Following on foot:
When following someone the biggest key to remember is to stay a good distance away but not so far away that you can not keep an eye on them anymore. If you are following by foot a key tip to remember is to have a hat and another shirt (t-shirt is perfect) under your current one or hidden away tucked in the rear waistline of your pants under your shirt. This is in case you are spotted and your person you are trailing is aware they are being followed. You can shed or add to your appearance to throw them off. Eye contact is usually a tell they are on to you. A normal person will take a quick note of your face and shirt as its the easiest to identify right away. – So if that is the case and your person is aware they are being tailed, they will do what they can to evade you and look for what they first noticed.
I have personally been spotted before and thankfully I had a hat in my back pocket that I threw on, and the spare shirt as well. I literally walked right past the person I was trailing, ensuring not to make eye contact with them. Instead, I looked ahead then my phone as if in a hurry later gaining the information I needed.
If you are taking pictures or video, take that in a manner that doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb. Try to blend in with the surrounding environment and discreetly get the footage you are in need of. If the person you are trailing goes into a store, follow them, but not too closely. Pretend to be looking around. if the store is small enough (like in a mall) you can hang out by the front window, and be “talking” on your phone to someone while recording video of them. (make sure your ringer is off if you use this method.)
If you are spotted, most times your lead will keep looking back and or circle around to see if you indeed are following them. If they do this keep moving on and let them feel they are just being paranoid. You can always change your extra clothing, later on, to catch what you need with them.
Following in a vehicle:
Car trailing is a little more interesting as anything can change at a moments notice, and you should be ready for some safe evasive and maneuverable driving. Unlike being on foot, when you are in a vehicle you want to be at least half a block away and if it is a multiple lane road you could be in the lane next to them instead of directly behind them if there is plenty of traffic to shadow you helping you blend in. If tailing in an opposite lane and you need to be close due to construction, or turns and obstacles, being in the driver’s blind spot is best (left lane)
A common mistake new investigators recreate is tailgating their lead. Do not tailgate the subject as this can not only cause an avoidable accident, but you are also more noticeable to them. Keep the distance as this will not only shield you from immediate attention but gives you some reaction time should your lead turn unexpectedly. If you provide yourself with enough distance, you can safely maneuver to make that turn as well.
If your lead turns into a parking lot, do not turn into it right away instead try to turn into a parking lot across the way from them on the other side of the street if one is available. this will give you the distance needed to capture footage and still get what you need. However, if the parking lot is big enough (Mall, large grocery stores, theaters) then go in and find a parking spot where you can observe your lead from. Always wait for them to park before you set yourself into your position. – Once in your own position make sure you can back out quickly to continue tailing if needed.
When you are following your lead time the lights and regulate (old and new). What this means is if the light just turned green (new) you can most likely make it. if it’s been green a while (old) and you have the distance on your lead, don’t speed up instead focus on the right lane to take a right if need so you can pop a U-turafterwards should the light go red. this will allow you to hop back onto the road and continue your tail.
Should your lead park on the side of the road, don’t just pull over yourself behind them as that will give you away. instead go forward a ways and park. You can turn around as well once down the road and out of sight. this will allow you to face them and move in enough to capture what yo need.
Always obey the law and traffic signals as no case is worth risking your or another person’s life from mistakes made while driving. If recording from your dash ensure your camera is mounted and not held by you if you are driving.