Frequently Asked Questions:

What exactly do you mean by Surveillance?“Surveillance consists of using various methods to document where a person goes, who they see, and what they do.  Domestic surveillance is undertaken to find out if a partner is cheating or a former partner/child’s parent is engaging in activities that could be harmful to their children.  There are many surveillance techniques, including Tech, use of hidden video equipment to record activity in publicly visible places, and use of investigators to follow and photograph and/or video subjects to document their activities without their knowledge.  Video footage, photographic evidence, and statements of investigators, if properly obtained and preserved, are powerful evidence in Family Court proceedings.

I’m embarrassed just talking to someone about this.“We regularly get calls from people who suspect their partner or significant other of infidelity or other harmful activities. It is nothing to be embarrassed about. What you are seeking is peace of mind. It is natural to want to determine whether your suspicions are real or imagined. We invest a tremendous part of our selves in relationships. It is natural to want to determine the strength and integrity of that relationship. And if you are a parent, it is natural to want to know if your child’s other parent is engaging in activities that could harm your child.  You are doing the right thing by getting the facts.

What if I’m wrong?“If there is no evidence that your partner is cheating on you or doing anything else wrong, you will still have gained peace of mind.  Since our investigations are 100% confidential, you will not have risked sacrificing the relationship by confronting an innocent person with unfounded allegations.

Is this kind of surveillance legal?“Yes.  There are limitations on the nature and extent of surveillance activities, of course.  As a SLED-licensed Private Investigation firm, we are bound by the laws and regulations that have been put in place to protect all citizens from undue intrusions into their private lives.  We use state-of-the-art technology and techniques to gain the most information legally possible.

How much does it cost to hire a private detective?“Surveillance is billed according to the type of equipment used, the time spent by investigators on the case, and mileage incurred. Rates may also depend on when and where the surveillance will take place. Before the case is started, a strategy is established depending on the circumstances and your needs. Once this plan is in place a budget can be established. A retainer is required in advance of the work being conducted, which can vary according to the needs of each case and client.  Payments can be made by credit card, cash, check or money order. Click here for more information on our fees.

How is the surveillance plan established?“We work together with you to establish a plan that is both productive and cost-effective. Because you know more about your partner’s/child’s parent’s behavior than we ever will, we rely on you to assist us in identifying the correct time and place to watch them. We need you to determine when they are most likely to be engaged in this behavior and where we should start the surveillance. If you are not able to discern when or where, we will help you identify possible opportunities and focus the investigation.  This may involve use of Tech technology or other techniques.

How many investigators are used on a surveillance case?“The number of investigators used depends on a number of factors. Basic surveillance on an individual being followed from home or an uncomplicated work situation can often be conducted by one investigator. More complicated scenarios, such as following someone from a high rise office building, airport, or hotel, often require an additional investigator. Other situations where we may recommend a second investigator include fast and aggressive drivers and extra alert drivers who always watch their rear view mirror. Of course an additional investigator increases the cost of surveillance, so this factor is also taken into consideration in determining your budget. For a proper frame of reference, consider the fact that no law enforcement agency would ever conduct surveillance with fewer than two cars.  The more investigators on the case, the less likely they are to be detected.

What do I do once the surveillance is set up?“Once the surveillance plan is in place, it is important that you do not do anything to alert the subject of the investigation. Do not change your habits, and do not ask too many questions about their activities. Behaving differently than normal increases the possibility that the investigators could be discovered by the subject.

Will the person being watched find out that they are being watched?”Our surveillance investigations are 100% confidential. We do everything possible to ensure the covert nature of the investigation. If we ever perceive that the security of the investigation is threatened, we back off and re-evaluate with your input. No investigation firm can honestly claim that no subject ever discovers their surveillance.  However, our state-of-the-art equipment and experienced investigators make discovery unlikely and unusual.  Most importantly, never threaten to hire an investigator or tell the subject that you have hired one. This will make the person even more difficult to watch. If you have done this, be sure to tell us ahead of time so we can prepare.

What evidence will I receive at the conclusion of the investigation?“The evidence collected in domestic surveillance consists of the video recording(s) of the activities observed and a surveillance report that details all the activity in writing. Both are submitted to you or your attorney, or, if you wish, we can maintain them for you.

Can’t I just get a friend or relative to follow my partner?“Having a friend or relative follow your partner is strongly discouraged. A person conducting surveillance without a Private Investigator’s license may be subject to legal action, including arrest, under certain circumstances.  A licensed Private Investigator, acting within the law and pursuant to a contract for services, is exempt from prosecution for certain activities that could land a lay person in jail.  An untrained person without proper equipment is also unlikely to be able to establish or maintain effective surveillance.  An untrained person is very likely to miss important information, fail to secure proper proof, and also to get caught, not only revealing that you are suspicious, but possibly putting your friend or relative in danger and ruining any chance you may have had to obtain evidence admissible for court.  Additionally, a friend or relative, if called on in Court, will be portrayed as biased in your favor, and their testimony may prove useless to you.  A licensed investigator can conduct surveillance efficiently and effectively, is an unbiased witness in court, and is much less likely to be discovered by the subject of the investigation.  And in some cases, you may be able to recover part or all of a licensed Private Investigator’s fees by Court Order.  Checking up on your partner by having a friend or relative follow them is not recommended. The risks are great, and the potential benefits are few.

Are there typical signs that someone is cheating?

Statistics indicate that 85% of women who feel their lover is cheating on them are correct and that 50% of men who feel their lover is cheating are correct. If you have suspicions, consider some of the following and be as impartial as possible:

  • Be discreet when looking for information, and even if you feel you know for sure, consult with an investigator and/or an attorney before taking further action.  Tipping off your partner about your knowledge of the affair too soon could ruin your chances of obtaining evidence that can be used in court.
  • Adultery can be hard to prove, but it is especially difficult when the subject knows they are being watched. Be patient, use good judgment and seek professional assistance.


Private Investigator Columbia SC

Stillinger Investigations, Inc.
1416 Park Street
Columbia, SC 29201
(803) 400-1974

Private Investigator Rock Hill SC

Stillinger Investigations, Inc.
331 East Main Street Suite 200
Rock Hill, SC 29730
(803) 232-7301

Private Investigator Lexington SC

Stillinger Investigations, Inc.
203 West Main Street Suite G6
Lexington, SC 29072
(803) 699-3350

Private Investigator Myrtle Beach SC

Stillinger Investigations, Inc.
1203 48th Ave N Ste 201
Myrtle Beach, SC 29577
(843) 492-2999

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Stillinger Investigations, Inc.
170 Meeting Street
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 212-1338

Stillinger Investigations is the Best Private Investigator in Columbia SC! Brian Stillinger is the owner of one of the most prominent private investigation companies in South Carolina.
At Stillinger Investigations, we have 125+ years of combined investigative experience and a diverse team with a wide range of backgrounds and qualifications.
We are a private investigation team focusing on adultery, child custody, insurance fraud, civil litigation and criminal defense investigations. With 12 full-time, licensed investigators, we provide prompt, thorough, dependable service to attorneys, insurance companies and individual clients throughout the Southeast US. We maintain a full range of technical and surveillance equipment, including specialize
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