Surveillance , Tailing, Shadowing , Stakeout & Cut Tailing
U'll Find Here All That I Found "Compilled" about Tailling Shadowing Surveillance..Hope U Like It
Undercover, and Task Force Operations
If you are selected for a surveillance, get all the background you can on the subject. If he is not known to you, have him pointed out to let you make your own observation. Learn the subject's habits. Learn his contacts, friends, and places he frequents. Try to get a picture or an accurate, detailed description of the subject and his automobile.
If the subject of your surveillance is a place, locate entrances, exits, and vantage points. You may find more surveillant are needed. And check the character of the neighborhood. You will learn where to watch from and how to dress to blend in with the environment.
Make sure your attire is like that worn by others in the area. That way, if the subject sees you, you will not draw attention. On a military base you might wear an appropriate uniform. But avoid wearing unauthorized rank or insignia. It could bring unwanted attention from an innocent third party.
Concern with your appearance should not stop with clothes. Do not wear rings or other jewelry that denote status or club membership. If you usually wear a distinctive ring, replace it with another to hide the mark on your finger. If your coat or pocket bulges, it may reveal that you are carrying a weapon. And be careful your habits do not reveal that you are a law enforcement officer.
If you use a cover story, make sure it fits your dress, speech, and mannerisms. Be resourceful when your cover story must be used. If confronted by the subject, do not offer information. The subject may try to check the information and, perhaps, expose you.
Technical surveillance devices can be highly useful to you. These devices range from tape recorders and hidden microphones to small devices that can be hidden in a subject's clothing to transmit to a receiver. The devices let you know approximately where the subject is at all times. But be sure to get SJA advice before you use any type of electronic surveillance equipment.
Surveillants face two risks that can destroy weeks or months of preparation. One is the risk of being discovered. The other is the risk of losing the subject at a critical time. Even the most experienced investigator can be "burned" or lose a subject. However, certain precautions can help make your surveillance a success.
You should avoid direct eye contact with the subject. This will keep the subject from recalling your face should eye-to-eye contact be needed later. Sometimes looking away from the subject can make him suspicious. When that happens, focus on a point beyond the subject. This gives the impression of eye contact without actually having it.
Sudden or unnatural movements can call attention to you. Many times a subject will test to see if he is being observed. He may quickly change his course or enter a public vehicle or building. You must react quickly, but naturally, to these movements. It may be better to lose sight of a subject for a moment than to arouse his suspicion that he is being followed.
Hotels, theaters, restaurants, elevators, and public transportation can pose special problems for you. Carry enough money (and change) to pay for bus or cab fare, meals, or phone calls. You may have to move close to a subject when he or she enters a hotel or a theater. Enter restaurants behind a subject. Sit where you can see the subject easily. Order a meal which will be ready quickly, or the subject may leave before you are served. Be sure your meal can be eaten easily and hastily.
If a subject uses an elevator, do not press a floor button. Or choose the one for the top floor. That way you can exit behind the subject. If a subject enters a railroad station or bus depot ticket line, try to get close enough to learn his destination. Perhaps you can overhear his conversation with a clerk.
If a subject throws anything away, try to retrieve it. Obtain second sheets from pads the subject has used. But do not pick up an item if doing so could expose you.
If he enters a telephone booth, enter the next booth. Listen to his conversation. The subject may be pretending to call just to see if someone is following. If you enter a booth next to the subject, do not pretend to make a call. Deposit the required coins and dial a number. Then simulate your conversation.
You will have a tendency to believe you have been burned if the subject glances your way several times. You must overcome this. Normally, someone who thinks he is being observed will show his belief by taking actions to harass or lose you.
There are many surveillance techniques. One technique of loose surveillance that has been shown to be quite useful, when you have time and the subject uses a set routine, is progressive surveillance. The subject is watched in one phase of his daily routine or for some length of time on one day. The cutoff point is recorded. The next day the surveillance is picked up at the previous day's cutoff. This process is repeated until the subject's actions have been thoroughly covered and noted. As you gain experience, you will use this and other techniques, and learn how to adapt, combine, and apply them.
The type of surveillance, the degree of risk, and the number of persons assigned to a job determine what technique to use. A one-man surveillance carries danger to the surveillant. The subject, his convoy, decoy, or associates may try to neutralize or physically eliminate the surveillant. It is always wise to have a second person ready to protect and to aid the main surveillant. Certain basic techniques can be used on foot and, with modification, in vehicles. These one-, two-, and three-man techniques allow surveillant to switch from foot surveillance to vehicle surveillance and vice versa. No one on foot walks everywhere. No one with a vehicle rides to every destination. The two types of surveillance must often be combined.
If a one-man foot surveillance must be used, be cautious when you are on the same side of the street as the subject. Stay to the rear and vary your distance from the subject. Set your distance according to physical conditions like size of crowds and number of exits.
If the subject turns a corner, continue across the street, keeping the subject in view. Then, operating from across the street, you can fall in behind or move to the front or side of the subject. Decide which position will give you the best view. When the subject turns a corner, you may want to be abreast of him to see if he makes a contact or enters a building.
For a two-man foot surveillance, use the "AB" technique. The person right behind the subject has the A position. The other surveillant has the B position. When using the AB technique, A follows the subject and B follows A. B may be on the same side of the street as A. Or he may be on the opposite side of the street. [ See Here ]
When both A and B are on the same side of the street, and the subject turns a corner to the right, A continues across the street. Then he signals B what action to take. The subject's actions may require B to take the A position, and A to take the B position. Signals between A and B should attract as little attention as possible.
When B is across the street and the subject turns the corner to the right--away from B--B crosses and takes the A position. This step should be prearranged so no signals will be needed. If the subject turns the corner to the left and crosses toward B, B drops back to avoid contact. B then waits for a signal from A before making the next move.
For a three-man foot surveillance, the "ABC" technique offers ease. And it is consistent with reasonable manpower resources. Use this technique for close foot surveillance unless you lack the manpower. The main advantage of the ABC technique is that it lets you cover the subject from two sides. As in the AB technique, A follows the subject and B follows A. C normally stays across the street and just to the rear of the subject. [ See Here ]
The ABC technique allows several choices when the subject turns the corner. Assume A and B are behind the subject and C is across the street when the subject turns the corner away from C. A could keep going straight and B would take the A position. C would move across to the B position. A would stay across the street, moving as C had done before.
