Sherlock Investigation’s Tricks of the Surveillance Trade
Brian Coykendall has been with Sherlock Investigations for over ten years. He professes that he loves his job as much now as he did as a new surveillance investigator! As a former Marine and previous criminal justice study, he has been able to transition those skills of paying attention to detail and remaining alert, to the field of insurance investigations. On days that don’t require his head be on a swivel, Brian enjoys light exercise, playing softball, mountain biking, hiking, hunting and fishing. This series is facilitated to give the reader a taste of the field investigator’s daily surveillance routine. Let’s get to know our first interviewee, Brian, a little more!
How do you begin your workday?
I feel that any surveillance file, even with all the help of pre-surveillance work-ups from our team of data collection experts and our expert scheduling guru, still requires a fair amount of intel collection before conducting any field work. Downloading and familiarizing myself with all the pertinent correspondence regarding the surveillance file is absolutely necessary. After that, a mapping website of the subject’s home, schedule appointment location and workplace (if applicable) is reviewed and studied to help identify decent setup locations and prescribed routes of egress. One last thing before going to bed the night prior, I will visit my Accuweather application on my phone to help determine if my initial plan of action will be affected by any extreme or ongoing deteriorating, weather conditions.
What does your surveillance setup consist of?
My typical surveillance setup is made up of what I like to call “my rolling office.” I utilize a 2016 Dodge Grand Caravan, usually with the middle seats out for a lot of wiggle room when needing to “hide” while posted up in a great vantage position. The tinted windows allow for me to move around in the rear of my van without giving away that I’m present inside. I have the ability to carry just about any equipment that I deem necessary for the objectives that I’m challenged with on that particular day of investigative work. A large tripod can be setup inside with no acknowledgment by any outside person. I’m also afforded the opportunity of blending in with the “soccer Dad” presentation, giving very little suspicion to my vehicle of choice.
Do you have a go to persona or cover that you use in the field when on surveillance?
One general cover that I usually present to anyone that inquires of my presence, besides law enforcement, of course, is that I am a civil process server with paperwork that I need to personally deliver to a neighbor that does not appear to be home. I inform the concerned neighbor that I may be present for a number of hours until I can complete my work and that their local law enforcement has been informed of my presence. This gives the neighbors a timeline and a sense of security. Uniforms (i.e. safety vests, i.d. tags, etc.) can assist with a number of additional covers. I’ve personally found that the civil process story works everywhere, as summons and complaints, divorce decrees, subpoenas and all remaining court documents requiring process service is usually understood, and accepted, by most.
Why is a company full of unique investigators beneficial for a diverse case load?
I find working with our team at Sherlock to be very beneficial in a number of ways! The fact that we are big enough of a company to structure teams of subject matter experts really proves to be a major advantage. Knowing that I can call on an expert investigator, with any specific investigative element, means that I call with confidence and that my needs while in the field will be immediately met, with positive results! The uniqueness of such a structure, in an industry overwhelmingly flooded with one and two-man operations, provides an instantaneous flow of vital information needed throughout any varying type of surveillance file.
How do you keep yourself at an advantage in this line of work?
Ongoing education plays a major role in keeping ahead in this industry. Connecting with career minded professionals via LinkedIn and other social media platforms helps sharpen my knowledge of the objectives, goals and overall opinions of our work. The same can be applied to the technological advances that can benefit me while in the field also. As minimal and unnecessary some may feel, keeping physically strong with even limited physical exercise assists in much surveillance. The need to exit my vehicle and sprint into a position that is inaccessible with my vehicle, the possibility of needing to utilize a piece of gym equipment next to my claimant, or something as simple as needing the stamina to stand for hours in the same position are all scenarios I have personally experienced, among others. I’ve also learned, over the years, to always ask up front what the overall and specific objectives are regarding any surveillance file. This information can help when determining setup locations, vantage points and how aggressive I may need to be to complete those goals.