There was a time not too long ago when private investigators relied on little more than a pair of binoculars and a pad and pen in order to carry out the jobs they were assigned. Technology didn’t have much to do with PI work aside from making phone calls or using a microfiche machine to conduct research. Times have changed quite a bit, however, and the field of private investigations relies on technology just as much as any other profession.
But there is one element of technology that is being used by investigators more and more that comes as somewhat of a surprise to most people: The use of remote controlled drones.
Drones have earned something of a bad reputation over the last several years because of their use in the theater of war. But many private investigators have found that these infamous spy tools can be very helpful in assisting them in carrying out their tasks.
PIs have begun using drones to surveil people who are suspected of cheating on their spouses, putting their children in danger, or lying about disabilities. They have been instrumental in surveilling individuals suspected of insurance fraud.
One case in upstate New York involved one such individual who had signs on his lawn warning that trespassers would be shot. The PI assigned to the case used a drone called a Phantom 2 Vision quadcopter to fly over the property and captured images of the threatening signs.
While the drones have proven to be very helpful in both carrying out investigative duties as well as getting convictions based on information gathered, there is growing concern of the legality of drones.
The FAA has made it illegal to use them for commercial use but a recent court ruling in favor of commercial drone use has led to an uptick in the number of drones purchased by PIs.