Being a Private Investigator in New York City is not an easy job. It takes a lot of research, being that it is a city with over 8.85 million people that are all living in a total land area of 304.8 square miles (789.4 square kilometers). When we try to locate someone to do surveillance on (aka follow), we need a great deal of expertise and deep dives into exclusive databases not available to the public in order to find someone and to confirm where they live. Sometimes it is a single-family home (my favorite), and they drive a private vehicle (also my favorite); however, many times, they are in apartment houses and take public transportation (let the challenge begin!).
Once we have the person (aka the “Subject”) in our sights, the fun begins. The adrenaline starts pumping; we turn up the music and let the chase begin. We follow them all over to see if we can catch them in the midst of that kiss with someone (that is not their partner), or sneaking off to work that job off the books so we can report back to their ex that they do, in fact have an income. But while we follow them in and out of the traffic and the spider’s web of streets and subways, we also have to ensure they do not see us in the process. That is the trickiest part of all. It is also when being a “husband and wife PI team” is one of our best tools to use as needed. We have managed many times to blend in and hide in plain sight due to some fast thinking and great tricks of the trade.
Now you may be wondering what those tricks are. Well, as the say in the movies, “I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you” (just kidding). But seriously, we have had too many times that we had to pull something out of the proverbial air to keep our cover “undercover” over the years that I could write hundreds of blogs on them, but I will share a few with you now.
There are different “covers” that we use for different situations. Some are in the car and some on foot. Each one brings a different set of challenges. Let’s start with the ones in the car:
- The Argument. This one almost always works, especially with nosey neighbors. Oftentimes we need to sit for a very long time in the car. Sometimes we are together in the car and sometimes we are not, but either way, the “couple arguing” almost always gets people to stay clear and leave us alone. I remember this one time when this neighbor was watching us as we watched someone else in DUMBO, Brooklyn (for those that do not know what that means, it stands for “Down Under The Manhattan Bridge Overpass”). We were well aware that we had “worn out our welcome” at that point, so I turned around physically with my back to him and faced my husband, who is the driver in most team surveillance and I usually go off on foot when needed. I started to wave my hands around and Adam watched the residence, so it appeared as though he was ignoring me as I was complaining about whatever (something that was easy to replicate through live experience lol). The neighbor, not wanting to get involved, went back to the residence and did not bother us again.
- Have You Seen My Dog? We sometimes need to go close to the residence to see if we can spot a car nearby that we know belongs to the Subject. Or perhaps we need to walk the street back and forth a few times to check for where a person may be, such as the “wandering spouse” that is visiting someone they are not married to while the client is at work. In this case we sometimes need to go out on foot. To avoid suspicion, we will sometimes do so by carrying a leash. For example, we were working a case in South Ozone Park in Queens when we were looking for a black sedan with TLC plates. Now anyone from that area knows that there are many, many black sedans with TLC plates. I would venture to say that we have worked in that area too many times to count and there must be a hundred cars that fit that description. While the Client did not have the make, they did have the plate, so we both split up and literally went to the area at night (yes it was dangerous – just don’t tell my mother) and walked up and down the street with a dog leash in our hands until we found the vehicle. We did come across a person here and there and we just asked if they had seen our dog. One even said they thought they saw it up the road. So if you are missing a white German Shepherd in that area, there is one by the quickie-mart in case you haven’t located them yet.
- Kiss Me, Baby. We had just located a woman that was “spending the night with a friend” in Navy Yard, Brooklyn, who we had followed all the way to Broadway in Manhattan where she was with someone that appeared to us to be “more than a friend” and not the middle-aged woman she claimed to be visiting unless she got a sex change (and a very good one I might add if that is the case). We were following behind the couple for several blocks. They were holding hands and snuggling up as they walked along. They walked along for quite a while and eventually came up to the giant “LOVE” sculpture. Any New Yorker knows what that is. They started to get a little hot and heavy when the woman stopped and started to look around. My husband immediately grabbed me and started to kiss me as I looked over his shoulder to keep eyes on the Subject. Satisfied that we were not a threat, the woman went back to what she was doing and I continued to watch her and kept my phone camera on them the entire time (well, most of the time – that was a good kiss!) and got the video we needed for the client.
