Private Investigator Surveillance Terminology In Queens NY

You found yourself in a situation where you need the help of a Private Investigator.  You know that you need a professional that will be able to help you get answers to a difficult situation.  However, you might find that you are not at all familiar with some of the comments and phrases that are used when you are discussing your case with your Private Detective.  This article is designed to help you understand some of the terms that are used in the Private Investigator’s terminology, along with some examples to help you better understand what they are saying when dealing with them and your case.


In a majority of cases, especially infidelity (aka cheating spouse/partner), the main go-to is referred to as “surveillance”.  This is when the Private Investigator will set up in a low profile position and watch the subject (aka the cheater) and follow them to see where they go and videotape them.  This is the main way to find out if the alleged cheater is actually cheating or just out sneaking a double-cheeseburger against his doctor’s orders.  The typical surveillance goes down as follows:   The PI will ‘find a spot” to set up – now this can take many shapes.  For example, it may be in Bayside by million dollar homes – you need to find an optimal spot to park that is not too close but close enough to follow them when they leave.  Or you could be following someone that takes a subway out of Forest Hills – this may require one person in the car and the other ready to hop out and follow them into the city.  Some cases can be very complex – you may need someone at the “starting point” (aka their house) and another person at the supposed “end point” to see if they end up there or not, with a person on foot to follow them in-between.  One thing is for sure – the more information you can give the Private Investigator on their regular routine, the easier it will be for them to get you the information that you are looking for.


The investigator needs a spot to “set up” in when beginning the surveillance.  These, as already stated, can take many different forms.  For example, a set up to follow someone in a child custody situation may be different than say a Worker’s Compensation Injury Case.  Both require the investigator to “hide in plain sight” but one requires you to be closer to get better video footage long term, where the other may require more “drive-byes.” The investigator then attempts to get an “ID Shot” (aka – a picture of the person the investigator believes to be the subject – this is then sent to the client to confirm they are following the correct person).  There is also a “Time Shot” which documents that the investigator was in a certain location doing surveillance at certain increments of time.  This helps to show the client that the investigator was in that area doing the surveillance as agreed upon.


A “Tough Sit” can often happen when the subject lives in an area that is difficult to park in and not be noticed.  For example – the subject may live on a street where it is really hard to get a parking spot.  The investigator may need to arrive very early in order to find one and it may not be an optimal choice.  Sometimes they may need to wait in a “fire hydrant spot.”  This works in a pinch, however it also limits the investigator since once they are limited to that, they no longer have the luxury of “hoping out and following on foot”.  However, when the investigator is able to set up in an optimal position, it is very beneficial.  For example, you may need proof in a Child Support Case that your ex is working off the books somewhere.  Your court case is coming up and you need proof of him working in Howard Beach on Cross Bay Blvd.  The investigator needs to be able to follow them and get them going in the back of that restaurant and not the front where customers enter.  In most cases, the investigator has to figure out how to discretely sit in the rear portion of the parking area without being “made” (aka noticed) in order to get the footage needed for the client.


This is a rarity but if the subject is “Hinky” it refers to when they seem to be aware that they are being followed.  They take random turns for no reason to see if they are followed.  They go in “circles” around the block, etc. “testing for a tail” (aka someone following them).  Sometimes it is not the subject that is hinky, but rather the neighborhood.  Some neighbors just need to know everyone’s business.  That can lead to different problems.  For example, if that nosy neighbor in Woodhaven starts calling other neighbors about the strange car parked on their street.  If it becomes too difficult to stay there, the investigator may need to “break off” and find another location in which to wait for the subject.


Another time that the investigator may need to “break off” is when they are following the subject for too long and risk the chance of “getting made” or “burning the case”.  This is of course, never good.  It means the subject has just realized that the vehicle behind them has been behind them for way too long.  This is when a “two-person case” (aka a pair or team of private investigators working together) is optimal.  The first person will “break off” (aka leave) and the second person will take over.  Now that the suspicious vehicle has left the area, the subject thinks it is safe to proceed to wherever they were planning to go without being hinky.  It also helps to have a Private Investigator with more than one vehicle at their disposal so that they can switch vehicles on different days to throw the subject off.


 Sometimes the investigator can be separated from the subject due to traffic.  Anyone that has tried to cut through Ridgewood at the end of the work day knows that it is not an easy thing to do.  Occasionally the investigator may “lose them” in traffic.  When this happens, they will have to “canvass the area” (aka drive around the vicinity that the investigator believes the subject may be in) to try to pick up the subject once again.  Sometimes they need to “break it off” for the day and start again the next time.  However, it is not always a bad thing.  If the next time the investigator follows the subject to the same area, then they begin to learn the pattern.  Now they can sit in that area on that road and pick them up from a different location, which helps them to continue to “hide in plain sight.”


There are, however, many times that the planets align and everything goes as planned.  This can lead to “the money shot” (the prize video of the subject doing something they should not be).  These are the days that leave the investigator “stoked” (or pumped up).  This most often comes with patience and a “loose tail” (giving a lot of space between the subject and the investigator).  


Overall, with a seasoned private investigative team working for you, you should conceivably get the results that you are looking for, (aka the truth).  When you are ready to begin, contact us and we will be here ready to help.  We have the team and the experience to get you the best results possible for your case.  Because when you want great investigative results, what you need is InvestiGREAT.  Contact us today for your free consultation and let’s get to work.


Investigreat, LLC is a recognized full service Private Investigation Agency that is fully licensed, insured and bonded in Jamaica, Long Island City and CT, handling cases in Queens NY, Brooklyn NY, the Bronx, Manhattan, Long Island NY and all of Connecticut.  Terri Dornfeld, along with her husband Adam, have been working cases from missing persons and surveillance to worker’s compensation and all general investigation services since 1992.

Investigreat LLC | Private Investigators serving New York, including but not limited to:  Jamaica NY,  Long Island City NY,  Brooklyn NY,  Queens NY, Bronx NY, Manhattan NY, Flushing NY, Mineola NY, Valley Stream NY, Westchester County NY, Long Island NY and all areas of Connecticut. 

Office: 718-412-1845 | Text: 718-309-1269

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