August 23, 2004

Curious George When undercover cops or FBI agents are on a stakeout, do they really sit in a telephone company or cable TV van outside the house for days on end like they do in the movies?
  • IANAC but I suspect that in the case of static surveillance these days technology is the main observer: cameras, highly sensitive directional microphones, etc. that can be hidden and remain undetected for long periods of time. That way coffee and doughnuts can be enjoyed in the comfort of a local hotel/office.
  • Flowers By Irene
  • I'm not sure about teleco or cable vans but I have seen “them” using Budweiser vans in the western United States. There also is a pretty strong, historic connection between Coca Cola and the CIA but only in countries other than the United States. I can also tell you that anytime a read an account of an FBI stakeout in a reputable paper, the FBI is noted as using unmarked Ford Crown Victorias or Chevy Caprices. They just sit out in front of the property they are staking out. It would be a safe bet that they have a different method when they want a lower profile but I have never ran across an account of it. There probably is a reason that I haven’t. Shhhhh… we’re from the government and here to help you, or would you like a Coke with your capitalism?
  • Cool question -- I wondered too but never thought to ask.
  • Sooooz: Just leave your house, go straight to their car, say 'Hi' to the agents, and stick a banana on their exhaust... their car's, I mean. Keep us posted. Unless you're sent to Camp Whatever. Look out for jailers with digital cameras, there.
  • "I am not going to fall for the banana in the tailpipe trick again!"
  • Also fun...spotting the little spiral wire that comes up outta Mr.Spooky's collar and goes up to his earpiece. I've followed a guy like this around - since they're following somebody else, they don't notice you. I finally saw his handler's car pull up, they had a quick chat, and buddy settled into staking out a chunk of sidewalk in front of a corner Starbuck's - in fact, he may have been watching the other Starbuck's on the opposite corner. Yup. The infamous duelling corner Starbuck's (Starbucki?) on Robson Street in Vancouver.
  • This isn't just an idle question, is it?
  • Paging coppermac, your presence is requested in 4190. Paging coppermac....
  • Ah crap, Sooooz, does this mean you won't be available for my movie?
  • I dunno about law enforcement surveillance, but I did some work for a corporate law firm that involved me sitting in a Sentra in an urban bedroom neighorhood for 3 days and taking notes on comings and goings at a shady Russian guy's house.
  • Nah, we just monitor people's activities on community weblogs these days.
  • I've seen undercover stuff happening a few times - usually because I notice somebody acting suspiciously. Then you notice a wire, or that a guy up a street is giving hand signals to a guy hunkered down in a car with a computer monitor and a shitload of electronics,and it's a strange moment when it clicks - 'Wait a minute...these are the good sneaky dudes...ok, carry on' But of course, then you're just dying of curiousity, and want to stick around - then again, you know that maybe it isn't the safest place to be, and also, at a stationary scene, that you could draw attention to the situation and screw something up. Ridiculously curious georges like me are, I'm sure, a bane to cops everywhere.
  • No reason for me asking, BTW. I was just curious.