What does a Surveillance Investigator do?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2019
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A surveillance investigator uses observation techniques to conduct a variety of investigations. This person typically works to observe the subject of an investigation while remaining undetectable himself. A surveillance investigator may also perform research pertinent to a case and draft reports in an effort to get to the heart of an investigation and document its progress. Sometimes, a surveillance investigator also testifies about his findings in a court of law.

Often, a surveillance investigator puts his observation skills to work in investigating a subject. He may also use various types of surveillance equipment to accomplish this task. For example, a suspicious spouse may hire a surveillance investigator to follow his spouse if he suspects she is cheating. The investigator may observe her comings and goings and take note of the company she keeps. If he observes suspicious activity, he may document it with photographs or video recording evidence and then report his findings back to the person who hired him.


A surveillance investigator may also investigate cases for businesses, including those involving insurance fraud. For example, he may be called on to observe a person who is seeking compensation for an injury sustained at his place of employment. In this capacity, he may try to obtain evidence that the subject is not injured in the manner that he reported. For example, if he is able to photograph or video tape his subject moving furniture into his home when that subject is supposed to be incapable of physical activity, this can have a dramatic effect on a workers' compensation claim.

Often, surveillance investigators are depicted in exciting scenes on television and in movies that involve high-speed chases and heroic confrontations. This job is usually quite the opposite of that, however. A surveillance investigator usually uses stakeout techniques to observe his subjects. An individual with this job usually tries to avoid confrontations, as they can be dangerous and put the entire investigation in jeopardy. Additionally, an individual in this field works to stay hidden and obey the law, so high-speed chases aren't a typical part of this job.

An individual with this job also typically reports the information he finds. Often, this means creating written documentation of his efforts as well as providing photographs, videos, or other evidence. A surveillance investigator may also be called on to testify about his findings in a court case or to submit his documentation for use as evidence.


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