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SA's national litigation, corporate & government private intelligence, private/forensic investigation/auditing, loss & risk management specialists.
Surveillance, by definition, is always covert (unless a particular investigative strategy requires that the party being surveyed must be made aware of the surveillance).
The capacity to conduct surveillance must always be part of the resource capacity of a forensic investigation service provider as there will always be times when it is not possible to gather required information/evidence by any other means.
Unlike what is portrayed by Hollywood, surveillance does not just involve driving behind someone to observe what he/she does and/or where he/she goes. To maintain any period of covert surveillance is an skill that requires careful planning, the assessment of resource requirements, and the deployment same in a manner that blends into the surveillance environment. When, for example, surveying someone by vehicle for the first time, if the surveillance operative wants to be absolutely certain to not lose sight of the target, the operative would need to act as follows:
At the commencement of such a surveillance period, the surveillance operative has two options. He could use the first surveillance period to merely monitor in which direction the subject vehicle turns out the initial premises, so that in a subsequent surveillance period he can anticipate the movements of the subject vehicle and place himself in a position to successfully follow the subject vehicle. But then, the subject vehicle may turn out of the initial premises in the other direction in the second period of surveillance. Alternatively, the surveillance operative could deploy sufficient person/vehicle or two person/vehicle resources to cover all possible routes that the subject vehicle could take from the initial premises. However, cost dictates what a resources a client can afford, and the fee a client can afford dictates the surveillance resources that can be dedicated to a surveillance exercise.
Covert surveillance is also an intensive process. It is often the case that surveillance involves surveying a fixed location to observe movement or a transaction that lasts only a second or two. It requires considerable discipline (which only comes with practice and experience) for a surveillance operative to maintain concentration for protracted periods just to observe something that may manifest for only a second or two at any time during any given surveillance period. Not only must the surveillance operative be appropriately alert and attentive to not miss the movement/transaction that is the subject of the surveillance exercise, he must also be ready to operate whatever recording equipment he is required to use to capture the targeted movement/transaction. Jardine, our CEO, tells of numerous extraordinary surveillance experiences. He once maintained an unbroken period of 72 hours covert surveillance living in a filthy rubbish skip - as this was the only structure that provided a covert surveillance point in that particular surveillance environment. Eating and attending to one’s bodily needs in the same tiny, filthy environment makes for an extremely interesting experience! In the first place, he had to leopard crawl into the rubbish skip in the dead of night to gain covert access to it. He had to avoid taking in fluids and sustenance to avoid 'calls of nature', but at the same time had to remain sufficiently hydrated and nourished to maintain concentration over what turned out to be a 72 hour period that could have been longer or shorter from what was known at the time he commenced the exercise. Another time he had to park a caravan in the street, slit one of its tyres to provide an excuse for leaving it there, and then live inside it all locked up with all windows closed and blinds drawn to make it appear to be deserted. This exercise was conducted in summer ...
Protracted periods of covert surveillance is not fun, is extremely uncomfortable, and exhausting.
Surveillance is either physical, electronic, or a combination of the two. FSG supplies and installs a range of covert electronic surveillance equipment, including telephone conversation and room audio recording devices, covert CCTV cameras and covert vehicle and asset tracking devices. However, FSG must always take cognizance of the legal aspects of using such devices. In the absence of an appropriate court order, the results of unauthorized electronic surveillance does not yield evidence that complies with court regulations for the admissibility of evidence. However, if such devices are not used, the investigator may never learn when or where to look for information/intelligence that will yield evidence that is admissible. .
Because FSG supplies and installs such electronic, covert surveillance devices, we also know how and where to look when a person suspects that he/she is under electronic surveillance. Technology, however, is so advanced that covert audio and video recording devices can be built into just about any common item that can be found in any environment, and a micro SD card (which is less than 5mm x 5mm in size) can hold several hours of video and audio recordings. Properly disguised, such items are simply carried in and out of targeted environments. It is a nasty business, and the investment in expensive equipment that effectively jams such devices is about the only solution available.
A successful period of covert surveillance is a factor of several things:
It is important that client realizes that surveillance is seldom a once-off task. It is unlikely that the surveillance operative will observe whatever it is that motivates the surveillance on the first day or first occurrence of the surveillance exercise. It is more the case that, as time progresses, the surveillance operative learns the habitual movements of all parties in the surveillance environment so that the operative can anticipate movement and activity as much as possible to ensure that he is in the right place at the right time to record whatever it is that is the objective of the surveillance exercise.
Professional forensic investigators have good reason to raise considerable fees for surveillance exercises. It is hard work that takes considerable experience and skill to perform successfully, and the resources required in terms of persons, vehicles, communication equipment and other covert surveillance equipment come at a considerable cost.
Fohla Security CC
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