Another approach would be for C to move into the A position. A would go across and take up the C position, while B keeps his own. What if the subject turns left and crosses the street toward C? C drops back and A continues in the original direction and becomes C. Then B moves into the A position, and C becomes B.
The techniques used for foot surveillance are also used for a vehicle surveillance. But applying these techniques to a vehicle surveillance must be done with care. Traffic congestion and traffic laws make actions more difficult. They also increase the risk of discovery. Two or more vehicle surveillant, like two or more foot surveillant, raise the likelihood of success. When possible, have two people in each vehicle. Teams within vehicles increase coverage and allow flexibility.
For all vehicle surveillances, you must familiarize yourself with the locale where you will operate. If you can, do a map study and make a ground recon. If time does not permit this, carry maps in the car. The person in the passenger's seat can navigate for the driver. Have coins for toll roads and bridges to make sure the surveillance is not hindered.
Choose a vehicle for surveillance duty that is mechanically sound. It should suit the locale where it will be used. It should have a radio, especially if two or more vehicles will be used. The radio allows contact between teams. You can also use it to call for help, if help is needed.
Your vehicle should not have official markings. Use a license plate of the county or state where the surveillance will take place. If possible, change your vehicle if the operation is of long duration. Consider using a rental car. Funds for rental cars may be requested in accordance with AR 195-4.
To decrease the risk of detection by the subject, disconnect the dome light of the car. This will keep the light from showing when the door is open. Operate the radio's microphone as covertly as you can. You can wire one of the headlights and the license plate light to be turned on or off separately from inside the vehicle. This changes the traffic pattern seen by the subject. But if traffic conditions are heavy, do not tamper with the headlights. Be sure to clear violations of traffic laws with local law enforcement agencies. Get the advice of the SJA if you need it.
At night it is often hard to be sure you are following the right vehicle. It helps if the subject's car is distinctive. If you get the chance, put a piece of reflectorized tape on the rear of the subject's car.
For a one-vehicle surveillance, you must remain close enough to the subject to see his actions. But you must be far enough away to escape detection. When the subject's car stops, one team member follows on foot. The subject will not expect to be followed by a person on foot if he suspects a vehicle is being used. Meanwhile the driver can look for a parking place where he can watch the suspect's vehicle. When the vehicle is parked, he can sit on the passenger side and appear to be waiting for the driver. This lessens the chance of attracting the subject's attention. He may change to the back seat. Or he may sometimes move the car to another parking place in the same zone of the subject.
If a subject turns a corner, you have two choices. You may keep going straight, cross the intersecting street, and make a U-shaped turn. The subject will not be alarmed by a car turning into the street behind him from a direction opposite to the way he was going before he made his turn. Or you may go straight, cross the intersecting street, and then go around the block. The subject will not be wary of a car coming from the front.
For a two-vehicle surveillance, the technique is similar to the AB foot surveillance. Two cars can tail the subject on the same street. Or one car can be on the same street and the other car travel abreast on a parallel street. The surveillant vehicles can also alternate the A position. This lessens the chance of raising the subject's suspicions.
To do any of these maneuvers, keep radio contact between the surveillant vehicles. The team in the car right behind the subject's vehicle is always the control, giving instructions to the other cars.
There are many different needs for the use of
surveillance. In this article we will discuss the different techniques used
mostly for worker’s compensation, insurance defense or domestic investigation.
Should a need arise for retail surveillance in which apprehension of a
shoplifter or a person suspected of shoplifting some of the techniques to be
discussed can be applied. In the event you have an occasion to conduct retail
surveillance we suggest caution, planning and education as a necessary part of
your planned surveillance procedure. There is a major difference you will
encounter in this retail surveillance as opposed to the three types of
surveillance we will be concentrating on in this manual. The major difference
is personal contact with the subject under surveillance. You must be prepared
for possible physical confrontation in retail surveillance. Although this may
happen occasionally, personal or physical confrontation is a rare occurrence in
worker’s comp, insurance defense or domestic surveillance if the surveillance is
Terms and definitions used in this article:
Target: The person, place or thing under surveillance.
The person conducting surveillance.
Any person the subject meets or confers with.
A person employed by a subject to detect surveillance. Usually done by
following the subject.
A person who attempts to divert the operative’s attention from the subject.
Term indication that the subject has discovered the identity of an operative.
The target is not expected to become mobile.
The target is moving, either walking or in a vehicle.
Surveillance is the systematic observation of person, places, or things to obtain information. Surveillance is generally carried out without the knowledge of those under surveillance and is concerned primarily with people. Simply, surveillance is conducted in hopes that the activity, whatever the purpose of the surveillance, will occur.
Surveillance is conducted in one of two techniques either stationary or mobile. Mobile surveillance is conducted in one of two techniques either on foot or in a vehicle. One or all of these techniques of surveillance may be used on a surveillance to accurately document the target’s movements either by personal observation, photographs or video.
Regardless of the technique of surveillance to be
conducting the objective is the same, to gather and document information for
personal knowledge or courtroom testimony.
The most common technique of surveillance employed by private investigators is a combination of stationary and mobile. Stationary because the subject has not moved or has not made an appearance before mobile surveillance is required. We will discuss the different techniques systematically.
The first order of business is securing the surveillance
job. Selling the job as it were. All the surveillance techniques learned in
this manual will do no good if one does not possess the expertise to sell one’s
self and secure the job. Remember when the potential client calls your office
they may be shopping for confidence more than price. Although a competitive
price is important your demeanor on the phone is what will sell the job. Get
the potential client to discuss their problems their needs and goals of the
surveillance on your initial phone contact so you can build a raptor with the
person before discussing hourly rates. Remember if it is a domestic call, is it
probably one of the most difficult calls that person will have to make to a
stranger. Convince the person that you are not a stranger by your demeanor,
understanding and knowledge of what it takes to get the job done. Once you have
secured the job and your upfront money, then and only then should surveillance
preparation will begin.
Once the job is secured and the upfront money is obtained
then you should prepare a case history investigative form that contains all the
vital information needed to identify the target. An example of a case history
form is furnished with this manual. First and foremost is to obtain an accurate
address and description of the target including any distinguishing marks,
tattoos etc. What vehicle will the target possibly be driving? What are the
target’s social habits? Information in the miscellaneous details section should
include details of why the investigation is required. If domestic, the
information should include why, what and who the spouse suspects. If the
investigation is a Worker’s Compensation case the information should include
details of the accident and the type of injury. The target’s habits should also
be listed. Pertinent telephone number should be included. This information is
obtained from the client. Space should be provided for gathering additional
information thru the investigators traditional channels such as the motor
vehicle bureau, voter registration, directory assistance, etc.
