Guns, Gams & Gumshoes

A defense attorney & PI who also happen to be writers

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Bored to Death: A Few Surveillance Tips for Jonathan

Posted by Writing PIs on October 18, 2010

We’re big “Bored to Death” fans, the HBO series about a private eye who’s also a writer.  In last night’s episode, Jonathan (the PI-writer) conducted a foot surveillance, and miraculously he wasn’t caught (which was good for the story, of course).  But how could he have prepared better for this “on foot” surveillance?

While waiting for the subject, don’t look as though you’re waiting. You looked fab in your sports coat and slicked back PI ‘do, but you were obviously standing in the middle of campus, waiting for something.  Why not sit on a bench, pretending to read a book?  After all, the last thing you want is for people (especially the subject!) to notice you, and wonder what–or who–you’re waiting for.

Don’t wear loud prints–they make you stand out. Jonathan, we know you love that sports coat (you mentioned several times it’s what PIs and writers wear), but that print was loud.  You might as well have worn a red blazer.  Pick clothes that don’t stand out–a brown jacket, for example.

Bring extra attire. Always a good idea, especially when you’re on foot and following someone, to bring an extra piece of clothing so you can change your look.  Instead of a loud print sports jacket, how about a reversible jacket?  You can quickly step into a protected area where you’re not seen (inside a store, for example), turn the jacket inside out, and re-emerge on the street with a different look.

What about a hat? Hey, we dig that new PI haircut you’re sporting, but wearing a hat is a good idea.  For example, wearing a simple baseball cap not only disguises the shape of your head and color of your hair, it can be pulled down to cover your eyes.   If the guy you’re following notices you, toss the hat (and maybe put on sunglasses).

Don’t follow so closely. You were within a few feet of the guy you were following (with your buddy within feet behind you, following the two of you!).   Surprising that the guy–who was a drug dealer–didn’t notice the two of you.

What you did right. You entertained us!  Bored to Death isn’t about your being the best PI in the world, it’s about the funny, funky circumstances a regular guy gets into when he decides, without training or licensing, to be a PI.  You make us laugh with your antics, and that’s what the show is about.  We look forward to seeing you–and that loud sports coat–next week.

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