Using GPS Tracking Devices for Surveillance

A good detective will be quick to put new technology to work. Surveillance is a large part of detective work, especially for PI’s, and GPS technology now makes tracking someone that much easier. First, it’s important to know that GPS tracking isn’t legal everywhere. Become educated on your local laws before proceeding with any form of GPS surveillance as it may result in a legal battle you do not want.

What is GPS?

GPS stands for Global Positioning System and consists of satellites orbiting the earth which out very precise signals. Receivers back on earth communicate these signals and the information transmitted is relayed to you, the user.

Let’s review how you can use this technology to track your subject. Simply put, GPS surveillance is done by attaching a device to the subject’s vehicle. This device tracks and reports the vehicle’s location. There are different systems for how exactly the tracking is reported.

There are three distinct types of tracking devices:

  1. A GPS receiver that records the locations / routes traveled by the vehicle. When ready, this device is then removed and the subject’s travel history can be downloaded and viewed. This type of surveillance does not report times, so is useful for certain instances, such as to prove a route traveled or location visited.
  2. A GPS receiver that uses a technology known as “code division multiple access” (CDMA) to report real time. CDMA reporting is not available everywhere so you’ll have to confirm that the subject is an enabled area. You then have to subscribe to a CDMA service, often for a year at a time. Some devices are “hardwired” and others use long lasting batteries for power. These receivers are typically the size of a pack of playing cards. Once installed, you can view the vehicle as it moves around in real time. Snazzy!
  3. A shorter term solution is the use of a GPS-enabled cellphone. You’ll probably need a subscription service with the phone company and some providers even provide real-time tracking. The phone would be duct taped to the subject’s car. More and more providers even provide this service online making it that much more appealing.

GPS Tracking DeviceInstalling the GPS Tracking Device

Attaching the receiver to the vehicle is a tough dichotomy of ensuring the antenna has a clear view of the sky and not being visible to a casual observer. One potential area for attachment is in or under a plastic bumper that the signal can penetrate. A smart detective will do a test run on a similar vehicle make to check that it both works and stays attached.

Remember, there are legalities associated with GPS driver tracking and it can’t be overstated to know where you stand.

That’s it for now. We hope in the future to bring you some reviews and information on specific GPS tracking devices. In the meantime, do your homework and you’ll find the right one for your needs.

Where to Buy GPS Trackers

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