Now that you have all the information needed to start the
surveillance. Equipment needed for the job should be prepared with a
The checklist should include, still camera,
video camera, file, map, flashlight, pad and pencil, toilet facility (applies to
males), window covers, binoculars and two way radios, at least one should be
portable. Hats, sunglasses and a change of clothes are also recommended.
Advice on which vehicle is the perfect surveillance
vehicle is plentiful. There are different opinions for each investigator you may
talk with. Some recommendations that the author has received over the years are,
truck, because white blends in and is unnoticeable or a van that is equipped
with all the latest equipment.
I have a friend that uses a
red Cadillac and does well. The bottom line is that the vehicle
no matter what color, style or type will not be of any use if the target notices
any unusual vehicle in the area. The vehicle used is of little importance if
the investigator uses the techniques and cautions outlined in this manual. If
the vehicle is suspected then the investigator has to change vehicle in order to
continue the surveillance in another location.
PREPARE TO FOLLOW
If the location is in close proximity to the investigative
drive-by a couple of days prior to starting the surveillance is recommended.
not be possible in all surveillance cases. The investigator will have to make on
the spot surveillance decisions as to what is the best location for parking and
blending on most of the jobs. The purpose of the drive-by is to log any
vehicles for identification later and positive identification of the target’s
address and residence at the target’s address. The investigators should log
either by micro recorder or by physical notes any activity seen at the time of
the drive-by. The investigator should make notes on any items that would
indicate leisure activity or work activity along with a description of the house
and its location within the residential block. The investigator should make
notes of the surrounding neighbors and any animals seen in the neighborhood. The
investigator should note all possible surveillance locations including the rear
and sides of the residence and if one vehicle will do the job. The investigator
should make note of all possible avenues that the target might take when leaving
the location. The investigator should check all parallel routes in order to
start the surveillance with knowledge of the immediate area.
BEGINNING THE SURVEILLANCE
The question always arises as to whether or not the
investigator should notify the police when ever conducting surveillance. This
is a question that has a different answer for different circumstances. My
recommendation is that the investigator must do what they feel is necessary to
protect their surveillance location. There is no law that I know of in any
state that requires notification of the police. After all this is America and we
enjoy the same freedoms as any other businessperson does. We have encountered
police departments that state that they have a policy that investigators check
in with them before beginning investigations. This so called policy is not
law. The question the investigator should ask themselves on some surveillance
jobs after assessing the surrounding area is “ how much trouble do I want to
bring upon myself and my surveillance?” The investigator should determine from
the neighborhood if the threat of being exposed by police exist. The decision
to call in and notify the police so they won’t respond to a call from a neighbor
may be a good one and then again it may not.
Golden rule number one is; “
Never take your eyes off of the target.”
My recommendation for the beginning location of any surveillance is to pick the farthest location from the target’s location that will allow the investigator to see movement of any vehicles coming or going. When the surveillance is to be conducted in a residential neighborhood it is a good idea to park with the rising sun or setting sun and in the shade so the vehicle won’t be easy to see. When it is possible, blend into a business parking lot and with other vehicles and place shades over in the windshield to make it appear that the vehicle is empty. Sometimes it becomes necessary to view at the target’s location backwards in order to blend into the neighborhood. Watching in the rear view mirror while the investigators vehicle is pointed in the opposite direction is a bit more difficult because it narrows the field of vision but is just as effective. Humans are creatures of habit. Once the direction of travel of the target is established the investigator should conduct the surveillance in the opposite direction if possible. This will prevent the investigator from having to leave in a hurry to get out of the line of sight of the target and will prevent the investigator from taking their eye off of the target. The investigator should record the license plates on any vehicle that arrives at the residence. Although it may not seem relevant at the time, the plate could be used to locate the target in the event the investigator loses sight of the target. If movement at the location is detected, the investigator should react by starting the video or moving closer to assess what the movement indicates. Either the target is getting ready to leave the location or is getting ready to start activity that might be worthy of video or moving even closer to the target. The investigator must be prepared to drive aggressively while driving defensibly. Driving aggressive may require driving across a yellow light or even a red light, making U-turns where one would normally not make U-turns, cutting though parking lots etc. Mind you that this is not a recommendation but a reality. We never will recommend that an investigator break the law in any way in the pursuit of their duties.
Golden rule number Two; “if the target sees the
investigator three times the investigator is burnt.”
Animals and children
are the biggest worry the investigator has when parked on surveillance. Dogs
will bark, cows and horses will look and sometime walk towards the investigator.
are as bold and will approach the investigator and sometime notify the
neighborhood or the target that someone is parked in the neighborhood with a
From time to time neighbors, kids and sometimes the target
or a member of their family will confront the investigator. The investigator
must have a story ready when the confrontation occurs. Depending on the
location of the investigator from the target, the statement to the confronter
could very well be, when asked what the investigator is doing at the location,
none of your business. However even if this is true it may not be the very best
approach because it may cause the police to be summoned to the location.
Generally, the investigator could say he’s working child custody, car
repossession or even staking out a location for a bond jumper arrest or
something simple such as “I’m
on official business.”
Should the police confront the investigator it is a good idea to tell the truth
as to the reason for being at the location without giving out specifics. The
investigator could withhold this information; but once again it depends on how
much trouble and/or aggravation the investigator wants.
