Thank you for reading.  Any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly at BC1@claimspi.com or online at Brian Coykendall LinkedIn.

Casualty Surveillance During Scheduled Appointments

February 3rd, 2017

Casualty Surveillance During Scheduled Appointments

In the most recent edition of the Michigan Chapter of IASIU’s newsletter, our Investigations Manager, Dan Klimek, authored a discussion piece focused on the pros and cons of conducting surveillance during scheduled appointments.  Concluding that these days are often productive and sometimes exceptional opportunities to not only confirm a target’s identity and residence, but also verify actions, limitations and activities before during and after such appointments.  There are of course limitations that can apply; solutions which are also discussed,  including utilizing varying field strategies to accomplish the goals of obtaining footage and remaining discreet, while keeping budgetary concerns in mind.  The full newsletter containing this discussion can be found here:

MI IASIU January, 2017 Newsletter

Sherlock Investigations is recognized as the leader in providing superior casualty surveillance investigations for the insurance defense community in Michigan. Each case entails a sophisticated plan of action, based on known, verified facts, newly developed intelligence and precise asset selection to give our clients consistently better results than other investigative providers.

Daniel Klimek, MS – Intelligence Analysis, is the Investigations Manager at Sherlock Investigations. Dan has planned and overseen thousands of surveillance operations and works directly with both the investigators and clients to design investigations for optimal outcomes.

 

Warm Winter Weather Sometimes Complicates Michigan Surveillance with Fog

January 26th, 2017

The good news for Sherlock clients conducting Michigan surveillance this winter has been the unusually warm weather. A periodic complication to this unique surveillance opportunity has been some instances of dense fog. insurance surveillance in fog

Fog impacts surveillance in multiple ways and it also has an impact on how claimants, like everyone else, behave. The most obvious problem with fog is that, when present and thick enough, it prevents the investigator from capturing video of the claimants activities, even at relatively close range. Surveillance rarely turns out well when we can’t see the subject. That one is obvious. Another problem is pursuit. When a claimant leaves their residence, fog makes pursuit very difficult for the surveillance investigator. Our team will literally have to be right on top of the claimant and even then, with others driving cautiously, maintaining sight can be challenging, increases the risk of detection and raises safety concerns for all involved. (Remember, the last thing anyone wants is a potential accident involving the subject/claimant or the investigator)

Using the glass half full perspective, a lighter fog can help the investigator maintain her/his cover longer, keeps the subject focus on their driving and not someone following them and often clears out as quickly as it rolls in. One more important twist is the fact that fog can be dense in one neighborhood and almost non-existent in the next. Where this makes us crazy is in determining if we should initiate surveillance or call off the day. At Sherlock, the last thing we want to do is put anyone at risk or waste a clients money. (If you are thinking that no PI will do surveillance in the fog, think again. We have seen many competitor’s reports with days of “no activity” but the weather was foggy for hours) This takes some extra steps to verify if the fog at the target location is as bad as it is at the office or the investigators surveillance departure point. The pre-surveillance workup (plan of action) also helps us to determine if we should go. For example, someone whom our research indicates is believed to be working a weekend side job might need to be covered to take advantage of that opportunity despite the weather.

These are just some points to consider when that warm winter weather sometimes complicates Michigan surveillance.