“Investigator maintained visual contact of the subject.”
I became a private investigator in the 80s. When I started out, I had a pair of binoculars and a 35mm Pentax SLR with a zoom lens. I sat in the back of my surveillance vehicle with no connection to the outside world. No cellphone. No Internet. There was nothing to do except watch, listen to the radio, and think.
I thought about what would happen if someone needed to reach me. I was a single mother with two young sons. I thought about the person I was investigating. Were they really doing whatever it was someone else was willing to pay a large sum of money to catch them doing? Were they exaggerating or faking an injury from a car accident, cheating on their spouse, or skipping work while they had been on a bender? What if they truly were criminals who had stolen product from a transport truck?
Every morning, while most people were still sleeping, I left my children with the babysitter and drove to a different part of the city, a suburb, or out of town. From outside my subject’s houses, I watched as lights came on and people got ready to start their day. I made it through days so hot you wouldn’t leave a dog in your car, and so cold that frost formed on the windows as I shivered in my down parka. If a subject lived in an apartment building, I got someone to let me in and hung out in the stairwell or hallway. I usually knew if the subject had a car because I had access to vehicle registration information.