How Much Do Private Investigators Charge for Surveillance in 2024?

Private Investigator's camera with a large lens used for surveillance on the dashboard of a surveillance vehicle.

The Costs of Hiring a Private Investigator for Surveillance in BC

Are you considering hiring a private investigator for surveillance services and need clarification on the costs and the process? Perhaps your situation involves a potentially unfaithful partner, a complex child custody case, or suspected disability fraud.

The necessity for the information may arise from growing suspicion or newly surfaced evidence, prompting the need for concrete proof. You may have decided to take matters into their hands, or legal counsel could have advised you to gather more evidence.  

In these moments, your world may feel unsettling, and the stress of the unknown can weigh heavily on you. Of course, you need answers, but most importantly, you need clarity about the cost and process involved. We designed this content to illuminate the path forward and ease your concerns.

In this article, we will discuss the value surveillance services can provide, factors influencing the cost of hiring a private investigator for surveillance, our company’s current rates for surveillance, our Surveillance Fees Calculator a personalized instant estimate, success stories with the breakdown of the fees for those cases, alternatives to surveillance, the risks of hiring a private investigator for surveillance, and what to expect during and after a surveillance investigation. 

You will gain an in-depth understanding of how we calculate these costs and what factors might affect them. We understand your need for transparency and aim to offer you nothing less, helping you know the rates, additional fees, and much more. Our goal is to equip you with the knowledge you need to make an informed decision that best suits your needs and budget.

As a leading professional in the field of private investigations, we bring over 30 years of experience and expertise to the table.

Our reputation rests on our rich history of solving numerous complex cases, offering our clients comprehensive, evidence-based results. In addition, our understanding and empathy for the emotional and financial impact these situations can have on you underline our commitment to providing the most reliable and ethical service.

What Are Surveillance Services?

Surveillance services, in the context of private investigations, refer to systematically monitoring a person, group, or location to gather information and evidence related to a specific case or inquiry.

These services actively observe behaviors, interactions, and activities, often without the knowledge of the individuals under surveillance.

Depending on the unique aspects of your case, our methods can vary. These might involve physical stakeouts, following the subject, or using advanced audio or video recording equipment. In some situations, we might blend into the environment, so we remain inconspicuous.

Surveillance services are invaluable in infidelity caseschild custody disputesworkplace misconduct, and disability fraud suspicions. In addition, the data we gather could offer significant insights and evidence, influencing personal matters, court cases, or insurance claims.

However, it’s crucial for you to understand that our professional private investigators always operate within the law.

We respect privacy rights and abide by ethical guidelines. Our training equips us to gather necessary evidence with minimal intrusion, ensuring a discreet, respectful, and legally compliant process. Remember, our goal is to provide you with the answers you need, but it’s equally vital that we do so responsibly and within the confines of the law.

Private Investigator using surveillance video camera while seated in a surveillance vehicle

Factors in Determining Surveillance Fees

When you engage a private investigator for surveillance services, it’s essential to grasp the financial commitment that comes with it entirely. The cost can vary as numerous factors influence it, and rarely is there a one-size-fits-all fee due to the unique nature of each investigation.

The factors impacting the cost include:

  1. Duration: The length of the surveillance operation directly affects the cost. The longer the surveillance, the higher the price is likely to be.
  2. Human Resources: Depending on the complexity of your case, the subject’s alertness, and the location’s challenges, we may need to deploy multiple investigators. Each additional investigator would inevitably impact the cost.
  3. Travel and Expenses: Surveillance often requires travel. Any related transportation, accommodation (if needed), and other out-of-pocket expenses form part of the overall cost.
  4. Evidence Preparation: Collecting, analyzing, and preparing evidence for presentation can be labor-intensive and time-consuming. If this is billed by the hour rather than a flat rate, it will add to the overall cost.

Any reputable private investigation firm should clearly explain the fees involved. In most scenarios, you can establish a budget for the surveillance operation with the understanding that unforeseen circumstances might result in extra costs.

How Much Do Private Investigators Charge for Surveillance in BC?

Rates for surveillance are $75 per hour, with travel at $0.79 per km and reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses. In addition, once the case concludes, we compile the report, videos, and photographs for a $100 fee upon request. For a personalized instant estimate, please use our Surveillance Fees Calculator.

Current Rates for Surveillance at Shadow Investigations Ltd.

Hourly Rate$75 per hour
Travel -Mileage$0.79 per km
ExpensesReimbursement for out-of-pocket
Report, video, and photographs$100
Current Rates at Shadow Investigations Ltd

Success Stories and a Breakdown of Fees

At first glance, these costs may seem straightforward. Still, their significance becomes evident when viewed in cases we’ve handled. So, allow me to walk you through a few scenarios demonstrating the return on investment.

Case 1: Infidelity Investigation: In an infidelity case, a client suspected her partner of being unfaithful. The surveillance operation lasted one day, encompassing 5 hours, costing $375 ($75/hour). Furthermore, the subject’s varied activities resulted in 105 km of mileage, which cost $82.95 ($0.79/km). In addition, the case required several out-of-pocket expenses, such as entry to a paid venue, totaling $70. Finally, the office fee for the final report compilation was $100.

