Precise Inevstigation
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The top equipment PIs use everyday

The Tools of Our Trade

You may already have some idea of what type of gear Private Investigators carry while on the job, after all, the basics are pretty simple. While the camera, notebook and vehicle are obvious, there are many accessories and gadgets that you may not have thought about and many of them are useful no matter who or where you are. We’ve compiled a list of some of the pieces of equipment we usually carry, including our reasons and how they could benefit you.

Please note that we are not in any way affiliated with the companies and/or products discussed below:

SatNavs and navigation
Private Investigators always have a standalone GPS device to hand


Most people now have smart phones, which should include Google maps, but a stand-alone device for route planning and checking your own location is essential for investigators because our phones need to be available for use when necessary. More importantly perhaps is that phones can be temperamental and in our experience, just at that moment when you really need them. a stand-alone GPS device can be a life saver.

We recommend the Garmin DriveSmart™ 70LMT with lifetime map and traffic updates.

Click here to visit Garmin’s Site.

Power Inverter
A power inverter is a useful piece of kit, whether you’re a PI or not

AC/DC inverter

Nowadays everyone has phones, tablets, cameras and other gadgets in their car. A power inverter can be used to charge your high-powered devices through the cigarette lighter – though most modern cars simply have a “power port” as opposed to a “cigarette lighter.” It’s a very useful tool, especially if you plan on spending an extended period of time in your vehicle. Private Investigators use power inverters to keep all their necessary equipment charged and ready to go, but almost everyone will remember a time that their phone died during a drive.

Click here to see an affordable option we found online at

Stay in the loop with a powerbank
Powerbanks are widely available, affordable and essential


For much of the same reasons as the AC/DC inverter, a Powerbank is a good idea. The inverter allows you to charge your gear while you drive, while a Powerbank allows you to charge smaller items without draining the vehicle’s battery when stationary. It’s also a good idea to have one handy for emergencies where your car’s battery does die or something else goes wrong. It can never hurt to have more power available.

We recommend pretty much any Powerbank from a reputable manufacturer. The exact model that you buy will depend on you needs, some are larger, some have more charge, some are cheaper etc.

Harvey Norman is having some kind of special deal on at the moment. Click here to see their deal on Powerbanks.

While they might be used by PIs, binoculars are useful in a range of settings


The reason we carry these is hopefully obvious, however, even if you’re not a Private Investigator and don’t need to examine people or places from a distance, they are a useful tool for recreation or emergencies. Being able to get a clear view of a distant object, person, event or animal is something that anyone may want or need to do. Especially if you’re into bird watching!

We recommend something durable if it’s going to be in your car, compact and with a decent lens. Bushnell always comes highly recommended

Overnight bags and holdalls
Having an overnight bag in the trunk can often come in handy

Overnight bag

In our industry it’s sometimes necessary to spend an unexpected evening away from home. An overnight bag in the boot, filled with toiletries, sleeping bag, flashlight and clean clothes, can be a life saver. While your job may not require sudden needs to sleep away from home, it’s a useful thing to have when your car breaks down at night, you’ve had a few too many and need to stay at a mate’s or you stumble across a mystical hotel in the middle of nowhere that looks too good to ignore. An overnight bag can be your best friend.

We recommend any high quality bag that suits your style. Why settle for something bland when you can really spruce up your trunk. Take a look at some of the overnight bags we found on (Australia).


Bin bags and black rubbish sacks
Don’t let your car get cruddy – keep a roll of black bags handy

Rubbish bags

We spend a lot of time in our car, eating, drinking and sometimes needing to sleep. Eventually you’re going to have rubbish in there. Do yourself, and your future passengers, a favour and grab a roll of black bin bags. They’ll help you keep your car clean and make emptying out your rubbish easier. Just pop them in the glove box and they’ll be there when you need them.

You can pick them up at any supermarket, but just to make life easier, click here for a selection from Coles.

Keeping cash handy is a must
It’s always a good idea to keep spare cash nearby. Not too much though!

Spare cash

While on the job we may need to spend some of our own cash, sometimes getting reimbursed, sometimes not; depending on what we buy of course. If you need to pay for a parking meter, or buy a meal so you can sit discreetly in a restaurant, then you’ll need some cash. Keeping some spare change in your car means you’ll never be unable to pay an unexpected bill.

Canon DSLRs and cameras
We never leave home without our trust Canon DSLRs

Camera & gear

Obviously as a Private Investigator we need a camera, however, you may not have realised the amount of extra kit that’s required. We generally carry two cameras, both DSLRs and more discreet versions for close surveillance, along with; mounted and stand-alone tripods, lenses, extra batteries and extra data storage cards. Not everyone needs this stuff, but if you’re interested in photography, keeping some spare kit in the car can’t hurt. After all, you never know when you’ll see that perfect shot.

IF you’re new to photography and you’d like something to get you started, we recommend the Canon 750D. It’s a mid-entry level DSLR that has all the bells and whistles you could want; it’s durable, high-quality and even shoots in fantastic HD quality. Check it out here on Canon Australia’s site by clicking here.

In-car tools and kit
In-car tools can save your life. Make sure they’re there.


Surveillance vehicles rack up a lot of mileage, meaning they can break down at the worst possible moment. We therefore carry a variety of tools to get ourselves and running as soon as possible, including a tyre repair kit, spare tyre, battery jump starter, Leatherman, spare oil and various wrenches etc. While some of us may have the luxury of waiting for a vehicle recovery service, others don’t, and it’s important that you do what you can to get yourself out of that situation. It’s always a good idea to have some basic tools at your disposal and the knowledge to use them, so you can save yourself time and money and avoid potential danger.

Why not go all out and get this nifty 105 piece kit from Bunnings and throw it in the boot?

Spare Clothes
If you have a spill or get some much on that nice clean shirt, it’s handy to have a spare

Spare clothes

We sometimes have to make a quick change to our appearance, so the individual under surveillance isn’t able to recognise us. While that’s a fairly specific necessity for Private Investigators, it’s good for anyone to have spare clothes available for a variety for reasons, including; spilling something on yourself; getting caught in the rain; doing something arduous; ripping your trousers and much more.

We recommend using your own clothes, it would be weird if you wore someone else’s.

Staying hydrated
Whether you’re travelling far or not, keeping water handy in the car is essential

Food & water

Long days and unexpectedly long trips mean we need to be prepared to go without access to a shop for extended periods of time. It’s always a good idea to have food and water in the car, especially water and especially in a country as big as Australia. You never know if or when you might break down and if you find yourself miles away from anyone, you could really struggle. If you have children in the car and you’re expecting to go on a long journey, water is truly essential… and food… well that might stop the whining!

Hopefully you’ve found this list of equipment informative and useful. While it’s not extensive it’s a decent basic selection and one that we hope most of you will be able to access or otherwise make use of.

If you have any issues, enquiries or mysteries that you you’d like to have handled by a professional, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. Remember that Precise Investigation is a Government Licensed private investigation agency that’s worked with hundreds of private and commercial clients across Australia over the last thirty years. We’ve got the experience, resources and the skillsets required to have your investigation seen too quickly, efficiently and, most importantly, discreetly.


Thanks for reading!


The Precise Investigation Team

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