11 Useful, But Humorous Surveillance Tips

  1. Visit the surveillance location before the assignment begins.  And, oh my lord, do not bring attention to yourself with a booming stereo, screaming kids, or an empty tank of gas.  For the love, just conduct a simple drive-by to see what you’re up against.
  2. Charge your electronic devices and bring extra batteries.  If you get set up with your route 44 vanilla cream root beer (extra cream, easy on the ice), swiss roll cakes, and Tums, only to discover your camera’s battery is dead, let’s hope you brought your sketch pad, charcoal, and some semblance of a memory from tenth grade art class.
  3. Do not anticipate playing games on your phone, texting, reading a book, sneezing, blinking, or anything that requires you to look away for 1/2 of a second.  Because, if you do, all of the most valuable activity will happen when you decide to reach down and scratch that mosquito bite on your ankle.
  4. Don’t bring a curious friend who thinks it would be “so cool” to come along for the ride.  They will numb your brain with their incessant chatter and cause your eyes to coat over with a dull glaze.  A silent and boring car is better than bleeding ears.
  5. Use the bathroom right before you jump in the car.  Don’t be against wearing diapers or peeing in a cup inside your car. Just don’t get caught.  These are the things of nightmares.
  6. Leave your hot pink, glittery shirt at home.  Unless you’re surveilling inside Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory or a four-year-old girl’s birthday party.
  7. Know the physical description of who you are surveilling.  A recent photo or video is best.  Nothing is more embarrassing than getting top-notch footage of Neighbor Bob getting the newspaper in his underwear, walking his dog, flirting with the neighbor across the street, and fiddling under the hood of his car when, meanwhile, your actual subject is parading in front of you completely undetected.
  8. Have an airtight plan if you are approached by a nosy neighbor.  If you don’t have a plan and just blankly stare at the neighbor with a guilty look, it’s better than claiming you are an undercover police officer and landing yourself in jail for impersonating an officer.  Don’t do that.
  9. If you don’t have heavily tinted windows, don’t pretend you do.  You look like a complete moron sitting there like a statue, pretending I can’t see you.
  10. Bring sharp needles to shove under your fingernails or toothpicks to pry your eyes open for those especially boring surveillance jobs.  Nothing is worse than failing to capture useful photos or video because you were snoozing, only to realize you have to return tomorrow for the same mind-numbing job.
  11. Keep pretending with your friends to have the coolest job ever.  And don’t share this blog post with them.