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Neighborhood canvassing is a vital technique for private investigators, especially in urban areas where potential witnesses and surveillance devices are plentiful. This method involves systematically interviewing residents and identifying surveillance that can provide crucial evidence for a case. Here's why it's important and some dos and don’ts to follow.

Surveillance Camera

Why Neighborhood Canvassing Matters

  1. Witness Identification: Urban areas are full of people who might have seen or heard something useful.

  2. Surveillance Discovery: Finding video cameras, doorbell cameras, and street cameras is essential as they often capture important footage.

  3. Corroborating Evidence: Multiple sources of information help verify facts and strengthen the case.

Dos and Don’ts for Effective Neighborhood Canvassing in Urban investigations


  • Plan Methodically: Map out the area and approach each building systematically.

  • Be Professional: Introduce yourself clearly and respect residents' privacy.

  • Identify Surveillance: Look for visible cameras and note their locations.

  • Document Everything: Keep detailed notes and take photos of surveillance devices.

  • Follow Up: Revisit the area at different times to identify more residents or employees.


  • Don’t forget to identify all of the residents or employees at a specific location: Make arrangements to return to interview those who are not present.

  • Don’t Trespass: Respect private property and get permission before accessing video footage.

  • Don’t Overlook Electronic Evidence: Check all possible sources of surveillance.

  • Don’t Rush: Take your time to cover the area thoroughly.

"In a recent case involving a collision between an ambulance & firetruck, I found a private video camera on a third-story apartment ledge. The footage captured the collision and provided crucial evidence that was previously unknown."

Click the image below to watch the video captured from a third-story privately owned apartment camera in Hartford, CT. Look closely at the traffic lights. Who was at fault in this collision?

This discovery, made through diligent canvassing, was pivotal in clarifying the events of the collision.


Neighborhood canvassing is essential for gathering comprehensive evidence in urban investigations. By following best practices and avoiding common mistakes, private investigators can uncover critical information and ensure thorough investigations. For expert investigative services, contact Madison Investigative Services today.

This in-depth piece explores the history, mission, and pivotal role of the Connecticut Private Investigators Association (CPIA) in the investigative industry. Learn about the resources, training, and networking opportunities they provide to private investigators across Connecticut. Don't miss this comprehensive overview that highlights the essential contributions of this key professional organization. Read the article below!

CPIA Article Don Distefano

CPIA Today

CPIA is actively recruiting new members and development of a new website is underway. Some features of the website will be a secured members-only section, automated membership registration and payment, legal and legislative updates, training opportunities,

meeting announcements and a searchable database for public use when searching for an investigator, service, or specialty.

About Don

Don DiStefano, a retired Detective Sergeant from the San Francisco Bay Area, relocated to Connecticut in 2005 to start a new chapter as the Director of Investigations with Quinnipiac University's Department of Public Safety. Since 2011, Don has been a licensed Private Investigator, bringing his extensive experience to his role as the owner of Madison Investigative Services, LLC. He is also a dedicated Team ADAM member with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Reach out today to learn more about Don's expert investigative services at Madison Investigative Services!

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