Cases usually start very early mornings before the bathroom lights start to go on in the apartment buildings. Before sanitation trucks begin their pick-ups. It’s quiet and dark, sometimes very cold or very hot and sometimes raining. Always changing. Sometimes it’s a cheating spouse in Springfield Gardens, Queens, or a child support case in Long Island City. I always park away from my subject’s residence and get out on foot to walk the area to get a feel for the neighborhood. Sometimes a dog will bark or a motion-activated light will go on as I walk by along the empty sidewalks.
I scope out vehicles, determine departure routes and try to focus on what front awnings, front doors, and bushes look like so that I will be able to watch with care who comes out of where hours later. Some cases are on foot and some in a vehicle. It could be a worker’s compensation case in Woodside where the person walks to work or a child custody case in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn where they take the train. Sometimes I don’t know until the last minute which it will be.
I plan where to park or stand to start my surveillance. I plan which direction a person might walk or drive, which direction they might drive so I can follow. I watch traffic patterns and neighbor patterns to guide what I may need to do to follow with success. This is where many years of experience comes in. Every area is different. A neighborhood in Gravesend is not the same as one in Brownsville. I think, “If I sit here, what will happen. If I sit over there, what might happen?” I try to guess the future. “Most likely they will go this way at this time by this mode of transportation.”
Of course, I have gotten input from the client and done my pre-surveillance research, which also helps with my planning. Then comes the decision to execute my day in a certain way. I set up and wait. Just like a hunter. I wait for my prey.
The surveillance investigation is tedious. It is tiring. At times it is long and boring. At times it is nerve-wracking staring at the tail light of a car one block away for hours for a sign – for movement or activity from someone getting in and stepping on the brake signaling that they are about to pull out. Staring at the front door waiting for someone to appear.
Once there is a sign – maybe the tailpipe exhaust on a cold morning from a vehicle just started, then the blood starts pumping faster. I become instantly hyper-focused, knowing the chase is about to begin. I’m watching all-around – people, vehicles, bicycles. Is someone going to block my view at the last moment? Will a bicycle rider pass by me the second I need to pull out in pursuit of the subject? I need to watch be watching what is going on all around me at the same time as the subject, including behind me. I need to focus on getting my subject but also protect everyone around me while I do so.
The chase begins. Hopefully, a great “chasing song” is playing on the radio – a definite sign that it will be a good day. Both hands on the wheel with a tight grip, my blood pressure is sky high, I’m hyper-focused – eyes wide open. I need to focus on a million things around me at once, and not lose my subject. Countless thoughts are racing through my mind at once. Every foot of space we travel takes a super high level of concentration. Do I follow closer or is more space needed? Are they turning soon? Should I turn in this parking lot to get a better view? Question after question. Every chase is different.
The Money Shot
Finally, we arrive at a destination. Time for the video or still photos. What is the weather? Rain? Snow? Is it dark? Can I get good footage without being blocked? When I finally get that “money shot” I feel amazing. All of the planning and execution have come together to get that moment on video or photo. What a feeling! Like winning a marathon. I feel stoked!
Investigreat, LLC is a recognized full-service surveillance Private Investigation Agency that is fully licensed, insured, and bonded in Jamaica, handling cases in Queens NY, Brooklyn NY, Bronx NY, New York City, Long Island NY and all of Connecticut. Adam Dornfeld along with his wife, Terri have been working cases from missing persons and surveillance to all general investigation services since 1992.
Investigreat, LLC | Private Investigators serving Jamaica NY, Brooklyn NY, Queens NY | Office: 718-412-1845 | Text: 718-309-1269