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Flying for private investigators ?

Zackbot

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I have recently approached a private investigator for work, initially it was casual talk but its becoming more serious now.

I have been a licensed rpas pilot for 2 years and been flying for 12 years.
I am not sure what the "consequences" are for flying for a private investigator does anyone have any experience ?

Is it even possible ? Surely this is a big red tape job ?
What exemptions could one possibly get for spying on a possible criminal, following vehicles and people.

Does investigators have a way to be exempt from certain activities because they are doing work catching criminals ? In turn would i be covered under that exemption, what should i ask them to provide me with before or if i accept the jobs ?

I know it is happening but i cant seem to find any info on this work.

I quoted him a normal videography price and he was surprised that it was so cheap, does that mean he knows something i don't ?
 

R Martin

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I have recently approached a private investigator for work, initially it was casual talk but its becoming more serious now.

I have been a licensed rpas pilot for 2 years and been flying for 12 years.
I am not sure what the "consequences" are for flying for a private investigator does anyone have any experience ?

Is it even possible ? Surely this is a big red tape job ?
What exemptions could one possibly get for spying on a possible criminal, following vehicles and people.

Does investigators have a way to be exempt from certain activities because they are doing work catching criminals ? In turn would i be covered under that exemption, what should i ask them to provide me with before or if i accept the jobs ?

I know it is happening but i cant seem to find any info on this work.

I quoted him a normal videography price and he was surprised that it was so cheap, does that mean he knows something i don't ?
That would depend upon your state laws. Here, you would probably not want to do it without a warrant.
 

TreeLineView

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It depends on what you are doing. Videoing a person on Workers Comp working on pulling a motor out of his truck in his back yard.... Very grey are. Many other iffy situations. If subject is not in plain view and in public area, not on private land that may fall into local regulations, you could, but those situations are going to be far an few in my personal opinion. PI work is always working in grey ares. Just make sure you know your laws, regulations and limitations. OH and lots or Liability Insurance. I had my own business for 10 years. Everyone wants to sue you once you have the goods on them.

In the good old days, we just wore pinhole camera ands walked up to folks. Much more effective then sneaking through the woods.
 

MapMaker53

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And drones aren't exactly the quietest bird in the sky. Do you really think someone will never know you are spying on them? You need to be close enough to the person to be able to identify them. I have a feeling this PI has no idea what a drone can do or is allowed to do. Chances are good that anything you capture while spying over private property will be thrown out by the courts anyway. And I agree with others that you are opening yourself up to a heap of legal trouble. I'd pass on it.
 

BigAl07

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I've done work for a PI and it all went to court and the case was WON by my client's client. It was a nasty land dispute concerning cutting of trees etc. The "land owner" would not give permission for anyone to go onto the land in question (trees were illegally harvested citing that they had grown up and impeded his natural view of the valley below) to document the incident. One land owner (we will call him Valley Man) was down low in the valley and the other one (we will call him "Tree Cutter") lives high on the mountain side.

Anyway I was hired to fly from Valley Man's property and up to Tree Cutter's elevation. Once up there I was tasked to fly approximately at his window/view level (still over Valley Man's property). From there we established his view was FAR from compromised and we were able to estimate and document the distance (in elevation) from the lower portion of his windows/view to where the tree tops "used" to be. The trees were huge (120') and the very bottom of his view was over 300' so it was obvious that the "tree cutter" had malicious intent. Apparently my client owned land that the "tree cutter" wanted and he would not sell to him and so the "Feud" was created.

If you're going to be "surveilling " you need to be aware of local laws concerning Privacy vs Data Gathering and most likely (at least hopefully) your PI client will be well versed on those already. Also know that in many instances unless you have a warrant your DATA can not be used in a court. My case was a little different and I was brought in as a Subject Matter Expert. Honestly I wouldn't be surprised if the "Tree Cutter" would have hired a big time attorney the DATA I provided could possibly have been thrown out too.

Anytime you go up in a situation like this it's best to assume you are likely to LOSE the aircraft so don't do this unless you have backup equipment. It would suck to miss jobs because your one and only aircraft was shot out of the sky.
 

LUIS MARTINEZ

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I have recently approached a private investigator for work, initially it was casual talk but its becoming more serious now.

I have been a licensed rpas pilot for 2 years and been flying for 12 years.
I am not sure what the "consequences" are for flying for a private investigator does anyone have any experience ?

Is it even possible ? Surely this is a big red tape job ?
What exemptions could one possibly get for spying on a possible criminal, following vehicles and people.

Does investigators have a way to be exempt from certain activities because they are doing work catching criminals ? In turn would i be covered under that exemption, what should i ask them to provide me with before or if i accept the jobs ?

I know it is happening but i cant seem to find any info on this work.

I quoted him a normal videography price and he was surprised that it was so cheap, does that mean he knows something i don't ?
A PI is a civilian, not a law enforcement officer, an important distinction. A PI's clients are not generally looking for criminals but cheaters and deadbeats. You will not have any exemption from Part 107 nor state/local laws. You have to really understand what you are getting into.
 

rolling56

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I just watched a FAA video on this and anything you do that looks like something a peeping Tom would do it is illegal doing it with a drone
 
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BigAl07

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I just watched a FAA video on this and anything you do that looks like something a peeping Tom would do it is illegal doing it with a drone
The FAA specifically said, "It's just a flying camera so treat it like you would any other camera activity. If they are breaking local laws (trespassing, privacy etc) then take action."
 
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