January 6, 2022

Tools That We Use As Private Investigators

We don't conduct investigations the same way we did 20 years ago. In today's day and age, there is a vast amount of sophisticated technology and equipment we are able to leverage as private investigators to do our job more effectively and efficiently. Things like: cameras with long zooms, drones, tiny cameras and microphones that can be hidden or disguised, surveillance vehicles, and more.  

With that being said, it is important to understand that the success of an investigation relies on the knowledge and skill of the investigator as well as having the best tools to complete the job.

Knowledge and skill of the private investigator + the tools you have to conduct the investigation = the success of the investigation.

At Universal Investigations Agency, Inc. not only do our private investigators have the knowledge and skills gained from hands-on experience, but we also leverage the most up-to-date investigative equipment to get the job done. Here are some of the different technologies we use to boost our investigative abilities as private investigators:

1. Cameras

As private investigators, we use an array of cameras to support our surveillance capabilities. We use cameras such as: long zoom DSLR cameras, baseball cap cameras, watch cameras, drones, and other types of covert camera equipment.

Having different types of cameras allows us to conduct surveillance in countless different ways to help provide our clients with the best evidence possible.

Long zoom cameras

A long zoom DSLR camera is one of the most common tools a private investigator will use to conduct surveillance. The long zoom allows the investigator to conduct surveillance from a distance and limit the risk of getting caught. Often times the investigator will find a safe vantage point to conduct surveillance from such as a surveillance vehicle. From the vantage point they can then use the long zoom of the camera to conduct surveillance on the target and gather evidence if needed.

Hidden Cameras

Small hidden cameras can be great tools for Private Investigators.

Hidden cameras can be utilized one of two ways. Private investigators can either choose to conceal the camera within an article of their own clothing, or choose to leave the camera where the target of surveillance will not see it. This allows the investigator to record someone closely without them knowing.

A great example of hidden cameras being concealed within a article of clothing would be when following a subject into a public building where the long zoom camera might not be as useful. In this circumstance, the private investigator might use something like a baseball cap with a hidden camera in it and physically follow them in order to continue the surveillance investigation.

The other way hidden cameras can be used is hiding it somewhere such as in a vehicle or other areas where it can gather evidence on the target and not be seen. For example, if we are following someone and they use their cell phone a lot to make calls it would be beneficial to place a hidden camera near there phone charger port which will provide us the evidence we need without them knowing that their actions are being recorded.


We also leverage drones to enhance our abilities to conduct effective investigations. Drones are extremely useful tools for Private investigators that are great at getting us a view of places that may be hard to get into, or to conduct surveillance from a far location.

A common use for drones is to help confirm if the target of surveillance is at the suspected location before our investigators make the effort to enter somewhere that may be difficult to gain access to.

For example, if the subject of surveillance lives in a gated community, you can use the drone for physical confirmation that the suspect is present before making the effort to enter.

2. Microphones

As private investigators, we also use microphones to enhance our surveillance capabilities. The power and versatility of microphones in the hands of a private investigator cannot be overstated.

We can conceal or disguise a microphone in order to listen in on what people are saying and gather evidence. These microphones can be disguised as many different things, such as a power strip or a flash drive, and can be listened to from a remote location.

3. GPS Devices

GPS devices are another common tool private investigators will use when conducting surveillance. They are commonly placed on a suspects vehicle to track the vehicles movement and determine if they are meeting with an individual or visiting locations that may be suspicious.  

4. Surveillance Vehicles

Surveillance vehicles offer a lot of benefits to a private investigator. Number one being that most surveillance investigations involve following a target and having a vehicle that can blend in. It's much easier to follow a target if you aren't in a conspicuous white van.

Another benefit is that it allows the investigator to park it anywhere and they automatically have a safe space to conduct surveillance from.

Most commonly the investigator will park the vehicle where they have a good view of the target or where they suspect the target might be. While using a long zoom DSLR camera they will watch their target and gather video or picture evidence if needed.

How you build out your surveillance vehicle is really up to you, but ours has a few unique features to help us conduct surveillance safely and effectively.

  1. Tinted Windows - often times the investigators will be conducting surveillance from the inside of the vehicle and tinted windows simply help them not be seen while in the vehicle.
  2. Surveillance cameras on the outside of the vehicle - having surveillance cameras  with a 360 degree range of vision on the outside of the vehicle helps the investigator on the inside of the vehicle stay aware of their surroundings and make sure they are not in trouble. That's not all though, this also allows us to park the vehicle in a public location and conduct surveillance via the vehicle itself from a laptop in our office.
  3. Computer in the van - we have a laptop in the van that is connected to the surveillance cameras giving us a view of what's going on outside the van. The laptop also gives us access to all the information we might need for an investigation as well as a way to write down any new information collected during an investigation.

5. Debugging Devices

Unlike everything we've talked about so far that helps us conduct surveillance on other people, debugging devices helps us make sure people are not conducting surveillance on us or our clients.

Debugging devices are used during a bug sweep to detect hidden cameras or listening devices. Bugs and hidden cameras will emit small radio signals which we can pick up with our debugging devices.

The most common place to use a debugging device is in places where you suspect there may be surveillance equipment, such as in a hotel room that the subject was staying in, or perhaps your home or office if you suspect someone is monitoring your activities. Debugging devices will find these devices that emit radio signals so we can get rid of them immediately.

6. Social Media

That's right private investigators use social media too! Except it's not to post selfies of them and their dog. Investigators leverage social media to gather information on their subjects such as where they might be, the places they go to often, their schedule, people they hang around, and more.

Our private investigators leverage all kinds of tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google Plus, etc., in order to help us get more information on our target and their activities.

Acting within the law

Now that you have some of the knowledge of what tools are used let's talk about the legality of surveillance.

Most of these devices mentioned are illegal if not used within the boundaries of the law. For example, it is illegal to conduct surveillance and gather pictures/videos of someone while they are in their home. It is also illegal to place surveillance devices in someone's home or vehicle without the permission of the owner.

It is important that investigators always conduct surveillance within the law. If we break any laws we could face serious consequences including fines, jail time, and losing our P.I. licenses, which ultimately results in losing the ability to practice as a private investigator. Not only that, but evidence collected illegally will not be valid in the court of law.

With that being said a private investigators job is actually all about following the law and there are plenty of ways of conducting an investigation within legal boundaries while still achieving your end goal. There are also laws in place to protect private investigators so we can conduct our investigations legally.

Hire a private investigator

If you need a private investigator or if you would like to discuss the specifics of your case with us, please contact us at (954) 305-6275 or leave us a message and we'll get back to you.

We provide a free consultation without any obligation on your behalf.

Our private investigators are here to answer any questions you might have about your case. Just call for a free consultation. We're here to help with any of your private investigation needs.
Contact Us