The Surveillance Serve


Any professional involved in serving court papers, also known as serving civil process, will have their own story about how far some people will go to try and evade service of process.  Every story is different, but they have one common element: the person serving process needs to be able to see through the deception and complete the serve.

This task is often beyond the skills of a process server because they don’t have the resources to prepare themselves adequately, in the way a licensed private investigator does.  The private investigator called upon to serve process can afford to be more thorough.

While preparing to serve process, the private investigator runs what we call a “database search” for information to help serve the subject.  The database search makes sure we have the person’s correct name and their current residence information.

With good residence data, the experienced private investigator will take the service of process game to the next level.  Its called the surveillance serve.  As its name suggests, the investigator does not try to serve someone by knocking on their door.  Door knocks are an invitation for the subject to display evasive behavior.

Instead, the investigator puts the subject’s home under surveillance and waits for them to leave.  After all, most people leave their homes to work, shop or just recreate.  When someone leaves the comfort of their home, apartment or condominium, they also leave the protection of their private property.

Once out of doors the investigator begins the act of serving civil process.  First, they will activate one or more covert cameras to catch the moment of service on video.  Then, the investigator leaves their surveillance hide and calls out to the subject.  This part is for the camera.  When the investigator says, “Hey good morning (insert subject’s name),” and the subject turns their head to look, they are served at that point.

Still, the thorough professional will follow up with the comment “you are served.  These are important legal papers and you should consult with an attorney.”   The subject should accept the papers by this time, but many don’t.  Many will still run off or deny who they are.  Its not a problem.

Once served, the investigator may drop the papers and announce “you have been served.  I am leaving these papers here for you.”  Capture all of these events on the video in case the subject or some lawyer tries to get clever and attempt to deny the serve.

The investigator provides the usual proof of service.  However, an investigator will also provide a professional report summarizing the events of the serve which will include color photos drawn from the video.  Finally, the investigator will provide a short clip of the serve to their client.  This can be done by thumb drive, CD or DVD, or by download from services like DropBox or Microsofts OneDrive.

JD Stone was one of the first private investigators to offer the Surveillance Serve and is an expert in the use of covert cameras and their use when serving civil process.

To learn more about JD Stone and his effective use of the Surveillance Serve, please visit his website at

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