Private detective's iPad/iPhone used extensively in research and surveillance

Thomas H. Humphreys

What do you do? I'm a private investigator. Our entire team uses the iPhone and iPad extensively in our research and while on surveillance.

Which device do you use? iPhone and iPad.

How long have you had them? About one year.

How do you use your device? The iPhone is obviously perfect for telephone use, but we also use Heytell (free, quite often to cut down on unnecessary chatter while on surveillance. The iPad is our new go-to source for mapping. We use ArcGIS ( to build customized surveillance maps. The built-in Maps application is also handy for those times when the plan falls apart and we have to start searching. Using proprietary databases online also allows us to run license plates and gather immediate information about the people we are observing. We also put together a subject profile for each investigator to have available on the iPad. This includes a photo, license plate number, description, etc.

What apps do you use the most? The built-in iPhone Camera and Video apps are both used extensively for surveillance. Other apps include Harvest (free,, Maps (built in), LiveView GPS (free,, Dropbox (free,, Penultimate ($1.99,, and Splashtop ($4.99,

What would you do if you didn't have the iPhone or iPad? I cannot remember what it was like to try and cobble together surveillance reports, photos, e-mails, radios, etc. We can do the work without the devices, but it would be a pain.

Do you consider yourself an Apple fanatic? We do own about 15 Mac devices. I have a PC in the office that runs a couple of programs that the Mac does not. I have replaced that computer about every two years. I have had one Mac G5 in the office now for 8 years, no troubles. So, to answer your question about being an Apple fanatic... Maybe.

September-October 2011
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