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Overt or covert?

Summertime in the northern hemisphere means movie time in the USA. This is the season when new blockbusters are released. Some of these releases – especially the crime dramas – include scenes of undercover operatives conducting covert operations, or “espionage,” on the internOvert or covert picture 1 7-11-14ational stage, deploying undercover surveillance to capture stills and video of their target’s criminal behavior. But are they realistic?

Typically, these surveillances are predictably portrayed. The lead actor and his/her partner set up in a dark sedan parked directly across the street from the villain’s hide-out. Typically, this occurs at dusk. At night, we see coffee cups and a newspaper or two on the vehicle’s dashboard. In the next scene, it is dawn, and the heroes sit up, sleepily stretch and yawn. Three seconds later, it happens.

The target exits the building and proceeds down the sidewalk, carrying something of apparent evidentiary importance (e.g., a package or a briefcase) and glancing furtively over each shoulder…twice. A super sleuth quickly lowers the front passenger window, extends the camera’s long distance lens, then the camera body, and lastly, his entire head. He quickly focuses the device — we see the lens turning clockwise, then counterclockwise. Then, he commences firing away — we hear the rapid, emphatic (and interminable) click, click, click, click. A nod to the driver signifies to the audience that the evidence has been secured. The critical scene concludes with the driver squealing the undercover vehicle’s tires as she abruptly pulls away from the curb and into a U-turn, adroitly avoids a pedestrian, and accelerates to pursue the oblivious (but otherwise brilliant) fleet-footed fugitive.

The scene is so commonplace that we hardly question its realism. But shouldn’t we? Is this truly how successful undercover agents secure evidence, determine the facts and bring criminals to justice? No.

To counter this stereotype, we considered showing you stills of our agents conducting actual undercover surveillance. However, that would be foolish.

Instead, check out SID’s own blockbuster, Workers’ Comp Fraud: Raising Awareness, which highlights examples of surveillance video captured by our agents using their covert knowledge, skills and Overt or covert picture 3 7-11-14experience.Overt or covert picture 2 7-11-14

Successful undercover surveillance agents are not seen, heard or even sensed. That’s why they are effective. Their surveillance is covert.

Covert as in these images (see right).

BWC SID uses a variety of effective tools and techniques in our investigations, including undercover operations. In fact, a picture really does say a thousand words.




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