Today’s 21st Century James Bond – Private Investigator Tools of the Trade

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To be a successful Private Investigator, you will need to have equipment or gadgets to assist you in your day to day operations. With all the new advances in technology these devices have become critical in the success of today’s investigators.

The primary duty and role of a Private Investigator or a detective a requires them to perform surveillance, discreet interviews, audio recording and much more. From time to time, investigators are asked to do counter surveillance also.

For some of you who wish to embark on doing it yourself, here are some of the most vital and necessary devices of a Private Investigator:

1. GPS Tracking Devices

Although Global Positioning System or GPS has been around for quite some time now, it is in this modern era that it has become quite popular. You’ll see this on your mobile phones and tablets, and most cars have it as well. People have widely used GPS for day to day tasks such as getting directions, however, for professionals such as Private Investigators, they use GPS embedded in a tracker to locate vehicles and people, track them down and possibly save lives.

Private Investigators are hired to gather information or evidence that is essential to their clients. It is not an easy job. Surveillance alone can take up so much time, and researching can be just as exhausting. This is where GPS tracking technology makes things easier. If the detective’s work includes observing private driving activity, the detective does not have to follow the target around, all he or she needs to do is to plant a GPS car tracker on the vehicle and review the data where the target has been the whole day. Every state has different GPS tracking laws, ensure you familiarize yourself before placing one on any vehicle except your own.

Private Investigators can either use a passive GPS tracker wherein the detective removes the planted GPS vehicle tracker from the vehicle and downloads the driving history to a computer, or active GPS tracker where the detective would watch real time on an app or computer. The most popular devices is the magnetic gps tracker which can be hidden in a trunk or under the car of the subject.

Gone are the days where detectives have to sit for countless of hours to gather information on how long the target stayed in a specific location, or follow the target as they drive to random places in town. Indeed, GPS technology has made it easier and a lot safer for Private Investigators to do their job.

2. Computer Forensics

People spend so much time on their cellphones and computers from checking their emails and text messages to continually being updated on their social media sites. This might be normal for you and me but is very helpful for Private Investigators for they might find vital electronic evidence with the use of computer forensics. Some of this electronic evidence are emails, and text messages and investigators who are trained in computer forensics can easily retrieve deleted documents, emails as well as text messages and retrieve the history of websites visited. Investigators can also recover evidence from the following:

Digital Cams

Web servers

Email servers

Internet sites, most especially social media sites like Instagram or Facebook

Zip drives

Hard drives

Cellphones, tablets or pads

With computer forensics, investigators can check internet usage including the time/s and date/s it was accessed, visited websites as well as the files that were downloaded on these sites. Keystroke loggers are probably the most common software Private Investigators will use in investigations. This tool can be installed on your device and everything you type or every web page you visit can be sent to an email for review to include screenshots of what the subjects computer was showing at random times.

3. Camera and Video Equipment

There are many types of camera and video equipment. Cameras may be hidden or covert. It can be an IR cam, a WIFI cam, pinhole cam, security cams or a wireless one.

Hidden video cams are considered the centerpiece of private investigation equipment. They come in different varieties and are used for general and/or specific surveillance operations. Private Investigators use this to document a location or record his target’s activities.

For insurance investigations and worker’s compensation, detectives use video cams to catch the worker on the act if they are lying about a personal injury.  For investigations involving marital infidelity, video cams are often used to record evidence that the spouse or partner is indeed cheating.

Security officers, use this technology to set-up the security of their client’s premises. They usually use a security camera to be able to see everything with the footage recorded for the purpose of risk management.

Here are some best hidden video cam surveillance for Private Investigators:

1. Spy glasses

2. Camera Pens

3. Spy Watches

4. Keychain Camera

5. Pinhole Cams (Button Cam)

4. Recording Devices

Recording devices include both audio and video recorders. Under this category, we have WIFI voice/audio recorder, digital video recorders, and phone recorders.

In line with their work, it is essential for Private Investigators to have discreet recording devices. Although capturing a target on photo is already evidence, most often than not, it is not enough to prove a claim without an audio recording. Devices can be embedded, hidden, and in some instances investigators can use bionic ears to amplify sounds from far away.

5. Detection Devices

It might seem surreal but competitor spy is real, and it happens. Corporate espionage is a serious matter, and if not caught, it will cost you your trade secrets and hundreds and millions of dollars if you own a business. So how do they obtain your secrets? The list of bug devices is quite long, but with the help of an investigator, they can provide Technical Surveillance Countermeasures (TSCM) or “bug detection” as it is popularly known.

TSCM services include a thorough physical sweep of the site imploring an eavesdropping detection equipment to help locate bug devices such as:

– Bugs and taps

– Transmitters

– Hidden microphone

– Covert cams which operate by IR, frequency hopping, carrier current, burst, spread-spectrum and other transmission methods.

– Audio recorders

– GPS devices


Regardless of what gadgets or equipment a Private Investigator uses, he or she must see to it that they abide by the laws governed by the state and operate within their license. We have seen plenty of detectives catch cases such as misdemeanor or even felony stalking charges because they were not operating within the law. For more information on private detective equipment, visit a spy shop online to see what kind of cool gear you can buy.


At HighDefGeek we love to blog about the latest trends in Technology and Business News from around the world. We are a small team of geeks who love to discover and review the latest gadgets and share our thoughts directly to you as well as keeping on top of stocks and shares and giving our advice on the next big thing.

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