Safety Tips for Retail Surveillance Operations

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In these challenging times, organizations need a safe and effective resource to combat the rise in violent and egregious criminal behavior. Covert mobile surveillance provides organizations the opportunity to gather actionable intelligence and build prosecutable cases on a schedule you control. Of course, when it comes to field operations, your personal safety and your organization’s reputation are paramount.

As a subject matter expert who has learned many hard lessons throughout my career conducting and leading surveillance operations, I would like to share a few of my top safety tips:

  1. Do Your Homework

Your homework begins well before an actual surveillance operation out in the field. Make sure you research the location and any identified suspects thoroughly. Visit the local law enforcement in person. This may help with deconfliction, as well as identify current crime trends and areas of concern.

  1. Site Assessment
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A proper site assessment is a critical component of any surveillance operation. Not only should you survey the area for the best positions to hold sightlines, but study ingress and egress routes as well. Familiarize yourself with the neighborhood, surrounding area, and businesses. Pay special attention to any safety concerns mentioned by local law enforcement or personally observed during your scouting mission (i.e., gang territories or visible narcotics trafficking). Lastly, take note of anything that may hinder your surveillance capabilities, such as nearby major intersections, freeway onramps, one-way streets, and restricted parking areas.

  1. Location Sharing App

A location-sharing app and your communication system are your lifelines out in the field.  This joint communication group should only consist of the investigators involved in the operation who are within proximity and can offer immediate aid or assistance if necessary.  We are all responsible for the safety and well-being of our entire team; this is one small measure that can be incorporated for personal and organizational assurance.

  1. Professional Training and Standardization

As organizations are forced to combine efforts in the field during surveillance operations, it is critical for all investigators to be able to communicate effectively and be on the same page. This means standardized professional training provided by independent, court-qualified subject matter experts in the field of surveillance. This protects your organization by minimizing risk and liability concerns, creating synergy amongst different organizations, and increasing confidence, effectiveness, productivity, and, most importantly, personal safety.

Professional surveillance training, where you can put all these tips and more into practice, is important and helps increase the chances of a safe and successful operation. More importantly, working together as a team will undoubtedly make you safer and more productive in your field operations. To learn more tips on surveillance, available training, and personal safety, please visit

Nancy Amoroso

Nancy Amoroso is a retired Los Angeles Police Detective with 28 years of service specializing in surveillance and undercover operations. She is a recognized, court-qualified subject matter expert in surveillance in law enforcement at the local, state, and federal levels, as well as in the retail industry. She is the co-owner of Vigilāre, LLC, which provides training in covert mobile surveillance to law enforcement and organized retail crime investigators.

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