Diversity Doesnt Mean Adversity in Surveillance

In the world of investigations it is of the utmost importance for the investigator to remain virtually invisible yet be able to capture evidence that can be as detailed as the subject’s eye colour; however, quite often the most intricate piece of an investigation is simply to establish identity. With our population growth and expanding melting pot this task can become progressively difficult, requiring new investigative tools as well as the creativity of the investigators themselves. Our present economy is another factor that also adds to the complexity with more and more family members being forced to share a residence again emphasizing the importance of establishing identity.

In dealing with these situations the most advantageous point to conduct surveillance would be a time where we can be absolutely certain that the subject will be attending an event or better yet an appointment, keeping in mind that we continuously operate with an objective view point. In other words we only want the truth as opposed to making an attempt to prove a theory we may have been lead to believe.

In a recent case we ran into all these issues simultaneously in a very busy area in the GTA. We were to conduct surveillance on a lady who was claiming a leg injury and as a result was unable to walk without the assistance of a cane. The one big advantage we had in this particular case was the fact that we were armed with a date for her to attend for an assessment. We had a physical description such as height, age, and weight so with this information we set up outside the subject’s house. We knew her appointment was at 3pm and that she was at least 30 minutes (without traffic) from where her doctor was located. At approximately 3:20pm she exited her home with a cane in her hand; however, holding it like a baton rather than a support. We then observed her walk past the car parked in the driveway and towards the nearest bus stop. Everything matched the description of the lady we were assigned to except one minor detail, she was wearing a burca completely hiding her face. We now had to focus on other details that would prove this to be the right person in order to allow the evidence admissible.

As she walked toward the bus stop she realized her bus had already arrived as people were pouring on and her quick step immediately turned to a full out sprint. Our investigator had hit the jackpot. We now had the lady in question clearly breaching her alleged restrictions. The investigator continued to focus on her shoes as they were the only articles that stood out from the rest of the traditional garment. We had now captured the evidence, all we had left to prove was her identity. We knew she was going to a doctor’s appointment and we knew the location. Based on the normal practice of presenting your name when entering a reception area; we knew this would be the key ingredient to proving her identity and matching this sprinter (and her shoes) to the subject in question. Now all we had to do was beat the bus to the destination — and that is exactly what the investigator did — waiting for the subject with a covert camera in hand. Oblivious to our `invisible’ investigator; as the subject arrived and gave her name, the receptionist wasn’t the only one recording it.