- The Wave. This is something we came up with on the fly and have used it ever since. We were following a cabbie to La Guardia Airport in East Elmhurst, Queens. He claimed he was not working so he would not have to pay child support. We followed him all the way there from his home and were getting video of him unloading the car for a family that was traveling. We were parked right in back of him as anyone that has been to the airport knows if you aren’t on their bumper in that airport, you will lose them in a heartbeat. He had his back to us the entire time. We watched him retrieve the bags he had put into the car, then bring them to the outside check-in. He then returned to wait for his tip, which we got a close-up of on video. Then he turned towards us to walk around the car and stared at us. “Look towards the entrance and wave!” I almost yelled at my husband. We both began waving like crazy people and blowing kisses at total strangers as they entered the terminal. He immediately figured we had just dropped someone off and lost any suspicion he may have had and returned to the cab and drove away in search of his next fare.
- Are You Selling Your Home? We were in a beautiful area of Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, with lovely upscale homes. Our assignment was to make sure that the teenage girl staying there alone and unsupervised over the weekend stayed that way. The parents were concerned about her deadbeat boyfriend staying the night, and they did not want to become grandparents. So we were hired for very long surveillance (24/7). For this case, we split the time between us. I took days, and my husband took nights. Of course, by the middle of the first day, the “Karens” in the area were watching me as much as I was watching the house. The teen had not left the premises, and no one had shown up yet, although we knew that he would soon because she was seen looking through the curtains several times. So I was on alert when I saw a male “Karen” approaching me from two houses away. Fortunately, he did not block my view of the house as he approached my car. “Excuse me, but would you please tell me what you are doing sitting here on the street?” he asked in an authoritative way. Without missing a beat, I responded, “Why yes, my husband and I are interested in buying in this area. I always check an area for a few days before I commit to anything. I like to make sure I am not being fooled into buying in an area that I do not feel meets my standards, if you know what I mean.” and winked at him. He smiled back and said, “Well, this area is wonderful. You won’t be disappointed” was his response. I countered with, “which home is yours if you don’t mind my asking?” He pointed to a house about four doors down – I already knew he had come out of it, but I wanted to act as if I hadn’t noticed. “Lovely. Is it for sale?” I asked, pretending to be interested. “No, ma’am. But I heard the family down the block might be selling,” he said, trying to be helpful. “Thank you. I will keep it in mind. Have a nice day – future neighbor!” I said and then rolled the window back up. He took the hint and left to return to his house. About 20 minutes later, Romeo showed up at the house. I called the Client and sat back to watch the fireworks as they pulled up and ran into the house. About five minutes later, I watched as Romeo jumped out the side window into his car and drove off full speed. It would have made the Dukes of Hazzard proud. I got the entire thing on video. I would have made a great Tik Tok too. Too bad I can’t use it.
So as you can see, we need to do a lot of “improv” in order to stay undercover while performing surveillance. It can be a lot of fun when it works out. But please don’t try this at home. I’m a licensed professional and am authorized to do this. You, on the other hand, would be considered a stalker and would most likely burn the case for me or whatever PI you hire after you have been caught. So if you need surveillance done on someone, please hire someone that is experienced, not just your cousin or friend that watched some PI shows and thinks they can. Because I can tell you from experience that when your buddy gets caught (and they will) and the subject knows that you are on to them, it makes my job that much harder. So do us both a favor, and call me first. And if you are the kid that jumped out of the window at the residence in Brooklyn, let me know if I can use you in my next Tik Tok. It will go viral, I’m sure!
Investigreat, LLC is a recognized full service Private Investigation Agency that is fully licensed, insured and bonded, handling cases all over Connecticut as well as Queens NY, Brooklyn NY, Bronx NY, New York City, Staten Island and Long Island NY. Terri, along with her husband Adam, have been working cases for Legal Teams, Insurance Companies, Private Businesses, Municipalities, School Systems and general investigation services for the public since 1992.
Investigreat, LLC | Private Investigators serving Connecticut, Long Island City, Jamaica NY, Brooklyn NY and Queens NY | Office Numbers: 860-899-1710 or 718-412-1845 | Text: 718-309-1269