ONE VEHICLE TAILING THE TARGET
When using one investigator one vehicle, tailing a
target’s vehicle in the city and tailing the target’s vehicle in the country
require two different approaches. When tailing in the country, a distance
must be maintained to keep from being burnt. On curves when the target is
out of sight, the investigator must close the distance and then back off to a
safe distance while maintaining eye contact with the vehicle. This will prevent
losing the vehicle should it turn off before the investigator has a chance to
get a visual, whether the vehicle turns or continues straight. When tailing a
target in the city the investigator must keep a closer vigilance on the
moving target’s vehicle because of the possibility of the investigator hitting a
red light and losing the target. Keeping in mind the number one golden
rule, “Never take your eyes off of the target” the investigator should
keep as close to the target’s vehicle as possible in city block stretches
without traffic lights. If traffic lights exist it is recommended that the
investigator tailgate or at the very least do not leave room for any other
vehicle to come between the investigator’s and the target’s vehicle eliminating
the possibility of the investigator hitting the red light while the target moves
across and out of sight. In the event both the investigator and the target
are stopped at a traffic light and a vehicle is between the two. The
investigator should leave room between themselves and the odd vehicle in the
event the odd vehicle stalls or does not move when the light changes. The
investigator will have enough room to go around. The investigator should
be aware as to whether or not the target is dragging the light in order to
check to see if they are being followed. When following a target in the
city the investigator might want to keep the sun visor down blocking full
view of the investigator in the target’s rearview mirror. Since some targets
will be more aware than others, this will keep the investigator from being
identified in the event leaving the vehicle becomes necessary for a walking tail
i.e. in a mall or shopping center.
Paying close attention to the vehicles that visit the target’s residence or any vehicles that leave the target’s residence when the tailing begins may save the investigator from being “burnt” during the tailing surveillance. The two vehicles may meet in traffic and if the investigator has to quickly make a traffic light or quickly drive around a vehicle that is moving slow, the investigator may call attention to their movements if the second vehicle is traveling behind of along side of the target or the investigator. The investigator has to be just as observant of what is happening around them as the investigator might expect the target to be observing. The investigator must be cautious as to what the target might be observing without being paranoid. If the investigator becomes paranoid, then they are sure to lose the target. One reason investigators become paranoid is because people will look at them while they are on surveillance. This is a natural occurrence because it is human nature to look at someone when you drive by. This natural occurrence should not necessarily be of concern unless the person stops at the target’s residence or leaves the target’s residence, drives-by and pays particular attention to the investigator’s vehicle. If the target is suspicious for any reason they may make a series of turns to see if they are being followed or turn down a cul-de-sac. The investigator if familiar with the area might want to wait for a time to allow the target to exit the cul-de-sac depending on the purpose of the surveillance. If the target does not exit in a reasonable amount of time the investigator will be forced to make a drive by into the cul-de-sac to observe where the vehicle is parked or any activity that the target may be engaged in. The investigator should be sure to make notations of vehicles and a description of item in the yard for possible future use. What may not make any sense at the time may turn out to be significant when solving the question as to what the target is doing at the residence.
If a target pulls into a parking space the investigator should pull into a parking space a across the street or a couple of spaces either before or after the target. Park where it will be easy to reenter the flow of traffic whenever the target starts to move again. If there are no parking spaces available, circle the block immediately, do not wait five or ten minutes and decide to find the perfect space. This is when the investigator will likely lose the target. This is the only time it will be recommended that the investigator take his eyes off of the subject. Golden rule number three; “if you want to make something happen, take your eyes off of the target i.e., leave the area for a bathroom break, to grab a quick bite in the drive thru etc.” more often than not the target will leave the location causing the investigator to report what they should try to avoid, I lost the target. Of course, the investigator may not lose the target but I refer you back to Golden Rule # 1. Why take the chance?
Should the target enter a hotel, mall or possibly
leaving the vehicle for the purpose of creating a diversion for any friends that
may see the target and recognize their vehicle. The target may park the
vehicle and meet someone in another location, take the bus or a taxi.
The investigator may choose to continue surveillance on foot depending on the
purpose of the surveillance. Foot surveillance is sometimes referred to as
shadowing. When shadowing the target on a long street with little
foot traffic the investigator should give the target a bigger lead than in a
crowded mall. As when the target is in a vehicle approaching a traffic
light, when the target approaches a corner the investigator should close the
distance in the event the target turns and is out of sight of the investigator
The investigator is at a disadvantage if working alone
because the target may exit their vehicle and walk into a mall only to exit on
the other side and enter a vehicle of another person, a bus or have a taxi
waiting for them. If the surveillance is being conducted with two
investigators, the investigator than takes the foot surveillance should have a
portable radio to report back to the investigator who remained in the vehicle to
take up the mobile surveillance.
There area generally less people to deal with in
residential neighborhoods. However, the investigator can count on the outside
neighbors to pay particular attention to the investigator if he or she is
seen too many times, especially if the investigator is acting out of place and
trying not to be noticed. This is where a change of clothes comes in handy
the investigator can change into a walking outfit and blend in without any
suspicious being raised by the neighbor who is outside watering the lawn. It is
recommended that when shadowing a target walking in a residential
neighborhood the investigator should conduct the shadowing from across the
If the target enters an office building and enters an
elevator, depending on the need to know, the investigator should enter the
elevator with the target as required by Golden Rule # 1. Depending on how the
surveillance has progressed thus far, the investigator should exit on the same
floor as the target and walk in the opposite direction at some point the
investigator can stop and turn as though they have walked in the wrong direction
or have dropped something. This will give the investigator the opportunity
to see which office the target has entered without raising suspicion. If the
office is a doctor’s office the investigator can enter and pretend to sign the
sign in log and take a seat to observe the target. If the surveillance is to
begin on the target when they leave the doctor’s office it is a good idea
to arrive at the doctor’s office prior to the appointment time of the target.
When the target arrives they must sign in and their name will be called when the
nurse is ready for them. This give the investigator a good look for
identification purpose when the appointment is over and the surveillance is to
begin. After identifying which office the target entered then the investigator
can return to the lobby and wait for the target to exit the building.
If the target enters a hotel the investigator must blend in with the guest and attempt to follow the target until the room is established. Once the room number is established the investigator should register and check into a room at the hotel. This will help the investigator justify being on the hotel property should a confrontation with hotel security occur. Once you establish that you are a hotel guest the hotel security will have no grounds to question or bother you. The investigator should attempt to get the room across from the target and make observations through the peephole. Making contact with hotel personnel may not be a good idea unless the investigator has dealt with them on other occasions.
When two investigators are employ on foot surveillance,
one should shadow on the same side of the street and the other one should
shadow on the opposite side. The investigators should change positions on
occasions to keep the target from becoming familiar with either of the
The information contained in this manual has been a
compilation of information gleaned from 20 years of experience, surveillance
articles and fellow investigators that have been willing to share their stories
with me. (Like there is an investigator out there who doesn’t like to share
My hope is that you learn just one fact that you didn’t
know from this article. More importantly, that you remember to use them when
the situation arises.
Good luck and I hope we never meet and I never see you in
the future. (On the job that is!!)
