Woman with a camera conducting surveillance from a car

Why track a car?

Vehicle tracking can solve a number of problems and prevent a wide range of undesirable behaviours. Employers often fit vehicle tracking devices to cars in order to monitor the location and performance of their employees. Parents will do the same to ensure their children drive fully in the knowledge that their performance will be scrutinised. This is often achieved via an integrated car tracker that is connected to the main CPU. This device can provide feedback on a range of information, such as speed, braking speed, fuel economy and location. Covert tracking can be conducted in some scenarios, but it's important to remember that the legality of such activity depends chiefly on the drivers reasonable expectation of privacy.

How to track a vehicle

The most common way to track a vehicle is with a vehicle tracking device, either installed on the outside of the vehicle or integrated inside. Some trackers can be installed inside a vehicle without being integrated, most commonly if the person doing the tracking has access to, but doesn't always drive the target vehicle. Vehicle tracking can also be conducted in person, most typically by an experienced professional who is trained in surveillance and tracking. This sort of surveillance is best deployed when you need to know more than the location and time spent therein. For example, if you want to know where your target is going and with whom or for what purpose, manual surveillance is the only way to do it.

Why hire a Private Investigator?

There's a lot you can do on your own. The availability and relative affordability of spy equipment enable you can solve a lot of issues without splashing out on professional help. However, in some scenarios, it may be best to call on a professional. For example, to insulate yourself from legal action, you may find it more suitable to engage a trained, licensed and experienced private detective in order to carry out research and surveillance work on your behalf.

Is it legal?

Engaging a professional surveillance expert is entirely legal. What they do while conducting surveillance on your behalf is not within your control. So assuming you have briefed them correctly and instructed them to use legal means of surveillance only, you are legally not at risk. Always remember to keep things in writing so you can demonstrate at a later date, if necessary, that you requested surveillance by legal means. Provided the target is not unduly approached or intimidated, discreetly following someone and documenting their movements is entirely legal. If the target has cause to feel alarmed, distressed or harassed, they may be entitled to take legal action against the person or people doing the surveillance.

Legal concerns also arise when vehicles are fitted with tracking devices. It is illegal to track a vehicle without permission from the driver unless it forms part of a legitimate investigation. Members of the public can conduct legitimate investigations. For example, if you have evidence to suggest that a car you own is being used for unethical purposes, you may be entitled to fit a tracking device.

What are the costs?

Private investigator fees vary according to location, experience, and the type of work carried out but typically range between £30-£150 per hour. Hiring an investigator at the weekend increases the price slightly, and unsociable hours can do the same. Rates tend to be higher in London. Remember that it may take numerous sessions or attempts to glean the information you require.