Private investigators can offer some very helpful information to a client who is going through a separation or divorce. Through surveillance, the investigator should be able to witness the subject (aka soon-to-be-ex) interacting with others and engaging in daily routines in their “normal” manner.”
But what happens if you’re the one being watched? And how can you know for sure?
Investigators will do their best not to be detected because once they are, the subject will usually alter habits and daily routines. However, there are a few things to ask yourself if you’re concerned about surveillance:
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- Do you see the same person or vehicle again and again? If you can see the licence plate from a distance, jot it down. If possible, you can also take a discreet photo of the stranger so you can refer to it later if needed.
- Have you seen a vehicle in your neighbourhood that isn’t normally there? How many days? At what times? Does it look like someone is inside?
- Has there been somebody snooping around your property? If you have cameras installed around your home, it won’t be too hard to tell.
For any of the above situations, you can always ignore it. Yes, that sounds really passive, but keeping calm and continuing on with your day may actually be your best defense mechanism.
You can also call the police. Let them know what you’ve noticed, and give them the licence plate number if you have it. They will do all the leg work. However, you shouldn’t expect a detailed response from the police in the end.
Police may advise you that the surveillance is legal or that the vehicle is associated with an investigator, but legally, no police officer is permitted to confirm that the surveillance is of you. Note that if the police find that the surveillance is not being conducted by a licensed investigator, they may lay charges of stalking and may or may not advise you of an arrest.
It is important to understand that calling the Police will interrupt surveillance of you, but it will notput an end to any legal surveillance of you in the long run. Surveillance by a licensed investigator is legal, and although it may take some regrouping or the addition of more investigators, surveillance will continue.
There are also a couple of things you can do if you are driving and you believe you’re being followed:
- Nothing! Again, you can ignore it and go about your day. The investigator is there to observe you being you. So be the best you that you can be.
- 3 Rights or 3 lefts. While on route to wherever you’re going, take a series of 3 right turns or 3 left turns. If the vehicle takes the same route, then the odds are pretty good that you are being followed. You can then decide to call the police and tell them – they will attend – or you can use that information to your advantage and be the best you that you can be.
The thought of being followed can be scary at first, and for most of us, the first reaction is to panic or change our behaviour. People will start driving erratically or speed up in order to “lose” the person following them. Sometimes, if on foot, they will literally run away. However, none of that is effective.
A seasoned investigator knows when to let you go, and how to proceed at a later time (possibly with more investigators to assist). Furthermore, the report will say that you panicked, and will suggest that you have something to hide.
Therefore, your best bet is to remain calm, think about why the investigator may have been hired to watch you, and go about your daily routine. Make sure to update your family lawyer accordingly, and perhaps consider counter-surveillance (but that’s a story for later).