The total cost for this case was $627.95. Ultimately, our client received irrefutable evidence, enabling her to make informed decisions about her relationship.

Case 2: Disability Fraud Investigation: A corporation commissioned our team to investigate a suspected insurance fraud case over four days. This case involved 32 hours of surveillance, totaling $2,400 ($75/hour). The claimant’s residence was in a suburban area, necessitating a total of 320 km of mileage, amounting to $252.80 ($0.79/km). Additionally, we incurred minor out-of-pocket expenses of $20, and the administrative fee for the final report amounted to $100.

The total cost for this case came to $2,772.80. Our collected evidence confirmed the fraud and helped our client’s corporation save tens of thousands of dollars in fraudulent disability payments.

Case 3: Child Custody Case: A concerned parent approached us about their child’s safety during visitations with an estranged spouse. Our team monitored the accused parent over various visitation periods. This operation spanned three days with 24 hours of surveillance, costing $1,800 ($75/hour). The investigation required 180 km of mileage, amounting to $142.20 ($0.79/km), and out-of-pocket expenses were negligible at $10.

With the $100 report compilation fee, the total cost was $2,052.20. We provided evidence of unsafe conditions and behavior, leading to the court’s decision to adjust custody and visitation rights in the child’s best interest.

In each of these scenarios, the cost of our services paid dividends in delivering truth, peace of mind, and significant financial savings. It’s not just about the money spent but the value and results achieved with each operation.

Considering Alternatives to Surveillance Services

Surveillance is a powerful tool for collecting vital information. Yet, more budget-friendly methods might be just as effective or could supplement surveillance to create a comprehensive approach. Consider the following alternatives:

  1. Background Checks: These can give you essential details about someone, including their criminal history, employment background, and personal connections.
  2. Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT): OSINT gathers data from public sources like social media, public records, and online, giving you a glimpse into a person’s activities and connections without physical surveillance.
  3. Witness Interviews: Sometimes, interviewing those involved or those who know them can reveal crucial information.
  4. Digital Forensics: If you’re dealing with online harassment, identity theft, or digital fraud, digital forensics could be the answer. This service involves retrieving and analyzing data from digital devices.
  5. Polygraph Testing: A lie detector test measures physiological responses to a series of questions to indicate possible deception.
  6. Undercover Investigations: Sometimes, having an investigator blend into a situation like a workplace or social group may give you more detailed information than external surveillance could.

Every case is different, and the most effective strategy will depend on your unique circumstances and objectives. However, as professional investigators, we can recommend the most appropriate methods for your situation.

The Value of Hiring a Private Investigator 

Hiring a private investigator for surveillance services is a significant decision with important financial implications. We understand that this commitment can feel daunting, especially when you’re already dealing with emotionally challenging circumstances.

As you consider this decision, it’s crucial to appreciate what your investment entails. In essence, you’re paying for the time, expertise, and access to a professional’s specialized resources to provide reliable, evidence-based responses to your most urgent questions.

  1. Quality Results: A reputable private investigator brings a wealth of experience, training, and industry-specific knowledge. This professional competence directly impacts the quality of results you can expect.
  2. Discretion and Ethics: When you hire a professional, you pay for a service conducted discreetly and ethically, ensuring your privacy and the operation’s legality.
  3. Risk Mitigation: Surveillance services can help mitigate risks in various situations, potentially saving you money and stress in the long term.
  4. Professional Guidance: Private investigators provide more than just surveillance services. They can guide you through the process, keep you informed, and support you in making decisions based on the obtained evidence.
  5. Peace of Mind: Investing in a professional private investigator’s services can provide peace of mind, knowing that an expert is handling your case.

It’s not solely about the cost but the significant value you’ll derive from this service.

Ethics, Legality, and Trust: Choosing a PI Wisely

As you navigate hiring a private investigator, you must consider the ethics, legality, and trustworthiness of the investigator or agency you choose.

Licensed private investigators adhere to a strict code of ethics, which includes maintaining client confidentiality, conducting fair and unbiased investigations, and ensuring that any gathered information is acquired legally and ethically.

It’s essential to understand the legal parameters within which private investigators operate. A professional investigator will be familiar with relevant local, provincial, and national laws related to surveillance and privacy laws such as the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA) and Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA). These laws cover trespassing, privacy, and the use and admissibility of surveillance data as evidence in court.

One of the critical factors in hiring a private investigator is trust. You’re entrusting the company with sensitive information. You should feel confident that they will handle your case discreetly, professionally, and ethically. Check for licenses, qualifications, and memberships in professional organizations such as PIABC to ensure they are reputable.

Remember, it’s not just about the cost. You must ensure the investigator you hire is ethical, legal, and trustworthy, as they play a critical role in your pursuit of truth, justice, or peace of mind.

Prioritizing Confidentiality and Data Security

When hiring a private investigation firm for surveillance services, you’re not just paying for the investigation process but investing in the assurance of confidentiality and data security.

Reputable firms must treat your sensitive information with professionalism and discretion.

