An Uncomfortable Surveillance Story Involving Yoga #162




In an effort to share surveillance stories that might provide you an idea of what a surveillance investigator might do to secure critical video, I thought to share key moments of different surveillances.  These type of stories may be interesting but some made me very uncomfortable.  And that is what I want to share with you today.  An uncomfortable surveillance story involving Yoga.

The short surveillance story I want to share with you involves a Yoga studio.  And before you get all excited, no I did not participate in Yoga, at least not on this occasion.

Anyways, the individual I had followed on this particular surveillance day had gone into a Yoga studio. It was my duty and obligation to secure what video I could of the individual being involved in Yoga. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it being dressed in jeans and a t-shirt.  I had no Yoga mat and my spy camera was a pager camera that connected to my video camera which was concealed in a small blue lunch bag.  Here are some pictures of the spy camera madness.

Spy Camera Bag

 

First Pager Spy Camera

 

The problem with that particular spy camera is I was always looking in the bag to look at the viewfinder because I wanted to make sure it was still recording and there were no issues.  These type of spy cameras run off of batteries which would sometimes die in the middle of videotaping. By checking my bag frequently it could sometimes draw attention to me. But I will get to that in a second.

Since there was no way I was going to participate in Yoga I spoke with the instructor at the front desk.  I told her that I had never participated in Yoga but was interested in seeing a class to see if it was something I would be interested in.  The instructor agreed and told me to sit against the wall. I entered the very large Yoga studio and sat against the wall.  There was no seating for anyone in the room and the area around me was covered with other people’s belongings that were participating in Yoga. There may have been approximately 20 individuals participating in the class.

During my time in the Yoga studio, I was able to video the individual participating in Yoga.  I kept checking the camera in my bag to make sure everything was still operating correctly (to make sure the battery wasn’t dead, to make sure it was still recording, and to make sure the camera was pointing in the right direction).  

Surveillance Story

 

And then there was this moment when I was checking my bag and the individual I was conducting surveillance on was in a Yoga position where they saw me checking my bag.  The individual then called over the Yoga instructor discreetly and a short conversation between them took place in an inaudible tone (for me).  I had a deep feeling the conversation was about me but I wasn’t sure why.  I could see the instructor look at me while trying not to be obvious.  The instructor’s casual glance was more than obvious to me.  

The Yoga instructor continued providing instructions to the class and then walked passed me out of view and out of the class.  While she walked by me I could see that the instructor was looking at me.

You can only imagine the thoughts that were going through my head in those moments and my heart was racing.  Was I compromised?  Were they going to call the police?  Was I going to be confronted? I didn’t know for sure what was about to happen.  

Moments later the instructor returned to the class and asked if I could move to a different location in the classroom.  

Private Investigator Surveillance Story

I told her it was no problem but I was going to be leaving anyway.  The individual I was there to videotape also left the class area while I was speaking with the instructor.  This was all very nerve racking as I didn’t know what I did to draw so much attention to myself.  

As I got up and left, the individual I was following walked to where I had been sitting to pick up their belongings.  I concluded that the individual saw me constantly messing with my bag and may have thought I was stealing from the people in the class (or something to that effect). It didn’t help that I sat right next to the belongings of the person I was following.

Though for a moment I thought I had been compromised and felt very vulnerable while in the Yoga class, I was able to finish the surveillance day and the video I secured turned out really well.

So if you’re ever in a situation where you might need to gain access to something, asking to be an observer or getting a tour might help you gain temporary access to that location.  I will share another story of this nature in a future article.

Have you ever been in a vulnerable and uncomfortable situation like this?  How did it turn out?  Let me know in the comments section.

Andrew



P.S.  I tend to hold onto everything (My wife hates it).  But this is my original spy camera used in this surveillance story. It is actually my first spy camera.  I would still use it if people still used pagers.  I did talk about this camera in an old video.

2 comments

  1. Another great article Andrew. These posts and stories that us veterans of the game can relate to really pass the time on a slow surveillance day. The pager cams and sewing a pin hole cam into a “man purse”, and then powering the cameras by a battery the size of a small block of cheese really make me appreciate how technology continues to advance and make our job easier.

    As with you, I kept checking the camera in my man purse covert to ensure the battery hadn’t died (or when it was dying the screen would slowly but surely show the image fading away into a bright mass of pixels), was pointed at the subject and still had the red dot on the screen confirming the image was in fact recording. For those who don’t know, the cameras in those days had a “Record/Edit” mode and depending on the type of camera, the mode switch or touch screen could easily be bumped and result in the recording stopped. That habit was formed after only a couple times of suffering the heartbreak of realizing that I missed those bench presses because I didn’t know the camera quit recording.

    One day I had a subject eating in a cafeteria, waiting for an appointment. It was a small hospital style one with tables clumped together. My only option to obtain video was to sit at the next table, at my subjects 2230hrs position, facing her. Now, I had a newspaper and a bottle of Pepsi to blend in and keep my head down, but my man purse had the camera on the side of the bag so it had to be sitting on the table top, with the side pointed directly at my subject. I’m not sure how many times it took of me looking into the bag and/or turning the bag ever so slightly to ensure my subject was centre frame, but she eventually figured out what was up. Credit to her, she never let me know.

    I didn’t know that she knew I was video taping her until I had my footage up on the big screen at home, typing my report. And there she was, looking at me and getting her timing right where I was nose deep in my newspaper, so undetected by me she could smile and wave at my camera numerous times. It was quite a shock to me when I saw this but was amused that she took it in stride. She even came up and asked me the time. I can only assume it wasn’t her first rodeo and she knew that if you’re going to make a claim that drags on and on, surveillance will happen eventually. That said, I learned from my mistake and kept the bag checking to a minimum after that.

    As for Yoga, I’ve been there and done that with the old 808 keychain camera, awkward it was. But maybe a story for another day. Looking forward to your next article Andrew.

    • LOL that is quite a story Doug. A classic story that should shared with all investigators every chance you get (in my opinion). I would have loved to see that video.

      And of course, I love that you can relate to my struggles, especially back in the day.

      Thanks for commenting, I really appreciate it!

      Andrew

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