“Your Louisiana Cajun Connection”
a Private Investigator, Revealed!
Surveillance is an advanced investigative technique that takes many hours of practice to master. I do not recommend that you conduct surveillance on a subject unless you are a licensed private investigator. You could get yourself into a lot of trouble by arousing the suspicion of someone who thinks you are in the act of committing a crime. Further, if you are not accomplished at conducting surveillance, there is a strong possibility that your subject will see you, which could cause major damage to your investigation.
My main reason for describing surveillance work is to give you a better idea how professional investigators work. If you should ever need to hire a private investigator to conduct surveillance, this chapter will give you a good idea of what to expect from them. Surveillance work is very demanding and great care is needed to achieve positive results.
My opinion of a good, general definition of Surveillance is: To surreptitiously determine the activities of a subject." This means following a subject without any suspicion, on their part, that you are following them.
Physical surveillance is one of the most common techniques used by investigators to obtain necessary information. Surveillance, or shadowing, involves following a person, both closely enough not to lose them (close tail), and far enough away to avoid detection (loose tail). Effective surveillance requires much practice and a good measure of patience since you may find yourself tailing someone for hours, or even waiting for them just to appear.
A couple of terms in surveillance that you should be aware of are "getting warm" and "being burned." "Warm" means that the subject suspects that you are following them, while "burned" means that the subject knows you are following them and knows who it is. Experts agree that losing a subject is better than "burning" a case since you can usually locate a subject again. But once they know you are following them, your case is finished.
One thing to remember when conducting surveillance is to blend in with the crowd. Don't carry any objects, such as a briefcase, cigar or umbrella (unless it's raining) that could distinguish you from others around you. In addition, it is rarely necessary to wear a disguise. Experts generally warn novices to avoid putting on a fake moustache or beard because, usually, they look fake. Make-up artists make good consultants if it should become necessary to disguise yourself.
If you want to change your appearance, you can do so by putting on or taking off a coat or hat. This is usually effective, but you also might want to carry a change of clothes in your car just in case. Having one or two pairs of glasses can also help.
Investigators often follow their subjects on foot and this surveillance method requires special techniques. The cardinal rule is "never lose sight of your subject." Sometimes, in heavy pedestrian traffic, this is easier said than done. In heavy traffic, follow your subject by about eight to nine feet, much farther if there is little or no other foot traffic. Walking on the opposite side of the street may be a good way to follow someone without risking detection.
If your subject turns around, just act natural; don't panic and don't make any abrupt movements like darting into an alley or quickly hiding behind some object. If possible, simply stop and look in a shop window and use the reflection in the glass to observe your subject. If that won't work, pass by your subject nonchalantly, stop a short distance ahead, look in a window and then take a casual look back toward your subject. But, it is a good idea not to meet their eyes since it will be easier for a subject to notice and remember you if your eyes briefly lock glances.
If your subject enters some public place like a restaurant, train, or bus, you will need to follow them inside. For these situations you will need to carry a sufficient amount of cash to cover your expenses. Credit cards can help in case your subject decides to take a train or plane to another city or state.
"Warm" subjects use a variety of tactics to discover if they are being followed. One way is to reverse their course of direction. Following on the opposite side of the street can help you avoid detection if your subject tries this. Walking around a corner and stopping suddenly is another method subjects use to catch investigators on their trail. If this happens to you, just keep on walking around the corner, then turn back when it's safe.
A subject might intentionally drop a piece of paper on the ground to see if someone picks it up. Other ways subjects spot a tail include slipping into public places like restaurants, theatres, or hotels and exiting immediately through another door. Getting on a subway, public transit, or bus and then jumping off just before the doors close is a common method. If this happens to you, just stay on until the next stop and hope you can find your subject again. Don't attempt to jump off with the subject.
Moving to a deserted area is an easy way for a subject to spot a tail since there is no concealment. In addition, a very suspicious subject may have another person around them acting as a lookout.
Some Surveillance Do's...
- Know as much about your subject as possible.
- Verify subject's address.
- Know the area where the surveillance will begin.
- Be properly equipped.
- Arrive early.
- When seated in a car, attract as little attention as possible.
- Watch subject's location carefully.
- Look ahead and anticipate anything.
- Watch the subject's rear closely. (the car, you fool)
- Keep intervening traffic under control when doing vehicle surveillance.
- Try to know beforehand the general direction that the subject will be heading.
If, for example, your subject takes short trips to the same places at slow speeds everyday, your job will be much easier than if they are a fast and unpredictable driver who never visits the same place twice. If you know that the subject drives like a wild man, then you should consider a two-vehicle surveillance.
The type of vehicle you drive is important, as you do not wish to stand out. Your vehicle should be as similar as possible to other cars in the area. I have found that a later model two or four door sedan, or van, with a standard, non-flashy, neutral paint finish usually blends in nicely. Tan, dark, light blue, and white, are colors that don't call attention to themselves.
If you are working in an upper-class neighborhood, I would advise not using an older model car or rusty van as you would be drawing much attention to yourself. Whenever possible, use a newer model van as your surveillance unit.
Your vehicle should always be in excellent working condition and you should fill your gas tank before starting surveillance. It is very frustrating to have to stop because your gas gauge reads empty. You should have all your fluid levels and belts checked regularly. There is nothing worse than a vehicle that won't run right during a surveillance.
For vehicle surveillance that will last a few days, you might want to try switching units each day to avoid detection. Since you might not have more than one vehicle, you might borrow or rent a car or van from a low cost rental agency. Be aware that even if you are driving a rental car and your subject "makes" you, they could find out who you are through the rental agency. Therefore, you must use the same precautions as you would use driving your own vehicle.
Remember to keep essential equipment in your vehicle at all times. This includes flashlight, maps of the city and state, a camera, tape recorder, binoculars, and a packed overnight bag. Also, a pair of rubber-soled shoes will be of use if you have to leave the car and follow on foot.
Initiating the Surveillance
The way you begin your vehicle surveillance may decide the success or failure of your operation. Real-life surveillance is not like the movies where the surveillance vehicle parks across the street and starts up when the subject comes out. This is far too conspicuous and a deaf, dumb and blind subject probably would notice you.
It is much less risky to park down the block with a good telescope or set of binoculars. The surrounding geography may help you in this regard. Each new surveillance location usually has a perfect spot where the investigator can observe the subject come out to their car, and which also allows the investigator to follow the subject in any direction without concern.