Private investigation companies should only share your details and case information with your explicit consent, barring any legal obligations. As a client, you should have complete control over your case details.

Robust data protection measures are a must to prevent unauthorized access or data misuse. Data should be on encrypted servers in a secure and resilient way with locally redundant backups, built-in software patching, and network load balancing in a facility physically constructed, managed, and monitored with 24-hour physical security for protection from unauthorized access and environmental threats. 

The company should have a virtual private network (VPN) configured with point-to-site connections for data in transit and enforce a multifactor authentication policy for access to the VPN.

Lastly, reputable firms should ensure open communication, ready to address any data handling or privacy concerns you may have.

Risks of Hiring a Private Investigator for Surveillance

Bringing in a private investigator for surveillance can present certain risks. The primary concerns usually revolve around the possibility of the surveillance getting exposed and the potential results or repercussions of the findings.

Addressing Surveillance Being Discovered
Expert private investigators employ various strategies and cutting-edge technology to minimize the likelihood of being detected during surveillance. We carefully balance maintaining a safe distance and remaining close enough to collect the necessary information.

No surveillance operation can guarantee complete undetectability. If the individual under surveillance becomes aware, a well-versed investigator will have backup plans ready to manage the situation.

Dealing with Outcomes and Consequences
The outcome of a surveillance operation can significantly differ based on the case at hand. It could validate suspicions, uncover new information, or sometimes result in no significant findings.

You should also be prepared for potential legal and personal implications. For example, findings might lead to court cases or affect intimate relationships.

It’s crucial to have open discussions with your investigator about your concerns, expectations, and the potential scenarios that might unfold.

A professional investigator will guide you through the process, addressing your worries and helping you understand what to expect. They can also provide support and resources for handling the outcomes, ensuring you know the situation once the surveillance concludes.

In the end, your goal is not only to hire an investigator but to find a trusted partner who can navigate the intricacies of your case, keeping your best interests in mind.

What to Expect During the Surveillance Process

Private investigations can seem intricate, but many companies like ours have simplified their surveillance process into four primary steps.

Step 1: Initial Consultation
The process begins with a confidential consultation, allowing the company to comprehend your circumstances and what you aim to accomplish from the surveillance. Here, the company typically discusses potential costs, timeframes, and any concerns you may have.

Step 2: Planning and Preparation
The firm crafts a strategic plan tailored to your unique situation using the insights gained from the consultation and the information you provide in the surveillance intake form. This plan involves gathering the requisite information, conducting initial research, and planning logistics to ensure efficient surveillance.

Step 3: Gathering and Documenting Evidence
The main task during surveillance is to gather and document court-admissible evidence, if needed, in a discreet manner. This evidence includes video footage, photographs, and comprehensive observed activity reports.

Step 4: Constant Communication
Respected companies prioritize keeping you informed. As the surveillance operation progresses, they provide regular updates while upholding stringent confidentiality standards.

Remembering that this is a simplified representation of a typical process is essential. Each case is unique, and private investigation companies are often prepared to adjust their approach according to the distinct needs of a situation or client.

Post-Surveillance Steps: What Happens After the Investigation?

Completing surveillance doesn’t signal the end of the process when working with a reputable private investigation company.

Ensuring that results are deeply examined, lucidly presented, and efficiently utilized are crucial steps. Here’s a typical flow:

  1. Evidence Compilation and Analysis: Post-surveillance, the investigators compile all evidence – video clips, photos, and related documents. This data is then analyzed to understand the person’s actions and behaviors comprehensively.
  2. Report Preparation: The investigators prepare a detailed report encapsulating the surveillance findings, designed to be easily understandable without sacrificing essential details. It should include an event timeline, key observations, and significant discoveries backed by photographic or video evidence.
  3. Case Review and Consultation: The company will discuss the case findings with you, explain the implications, answer any queries, and recommend subsequent courses of action based on the investigation’s outcomes.
  4. Evidence and Documentation Storage: The investigation company should securely store all the evidence and documentation from the case for a predetermined period, ensuring ready access to the investigation’s information if required.

In the post-surveillance phase, the focus is to ensure that the investigation results are transparently presented, understood, and effectively utilized.

Surveillance Services for Achieving Results

We’ve delved into the intricacies of surveillance services and discussed what they entail, the costs involved, and how they can provide you with the answers you seek. 

The decision to hire a private investigator can be life-altering. It can mean the difference between uncertainty and obtaining the information you need to make informed decisions. In addition, in cases such as infidelity, child custody, or disability fraud, surveillance services can provide critical evidence that impacts your personal life, family, or business.

Moreover, it’s about regaining control, not only of the situation at hand but also of your future. These services offer more than just information – they provide clarity and peace of mind.

These findings can lead to definitive actions, whether pursuing legal routes, making necessary changes, or simply finding closure.

For a complimentary, obligation-free consultation, please get in touch with us at, or fill out our contact form below with your preferred contact method and a brief overview of what you would like assistance with. We keep all information confidential and only use contact information to respond to inquiries.

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About the Author

Photograph of Janet Helm, the Co-Founder and current Managing Director of Shadow Investigations Ltd.