Surveillance Investigation Mishaps

For the most part, a day of a surveillance investigation goes without any incidents.  However, there are days when something goes horribly wrong.  Last week, I experienced a mishap that literally compromised an entire day of my surveillance investigation.  The mishap was definitely not a rookie mistake, as I have approximately two decades of surveillance experience.  I try to always head out to a surveillance investigation properly prepared (extra camera / battery, full tank of gas, food, water, clothing, etc).  Sometimes, situations are just out of our control, even for a well-seasoned investigator like myself.

This particular surveillance investigation began like any other.  I was prepared and arrived on time to the claimant’s medical appointment.  As I was canvassing the parking lot area, my vehicle simply shut off and then slowly rolled to a stop.  Of course, I was nowhere near the entrances / exits of the building, which meant I could not determine if/when/how the claimant arrived to the appointment.  After the initial panic, I regrouped and managed to get my vehicle started with a jump start from a generous citizen.  However, after traveling approximately ten feet, my vehicle shut off again.  No worries right, because I carry jumper cables and a 500 Amp jump pack in my trunk for situations like these.  A dead battery won’t keep me down.  However, keeping a long story short, it was an alternator issue.  Something entirely out of my control.  Unfortunately, I don’t carry an extra alternator, vehicle hoist and mechanic in my trunk too.  So, at that time, a second investigator was dispatched to my location to take over the surveillance investigation.  That’s the great part about working with a strong team and a lot of bench strength to rely on.

As I rode to the repair shop in the tow truck, with my dead vehicle strapped onboard, my mind wandered.  I felt several emotions.  I felt bad for my colleagues who had to hustle to cover for me in the field, perturbed about my vehicle, nervous about the repair expense and very embarrassed about the whole situation. I, like any surveillance expert, never want to disappoint a client or appear unprepared.  However, I kept reminding myself that situations like these are simply out of our control.  So, after paying nearly $700 for a new alternator, I recalled an old saying…*t happens, no matter how well prepared and experienced you are.  Until next time, stay safe and alert out there.