If your subject is on a one way street, you may park just down the street or around the corner with a reasonable expectation that the subject will drive past you when they leave. This allows you to reduce your risk of detection when initiating surveillance.
Surveillance in progress...
While tailing a vehicle, keep at least one or two cars between you and the subject's car. Also, do not remain constantly behind the subject; change lanes often. Try not to appear fully in their rear-view mirror.
The distance between you and your subject will vary according to the traffic conditions and the type of area in which you find yourself. Dense city traffic requires you to stay very close to the subject. In rural areas you may have to keep a distance of hundreds of yards to avoid detection.
Always try to stay in the subject's blind spot whenever possible. This only works, of course, in city traffic and on roads that have more than one lane. The blind spot to the subject's right rear is usually the one allowing the least visibility.
Noticing whether the subject has a companion or is alone is important along with what the companion is doing. If the companion is turning their head around every few seconds, they may be watching for a "tail". Here you would have to be much more cautious.
While it is impossible to change a vehicle's appearance totally, there are some small things that can be done to reduce the sense of familiarity with it. The simple changing of positions by you and your partner(s) in the surveillance vehicle can modify your general appearance. Your partner can crouch down in the seat sometimes and you may even change your posture behind the wheel.
Also, you and your partner(s) could put on and remove caps and sunglasses. Depending on the weather you also can change coats or jackets. These things have a tendency to change the general appearance of the surveillance unit as a whole.
With experience, you develop some preplanned moves that allow you to stay successfully with your subject, even under difficult situations. But sometimes, pure luck and inspiration play their part too.
If, for some reason, the subject stops, parks, or turns a corner before you can do so, don't panic. Drive past the subject, make the first turn you can and continue following from there, or park in the first available spot if you find the subject has parked.
Other strategies and terms you need to know include "leap frog", or "sandwich tailing" and "paralleling." The sandwich tail, or leap frog, is where two investigators participate in the tail; "A" is in front of the subject and "B" is far enough behind the subject that they remain undetected. "A" radios to "B" to tell them when the subject turns or parks.
After a while, or if "A" loses the subject, "B" closes the gap. When "A" is in position behind "B", then "B" passes the subject and takes over "A" 's original position. Of course, "A" then assumes the rear position. When properly carried out, this technique lowers suspicion and may be used for an extended period.
Much more difficult, paralleling is when the investigator tails a subject in a vehicle on a street parallel to the one the subject is driving on. Usually, the investigator will check at each intersection to see if the subject is still following the same course. If the subject isn't there, that means they either stopped on the last block, or turned the corner. The investigator must then discover the subject's exact location as quickly as possible.
When tailing an unsuspecting subject who is driving fast, it is best to follow in the same lane. Never allow too many vehicles to get between you and the subject. This is especially true if the subject is traveling in the fast or left turn lane. Suddenly, the subject may turn onto a side street and, unfortunately, lose you due to heavy oncoming traffic.
Serious problems can arise when approaching traffic signals. Remember, you are not driving a police or emergency vehicle and are liable for any traffic infractions that you may incur. Erratic driving also can arouse the suspicions of your subject. If your subject does not suspect a "tail", it is not uncommon to follow the vehicle almost directly behind. This is especially advantageous in heavy, city traffic.
When approaching traffic lights at an intersection it is helpful to watch the pedestrian cross-walk signals. These let you know how fresh or stale your green light is. If the pedestrian signal shows a white or green light, you know that you have a fresh green light. You don't have to hurry as much to get through the intersection. But, if the pedestrian signal shows solid or blinking red, you have a stale green traffic light that could turn yellow at any moment. Here, you have to get through the intersection, behind or next to your subject, as soon as possible.
In residential areas, it is somewhat easy to maintain a "loose tail" and observe parked cars from a considerable distance with the use of binoculars. But, you must use extreme caution and never let anyone see you using binoculars. This will arouse enough suspicion for the neighbors to call the police.
When observing the subject and their associates, make complete detailed notes at the time or as soon as possible, noting complete descriptions of clothing and physical appearances. If appropriate, photograph what you see whenever possible, as photographic evidence is difficult to repute in a Court of Law. We will be discussing note taking and photography later in the book.
Perhaps you have prior information that your subject will be traveling to a specific location, such as another home, hotel or motel. If this is the case, you may not need to attempt to follow the vehicle. You might proceed ahead of them and locate an appropriate place of hiding before their arrival.
Night surveillance poses some problems, and also some relief from other problems. The lower visibility works both ways. It is harder for the subject to see who is following, but the investigator has more trouble keeping track of the subject's car.
One problem with night vehicle surveillance is that your headlights will be very visible from a long distance. This isn't a problem if there is other traffic because headlights look even more alike than tail lights, but in a rural area they stand out.
One solution is to have your headlights wired so that they can be operated independently from one another. (This may be illegal in some areas.) It is done usually with two toggle switches. When your subject goes around a corner, you simply turn off one of your headlights. If your subject should be paying attention, your vehicle will appear as a completely different one at night.
If the investigation is of considerable importance, then sophisticated equipment may be rented or purchased for the occasion. Such sophisticated equipment might include an electronic tracking device, night vision starlight scope or an expensive high-speed telephoto lens for the camera.
Extended periods of surveillance should be conducted by several different investigators because fatigue can play tricks on one's imagination. Remember to be well equipped and have fresh replacement batteries for the appropriate equipment. The greatest teacher in this type of investigation is experience. The more you attempt something, the more efficient you become.Stakeout Surveillance
The Hollywood or television version of a stakeout is two men in a car parked some 30 feet away from the subject's premises, watching through the windshield. In real life, two men in a car might as well hang out a sign saying "Stake Out In Progress" because they would be that obvious. Usually a nervous neighbor will call the police.
Using a car as a fixed observation post is very amateurish, and is a method of last resort. Standing in a doorway is also conspicuous, although it may become useful when following a subject who goes into a building and will soon be coming back out.
There must be a better way, and there is! A temporary stakeout works much better if you can blend in with other people in the area. One way of doing so is to go into a nearby cafe, store or restaurant. When you do this, the subject would have to pick you out of a crowd to "make" you. This is much more difficult than spotting a lone figure in a doorway.
Behavior is as important as physical surroundings. Your behavior must be appropriate for a given situation. That is why standing in a doorway or sitting in a parked car is so conspicuous. People don't normally stand in doorways unless it's raining or snowing or they're waiting for a bus. People normally park their car, lock it and leave. Anyone who sits in a car for more than a couple of minutes will stand out because it is not a normal thing.
