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  • Writer's pictureChris Anderson

Surveillance in Phoenix, AZ

Updated: Mar 4, 2020

Surveillance is helpful in insurance and infidelity investigations, but how you capture the evidence you need varies depending on if you are in an urban or rural neighborhood.

Surveillance in the Phoenix, AZ area.

Good surveillance requires a plan. Surveillance in a rural area requires different undercover tactics than surveillance in an urban neighborhood like Phoenix. Having a plan allows you to capture the evidence you need without raising suspicion from the subject/claimant. You have to know the exit’s and entrances.

While thinking about surveillance techniques, you want the individual you are watching to act as normal as possible. This is so important regardless of whether it’s a divorce, cheating, or an insurance case. If you suspect your spouse is cheating, you don’t want them to know you hired someone to watch them. You want your spouse to continue acting normally.

Same thing with an insurance investigation. You don’t want the individual you suspect faked an injury to know you are on to him and his bogus claim. A subject changes his behavior once he knows he’s being watched or just doesn’t come out of the residence. That makes surveillance more difficult and more time-consuming raising the cost of the investigation significantly.

Now I’ve conducted surveillance in a wide variety of areas, cities, states and towns. I’ve caught claimant’s working mines in South Dakota, to running errands in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, working a street sweep company in Carson City, CA, 24/7 cases in the hood and boating in Lake Pleasant, AZ. Each area is unique, different and never the same. That is what I love this job.

What are investigations like in Phoenix?

  • You must first learn to pronounce the city name, it is: FEE-NICKS'. There are other names to learn such as Awatukee (Ah-wa-Too-Kee) but that will be included in the advanced course.

  • The morning rush hour is from 5:00 am to 9:00 am. The evening rush hour is from 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Friday's rush hour starts on Thursday morning.

  • The minimum acceptable speed on most freeways is 85 mph. On Loop 101, your speed is expected to at least match the highway number. Anything less is considered 'Wussy'.

  • Forget the traffic rules you learned elsewhere. Phoenix has its own version of traffic rules. For example, cars/trucks with the loudest muffler go first at a four-way stop; the trucks with the biggest tires go second. However, East Valley, SUV-driving, cell phone-talking moms ALWAYS have the right of way.

  • If you actually stop at a yellow light, you will be rear ended, cussed out, and possibly shot.

  • Never honk at anyone. Ever. Seriously. It's another offense that can get you shot.

  • Road construction is permanent and continuous in Phoenix. Detour barrels are moved around for your entertainment pleasure during the middle of the night to make the next day's driving a bit more exciting.

  • Watch carefully for road hazards such as drunks, skunks, dogs, barrels, cones, cows, horses, cats, mattresses, shredded tires, squirrels, rabbits, crows, vultures, javelinas, roadrunners, and the coyotes feeding on any of these items.

  • Maricopa Freeway, Papago Freeway and the 'I-10' are the same road. SR202 is the same road as The Red Mountain FWY. Dunlap and Olive are the same street too. Jefferson becomes Washington, but they are not the same street. SR 101 is also the Pima FWY except west of I-17, which is also The Black Canyon FWY, and The Veterans Memorial HWY. Lastly, Thunderbird Rd. becomes Cactus Rd. but, Cactus Rd. doesn't become Thunderbird Rd. because it dead ends at a mountain.

  • If someone actually has their turn signal on, wave them to the shoulder immediately to let them know it has been 'accidentally activated.

  • If you are in the left lane and only driving 70 in a 55-65 mph zone, you are considered a road hazard and will be 'flipped off' accordingly. If you return the flip, you'll be shot.

  • For summer driving, it is advisable to wear potholders on your hands.

  • If you confuse streets with avenues, you're gonna have a bad time.

That 13th idea is so true. See, Phoenix is laid out on a grid system, which means that the majority of its streets go either east-west or north-south. This means less streets that start you off in one direction while turning gradually and eventually returning to where you started. While many cities have roads that run in a grid downtown, Phoenix has extended its grid to the entire city. That’s right, all of it. You can stay on the same road and drive all the way through town. There are few exceptions to this rule (occasionally a mountain gets in the way), but typically you’ll find that you can follow a road as far as you need to go, even going so far as having Phoenicians swearing by different streets they prefer to travel on when the freeway has traffic. “Oh, you took 43rd? Try 35th next time, it’s way faster!

This makes surveillance a heck of a lot easier, by taking parallel streets to stay incognito, to play catch up simpler, to avoid traffic lights and make mobile surveillance a piece of cake. Most of these streets/avenues don’t have medians unlike Tucson, AZ that has medians galore and medians make U-turns damn near impossible.

In Phoenix, we have to take in attention modes of different transportation. Cars, public transit, Uber, or on foot can be used while tracking a subject. It’s unpredictable how a subject gets to his very last destination. It’s even feasible he will bike.

Urban surveillance and mixing in is much less complicated in the town as compared to the country. Cars line metropolis streets, so it’s common for a vehicle to park on the street for hours. However, finding a parking space with an amazing vantage point may additionally show difficult.

On the plus side, it’s simpler to get out of the automobile and walk the street. It’s commonplace to have a digital camera in an urban setting. To an alert neighbor, the non-public investigator will likely look like a tourist.

We have to expect the unexpected. We should have a good understanding of who we are watching. Public records searches and social media investigations give a us clues into the subject’s habits, patterns, and schedule. This information cuts down on surveillance time.

While rural areas are a totally different animal as urban surveillance is. You see, a rural area usually contains dirt roads, far from the city, with a large parcel of land and the individual’s residence is nowhere near the street. They usually live out here to be away from people, the hustle and bustle of city life and maybe they’re a pro and they won’t think an investigator will watch them. Oh, but we will. This take’s precision to catch them and grab the video for the client. For one, knowing the lay out and the exits and entrances. If we can’t park on the dirt road, how many exits are there so we can watch the route most likely for departure. This works if we’ve seen vehicles on the property and license plates with makes/models of the vehicle to look out for. Don’t forget your binoculars. Are there parallel streets to park on and look through property to see the individual’s property? I personally have magnets to stick on my door with a fake electrical company, to help with noisy neighbors and passersby. Lastly, getting the individual out clean is most important if you do see them depart and knowing the routes via Google Maps helps out tremendously.

Great surveillance techniques take time, skill, flexibility, a keen eye, and attentiveness to the law. We are making choices with little notice and need to do so in a covert way. One wrong move by an unskilled person can break the client’s case. That’s why we need to plan out our surveillance techniques and adapt those techniques to rural or urban settings.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call, 602-820-9144

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