Recently I was contacted by a fellow Private Investigator near me for a domestic surveillance case. Even though my experience doing team surveillance was limited, he was willing to give me a shot. The case required multiple investigators to follow the subject's vehicle and to get video and photo coverage of them from multiple angles. You just can't do that as a single investigator. Worse, it is very easy to lose your subject as a single investigator, and that exact scenario happened the night of the work.
The objective was simple enough. We knew where the subject parked and where he worked. The subject's spouse knew he was cheating already too, but she wanted court evidence to profit from her spouse's infidelity. That is one of the primary lessons to be learned from me sharing this information. I'm in Virginia. In Virginia if you are caught as the cheater, the courts will crush you. If you're thinking about cheating, don't do it! You pay a very heavy price for cheating in a relationship. No one gets away with it forever either. That's one reason Private Investigators exist.
No matter how lousy the truth is, I believe people deserve to have it. Sure, if you're in an open relationship, have all the sexual partners you want. Your spouse has consented to it. If your spouse expects you to be faithful however, you had better be faithful. You can't? End the contract and move on. Be ethical and do the right thing. Don't lie to people and deceive them. Cheating on someone is an awful thing to do, and there are people like me who will gladly catch you. In my opinion, cheaters deserve to be crushed. They have been unfaithful, dishonest, and unethical.
Getting back to the case, we knew the subject's work schedule. We also knew they had reserved a room at a local hotel. Thinking they were really slick, they had a separate email address to make those reservations. They were not as slick as they thought however, and their spouse knew about the email address and had access to it. This person had made multiple hotel reservations in the past, so the spouse, as I stated above, already knew what was happening. Well, because we knew where the subject parked and where he was going, all we had to do was wait at their vehicle.
We are communicating on a conference call, and there are three investigators. The parking garage has multiple exits, and there's no easy way to know for sure which direction out of the garage will be taken. That's one reason for needing multiple investigators. Also, once you begin following the suspect, you will have the vehicle behind them turn off, and the vehicle behind that vehicle continues. That way the same vehicle is never behind the subject for a long period. By doing that, the subject is less likely to burn you. To be burned means you've been had, and the subject knows they are under surveillance.
The suspect gets off work at 9 PM, and they get a shuttle to their vehicle. I'm sitting at the North exit of the garage, one investigator is sitting right near the subject's car, and another investigator is on the South side. No matter where they come from or which way they leave, we will not lose them. Time passes though, and the subject doesn't arrive. The time he got off work passes, and the minutes tick by. There's no sign of them, and each shuttle that arrives is not bringing our subject. Eventually, the lead investigator decides we had better leave for the hotel. Why would we do that you might ask?
Well, imagine you're the cheating spouse, and you think you're smart. Would you use your private vehicle? I certainly wouldn't. That was our concern. Perhaps he got a ride to the hotel. We had no way of knowing for sure. At 9:40 the decision was made to call it and leave. We knew the subject had a hotel reservation, and why would they make it without plans to use it? That would make no sense. Therefore, our best option was to go to the hotel since the subject had not been seen at their vehicle. As we were pulling out of our positions however, a shuttle arrived. To our surprise, it had the subject on it!
When that happened, I was already on my way out of the area. Again, this is another reason for multiple investigators. One investigator had stayed in position, and that investigator was of course the one on the subject's vehicle. They saw the subject and their companion, so myself and the other investigator had to change our course and do it very quickly. At the time I was in the left lane about to make a left turn to go North. Instead, I turned right, went down the road, turned around, and waited. The lead investigator, having left first, was much further away than me. They had to pull off the road and stop. When I saw the subject, now with the subject's companion in a separate vehicle behind them, make that same left turn I was going to make, I pulled in behind them.
Once the lead investigator was passed by the two vehicles, he pulled in behind them. We all then went to the hotel together, but the subject and his companion had no idea they were being followed. When they pulled into the hotel, I kept driving past and made a turn after the hotel to double back. The investigator behind me though turned in right behind them. They wouldn't suspect anything because that investigator's vehicle hadn't been behind them at all. Once into the parking lot of the hotel, we all took up different positions. I happened to be on the South side in a well lit area. The other two investigators watched, and recorded with video cameras, the two walking into a hotel room.
The two spent over an hour in the hotel room, and plenty of video and photo evidence was collected to document their stay together. When they left the room, the lead investigator had actually exited his vehicle to get a good face shot and close up of the two as they exited. While he was on foot, I was ready to follow the companion's vehicle. The two walked down a set of stairs. As they did, they were holding hands and smiling. The other investigator still in his vehicle, a block away by the way and parked in the dark, got images of the two kissing and hugging as they departed. The companion left first, and I was ready and waiting. They exited the hotel parking lot in a hurry, and I just barely made the light behind them.
The other two investigators were cut off and way behind. Once the subject's companion made that turn, they made another turn right onto a highway. I had my windows down and the heat on in my vehicle, and that allowed my cameras to have superb clarity. Well, closing my windows caused my windows to instantly fog up, and for a second while on the entrance ramp to the highway, I was completely blind. I couldn't see anything out of my windshield at all! All that mattered though was that I hadn't lost the person, and I kept on their tail until they had made multiple other turns. If I had not been there, the other investigators would have lost them.
I followed them through back roads and through multiple turns. The other two investigators didn't catch up until almost 15 minutes later. As I drove down the road, I was giving landmarks and mile markers to provide location and make it easier for the investigators behind me to know how soon they would be in sight of my vehicle. As soon as they caught up, I immediately turned off. Again, we didn't want to get burned, and the companion may have been suspicious of my following for so long. Then I fell in as the third vehicle behind the other two investigators.
We followed them through the countryside with the objective of finding out where they lived. Sure, we already had the make, model, and plate on their vehicle, but it could be someone else's vehicle. At the very least, it was good experience to continue the operation and follow them to the end. Eventually, the person pulled off into a private and gated community. Our job was done for the night. The lead vehicle kept driving past, and the other two of us followed. A good place was found to stop, and everyone pulled over. At that location, our video files were exchanged and we discussed the night's events.
Things could not have gone better. We had the mix up at the beginning with the schedule and the subject arriving late, but the situation was handled very well. Then we had the companion exiting so quickly, but I made sure not to lose them. Again, we had recovered from a potential disaster, and we had done it very well. Most importantly, the client was provided with a report that confirmed their suspicions. They would be able to seek justice for the wrongs committed against them too. It was a good night for me and an excellent experience, and I was thrilled to be a part of a professional team that provided someone with the truth they deserved to have.