One exception is a male-female team. They don't stand out if they sit in a car together. Anyone who sees them will interpret their behavior as that of friends or lovers, especially if they are talking. At night on a dark street they can avoid seeming out of place by hugging and kissing. Obviously, in the same situation and in most neighborhoods, a team of two men hugging and kissing would attract attention.
Setting up a temporary observation post is a matter of quick improvisation. Often, there are props available nearby. A shoeshine stand or a stand-up lunch counter is often nearby in a city. A telephone booth might be another prop. A gas station is yet another opportunity.
Using a phone booth for a few minutes' cover is more than just picking up the hand set and pretending to talk. It helps to have a notebook open and pretend to be writing. A briefcase is a useful prop for this situation. If the phone booth is occupied, even better. Simply stand next to it as if you are waiting to use the phone. This will enable you to look around and remain normal and less conspicuous.
If no props seem available, you might lift the hood of your car and appear to be working on your engine. A stalled motorist won't usually arouse suspicion, but this improvised maneuver shouldn't last for too long.
Sometimes it's possible to establish a somewhat more permanent position for a stakeout. I mentioned cars being the worst possible choice for a stakeout, but other vehicles can be much better. Any vehicle that does not permit easy observation of the inside will do, when it blends in with the surroundings.
Vans and campers are very common surveillance vehicles and are ideal. If you can borrow or use a van, you will have a tremendous advantage. You might rent a van, but if you do so often, you might be better off buying one.
The ideal set up is a van with lightly tinted windows at the sides and back. Combine this with heavy, dark curtains over each window and an opaque curtain or partition between the front seats and rear compartment. The tinted windows prevent people from easily seeing that curtains are opening and closing. The curtains prevent you from being silhouetted. When there are two windows on opposite sides of the van, people can see you moving between them.
It is critical to remain back from the windows when observing, just as you would in a room. The interior of the van should be darker than the light level outside to make seeing in more difficult. Curtains also serve the purpose of keeping the van darker inside. If the stakeout takes place overnight, it's important to make sure no lights come on when any van door opens, as the slightest light might give you away.
The van windows should be clean, not only for observation, but to enable you to take clear photographs when the opportunity arises. When using camera or binoculars, be sure to remain far enough inside to avoid direct sunlight reflection from the lenses. A ray of sunlight can reflect very brightly if the angle is right, thus giving your presence away.
If you expect your stakeout to last a long time, it is good to prepare in advance. You should plan for food, drink and toilet facilities. If your van isn't camperized, you'll have to improvise. In a pinch, some granola bars and a canteen of water will do for a short while. A milk carton or jar might serve for urination unless you are staked out for more than twenty-four hours. Here, you should have a camper's porta-potti. It is important not to risk blowing the stakeout by leaving your post due to a call of nature.
If you have a camperized van, you can set your stakeout up in style. Presumably, you'll have a refrigerator or icebox, a stove, and even a toilet. This enables you to maintain the observation post for days at a time in comfort.In such a case, your main problems will be that of staying awake and avoiding signs of occupancy. You'll have to be careful about noise and be aware that any moving around inside the vehicle may make it rock. If anyone passes by and notices movement or talking, it could give you away.
Parking could be a problem. First, the vehicle must "fit in" and appear normal in the area. A lavish motor home seems out of place in a poor section of the city. A rusted "hippy van" doesn't fit very well into a middle or upper-class neighborhood. There may be local parking regulations that will impede your operation. Watch out for parking meters and time restricted parking zones.
Parking distance is important. People are less likely to pay attention to vehicles parked a block or two away than within a few yards of them. If the parking place is a logical one, such as a shopping center parking lot, your surveillance vehicle will remain psychologically invisible.
The Fixed Stakeout
The basic prerequisite for a fixed observation post is to know the territory. Knowing the layout of the area is important because it allows you to choose the best possible observation post. Knowing your subject's building and all its exits enables you to cover it best. It may be necessary to set up more than one observation point if you need to cover several sides of a building.
In certain instances you will need to rent a room or an apartment to carry out your surveillance. You'll want to keep your true purpose a secret from the landlord. They may talk to, or even be a friend of your subject.
Another danger is having the landlord think that you are doing something suspicious. Unless you behave fairly naturally, someone might suspect that you are dealing drugs or doing something illegal and bring in police surveillance or even direct questioning.
Most likely you will need to move in some equipment and supplies, even for the smaller stakeouts. Some of these items might be:
· 35 mm. and/or Video Camera
· Binoculars or Telescope
· Misc. Electronic Equipment
While the sight of a person carrying a cooler or cardboard box doesn't ordinarily arouse suspicion, a pair of binoculars might. Remember to transport any optical or other specialized equipment in a box or bag to avoid revealing your true purpose.
Avoiding detection while at the observation post is essential. The first thing you should do upon entering the surveillance area is to draw all the blinds, curtains and drapes almost shut, and turn off any lights that are on. Set up your post so that you can see the target area while back from the window some distance. Never put your face close to the window or draw back the drapes to get a better view. Select your field of view and leave it that way.
You may use a small, weak flashlight at night if you are careful not to shine it out the window. Turning on the room lights in a residential neighborhood may seem normal during the night, but in a commercial area it would be a giveaway.
Rural Observation Posts
Wide open spaces give you more freedom but also expose you to easier observation by your subject or others. When selecting an observation post, you may choose a gully, rock formation or shrubbery. An important point is that you should choose a spot that gives you cover from all angles. Someone might come along, see you before you can hide, and blow your cover.
People living in rural areas usually know their neighbors and immediately spot anyone who doesn't belong. Thick woods usually give good cover. It may be necessary to approach the post at night to reduce the chances of detection by anyone. This may mean that warm clothing is necessary with food and drink.
Finding a place to leave your vehicle can be a serious problem. If there are no campgrounds nearby, it might be necessary to have a friend drive you to a point near your cover and drop you off.
It is most likely going too far to wear camouflage clothing and camouflage colors on your face. If anyone sees you it would immediately arouse suspicion. Much better is dark clothing and the removal of anything shiny, reflective or bright, such as a belt buckle.
