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Using A Plane To Conduct An Aerial Surveillance……

IMG_8613It was one of the hottest days in the month of August.  One of our claims management clients contacted Ranno Investigative Services and requested our help in an urgent matter. They were being sued for a large dollar amount claim from a man who was involved in a motorcycle accident with their client. They hired another investigation company to conduct the investigate and follow the claimant and unfortunately for them, that company got caught. Because of that, they could no longer put that company back on the claimant without being accused of harassing the claimant if caught again. That’s why they called us.

We set a plan up for a five person investigation in order to cover all of the ways that the claimant could go when he left his house. We got that plan approved and scheduled the surveillance. We coordinated all of our radio and earpieces and geared up our equipment.

On the day of the surveillance it was a few hours before the claimant left his house. We carefully drove past his residence every half hour but there was no noted activity outside of his residence. Finally the claimant moved. He was skillfully followed to a few locations when all of a sudden he started performing a counter surveillance (driving in a pattern that would weed out any vehicles that could be following him). We attempted to alternate our investigators but the claimant was adamant about being safe and making sure he was not being followed. We had to terminate the case for the day so we did not get caught.

I sat down later at the office and tried to determine a way to get the evidence or information our client needed. They felt strongly that the claimant was lying about his claim of being unable to do anything work related or strenuous or being able to lift anything more than five pounds. I explained to my client that I would have to think outside the box in order to catch the claimant if he was lying about his claim. A few days later, I had an idea.

When this case was taking place, Ranno Investigative Services had an office in the hanger area of the Brainard Airport in Hartford, CT. Many contacts were made during our time at that office, being at the airport and also visiting the airport bar every day for happy hour. In seeing the planes and helicopters outside on the tarmac, I thought to myself that maybe an aerial surveillance would work. I started making some calls.

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Finally I tracked down Richard. He was a local small plane owner that used to visit the bar often when we hung out there. When I explained the surveillance situation to Richard, he was very excited to help. We put some numbers together for renting the plane, fuel costs and other associated costs and then I brought that to my client. As far out as the idea was they loved it. They approved the funds and we scheduled the next surveillance date.

We started preparing for the upcoming event. It was going to be myself and one other investigator in the plane, as well as Richard the pilot. We had purchased a swivel tripod and long range zoom lens for our video cameras. That would ensure we could get the shot without it moving around too much while recording. Once all of the equipment was purchased and prepared, we were ready to go.

The day finally came. We took off from our local airport and were on our way. It was a smooth IMG_8619ride for a small plane. We had a back wind that took us there quicker than expected. When we arrived in the area of the claimant’s neighborhood we made sure to stay high above the area so the plane would not be heard or noticed.

As we located the residence, we could clearly see the claimant’s vehicle in the driveway. We were very happy to see that he was home. It would have been a big waste of money and time if he was already gone.

After circling around for over an hour, the claimant finally moved. At first it was difficult to keep an eye on the claimant as we had to circle around over and over to stay in the same area as the claimant, however, with one investigator watching the claimant with binoculars and me on the camera recording and yelling out to the pilot, we were finally able to conduct an aerial surveillance.

We followed the claimant to three stops with success.  A gas station, a supermarket and then finally a private residence. It appeared that we were successful so far in eluding the claimant while following him at the same time.

Once the claimant arrived at the private residence it appeared that he was going to remain there for some time. We continued to circle around over the neighborhood. In videotaping the house the claimant was at, it appeared that it was either under construction of some sort or was about to be. There were ladders up against the house and pallets of an undetermined construction material on the ground.

Finally, the claimant exited. As we got ready to continue following him by plane, he climbed one of the ladders. I started shooting video and was very happy to see this unfolding on camera. The next thing I knew the claimant pulled out a tool and started scraping the shingles off of the roof of this house. Bingo. !!! Not only was this claimant lying about their injuries they were able to do roofing.. The claimant was using heavy strength to remove the tiles and throw them down and was up and down the ladder with, what appeared to be, ease. The expense of the plane was now paying off big time..!!

IMG_8615We stayed out on the claimant for the full eight hours we rented the plane for and got hours of video of him scraping off the shingles and replacing a large portion of the roof. Good, clean, clear video of the claimant working construction on an undetermined residence. He apparently felt safe after his ground counter surveillance and saw no one following and then went to the current location. A big win for Ranno Investigative Services….

Later we determined that the house was owned by his mother. He was replacing a roof on her home because she was older and on a fixed budget. It was a very nice gesture for him to want to help his mother but lying about an injury for a settlement was a very bad idea. Especially with Ranno Investigative Services on the case….

Ranno Investigative Services – Blog – Connecticut Private Investigators