One of the most essential duties of a Private Investigator is conducting surveillance. When conducting surveillance, Private Investigators want to gather as much information as they can about the subject they are observing. Surveillance techniques include following subjects, watching them from afar, and staking out their place of residence to record any suspicious activity or behavior patterns. Of all the equipment a Private Investigator needs to gather information during a surveillance session, a good surveillance vehicle may be one of the most beneficial tools.
What is a Surveillance Vehicle?
A surveillance vehicle is one that Private Investigators use when gathering information about a person or subject that they’ve been tasked with investigating. While there are many good options to think about when choosing a surveillance vehicle, some choices are clearly better than others. Knowing what to look for can make all the difference.
Learn more: What Can A Private Investigator Do (and Not Do)
What to Look for When Choosing a Vehicle for Surveillance
Not every car is an appropriate choice for a surveillance vehicle. There are several factors that you should consider when choosing a vehicle:
Make and Model
It is critical to choose a vehicle with a common make and model for surveillance purposes. The less distinctive or eye-catching they are, the better. If you are conducting a stakeout or following a subject, you don’t want to be easily spotted because you’re driving a standout vehicle like an exotic or high-end luxury car.
Neutral colors are the way to go for a low-key surveillance vehicle. Blending in is hugely important, so choosing a vehicle with a common, neutral color such as silver, white, gold/tan, gray, or black is ideal. You don’t want to draw attention to yourself or your vehicle by picking a flashy, attention-grabbing color.
The vehicle size will, of course, depend on the make and model you ultimately choose. This decision will likely come down to your personal preference and comfort. However, size is still an important factor to keep in mind. An unusually large vehicle is likely to stand out among standard vehicles. At the same time, a very small vehicle can be uncomfortable if you’re sitting for hours at a time, and it can be difficult to see over other vehicles whenever you’re following a subject.
5 of the Best Surveillance Cars for Private Investigators
Now that you know a few of the key factors to look for, let’s dive into five of the best surveillance cars preferred by Private Investigators around the country.
1. Toyota Corolla
The Toyota Corolla is a popular car that is very maneuverable and blends easily into any town or neighborhood. They are unlikely to draw any unwanted attention, and they’ve earned a reputation for being reliable, long-lasting cars. The Corolla may not be the best option if you’re a taller person, as it is a smaller, compact car. Because of its size, it may offer limited visibility over and around other cars. Overall though, it is a good choice.
2. Ford Escape
The Ford Escape is an ordinary mid-size SUV with good mobility and is generally rated as a relatively comfortable car. Although it’s not quite as maneuverable as the Corolla, it is fairly powerful, handles well in various weather conditions, and has a better range of visibility than a compact car.
3. Honda Odyssey
The Honda Odyssey is an excellent surveillance vehicle that checks off several boxes for what you want in a covert, comfortable car. It’s extremely common, refreshingly roomy, surprisingly mobile considering its size. It also provides good visibility since the seats sit high off the ground.
4. Hyundai Sonata
Roomy, yet maneuverable, the Hyundai Sonata is an excellent choice for Private Investigators who prefer a sedan. It receives good ratings, handles well in different weather conditions, and again, is a common vehicle that doesn’t stand out in traffic. One downside, however, is the fact that it doesn’t provide the same level of visibility as a minivan, SUV, or truck.
5. Toyota Tacoma
Although a truck may not be the first thing to come to mind for a surveillance vehicle, it is an option worth considering. The Toyota Tacoma is a common model of pickup truck, especially in rural areas, and it is widely considered to be quite reliable. It is not as easy to maneuver as the other vehicles listed, but it provides some of the best visibility and is a very comfortable car.
Surveillance is integral to any good Private Investigator’s job, and having the right equipment is crucial to collecting helpful information. One of the best pieces of equipment a PI can have is the right vehicle. By choosing one that is discrete, reliable, and comfortable, Private Investigators can lay low and get the information their clients need.
Interested in enhancing your surveillance skills? Check out our Surveillance Basics for Investigators course and sign up today to bolster your surveillance knowledge!
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