Noise carries far on a quiet night, therefore, it is best to leave behind things that rattle or make noise such as coins and other objects. Choice of clothing material is important too, because some fabrics, such as nylon, are noisy when rubbed against brush. Dacron or cotton, and even wool, is much better.
In an extreme situation it may become necessary to dig a foxhole and camouflage it with branches. If this does become necessary, it is best to dig at night and have all loose soil and other evidence of digging covered up or scattered by first light.
Most of the techniques and tactics that I have discussed have carried with them the aura of "deep secrets" over the years. They are only known, for the most part, by police departments, private investigators and government intelligence organizations.
This chapter on surveillance deals mostly with practical techniques used by many private investigators. Most often, the use of expensive equipment is not cost effective and is oversold. I feel that emphasis on tactics, more than hardware, makes one a more skilled investigator in less time.
I have also discussed team tactics. It is much more common to find investigators working alone in a given situation, than as a team. Therefore, if you intend to become a serious investigator who works mostly alone, it is important to practice these techniques repeatedly so as not to develop too much of a habit of depending on others.
POINTLESS ESPIONAGE )
SECTION ONE )
Now, I suggest to you to make your first subject a completely random target. Continue watching only random people until you feel comfortable enough to hide yourself from someone that may know you. The best way to choose a random target is by picking one straight out of a phone book. Therefore if you were caught on your first project, you’d have absolutely no connection to the person you have been watching. I don’t recommend choosing a ‘random’ person that you have seen. I.E. if you see the perfect target, that just happens to be a woman, in the parking lot of a grocery store you may find yourself losing your professionalism to your own voyeuristic tendencies. Simply put, if you are interested in Pointless Espionage you are a Voyeur. And if you build up an attraction for your target, you are now a stalker. Pick a random person to start, case closed.
As you follow your subject you should have either a small notebook and pen that you can conceal on yourself, or a small mini cassette recorder that you can use to log your notes on your subject. Using a cassette recorder is ideal because it gives you hands free note taking and allows you to keep your eyes on your subject at all times. Your notes and your pictures are your evidence, so remember to be as detailed as possible. Including dates, times, locations, license plate numbers, etc.
If you happen to lose your target for an extended period of time, your notes may give you a clue as to their usual whereabouts and habits. Allowing you to pick up the tail.
After you have graduated from your first practice missions you may find it difficult finding the address of your ‘Prime Target’ by going through the proper channels. If you don’t have a point in which you can start tracking your target (i.e. a frequented public place) you may need to use other means. If your target isn’t in the yellow pages, or on an online version, try a detective website (I visited a site that claimed they had pages of unlisted addresses from towns all over the country). If you don’t have any trusted friends in the Police Department or at the Phone Company, and if you’ve got the resources, you may want to try a lost persons search agency. These agencies usually advertise on TV and are on average discreet, fast, and classified.
SECTION TWO )
If you intend to follow someone for an extended period of time inside of your car, remember to top off you gas tank. You can't afford to run out of gas during a mission. I also shouldn’t have to tell you by now how to be discreet. If you’re tailing someone in a car, put some space in between your two cars. If you can, stay behind another car or in another lane. Try to anticipate their turns, this shouldn’t be hard. People, when switching lanes, often hesitate before putting on their turn signals. Don’t look for the signal, look at the tires and the driver. Forgive me for using a sports metaphor, but keep your eyes on the ball. If you want a real challenge follow the person by driving ahead of them. In this way your target will avoid most suspicions that they are being followed. Drive like a normal person; speed up, slow down, tailgate, and pass them. If you don’t they’ll probably think you’re a cop and slow down. At this point you may be noticed if you don’t go around them as everyone else would do.
You should always bring a few different sets of clothes with you when you attempt to shadow someone. At some point you may be following a subject to a beach where without a bathing suit, you'll stand out. The same can be said for a fancy restaurant or club where you won't fit in without a formal style of dress. You must learn to prepare for many different situations.
The most difficult thing to do is sit in a car in the middle of the night and be discreet as you watch someone. If you are parked in a street overnight, relax, you’re probably going to be there for a few hours. Try to minimize your food and liquid intake. You may lose sight of your subject if you are forced to take a bathroom break. At four in the morning it’s hard to pass the time if you’re alone without falling asleep. And anytime you spend in a car in the middle of night, especially in a suburban neighborhood, will attract attention to you and your activities. If you are a woman it may be a lot easier for you. In a suburban area a man sitting behind the steering wheel of a car will definitely attract more attention than a woman sitting in the passenger side. By sitting in the passenger side of a car you are implying that you are waiting for someone to return, and if you're a woman, people will think that you're waiting for your husband to return to the car and pay you far less attention. If you have the means try getting your hands on a van and stay away from tinted windows, they wind up drawing more attention to your car. Ideally you may try getting a room in a neighboring building or hotel that you can surveil from.
Don't go climbing trees and telephone poles to get a better position, there is always an easier way.
You should always have a cover story in the event that you are stopped and questioned by Police or Neighbors.
So if you’ve got you target, your camera, and your car- get started!
And remember this is practice for a larger goal. So if you’ve read this guide and become interested in Pointless Espionage, I ask you to go out, find a target, and build a file.
Are You Being Followed?
When the police follow you on foot, they operate in teams of three or more, all in radio contact and co-ordinated from a station or a car. They can be very hard to spot, because if one of them thinks that you have seen him/her they will drop behind and let another take over. Always when being followed, the way to flush a tail is to do something illogical, such as jump on a bus and then jump off again immediately and see who follows you. Go up an escalator and then come down again. Take a lift up and down. Cross a road twice. Take a route that is more complicated than necessary. There is no reason for anyone else to do any of these things unless they are following you. You could have a friend follow you at a distance over a prearranged route to see if they can see anyone else following. Geddit? To lose a tail, head for very crowded areas such as shopping centres, high streets, department stores, etc. and try and slip in and out of crowds and exits.
In a car the same thing applies. Car tails are often done in a "box", whereby three or four cars will follow ahead, behind and parallel to you. You may not see them but they will always be where you want to go. Going round a roundabout more than once or taking four consecutive left or right turns are classic methods of telling if you are being tailed.
Whether on foot or in a car the ideal situation is to get to somewhere isolated, such as long, empty roads or areas of parkland, so that anyone tailing you will stick out like a sore thumb.
R I V I N G T E C H N I Q U E S
F O R E S C A P E
[ The Best One Ever ***** ]
See These Txt Files On Tailing and Counter-Tailing
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