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Fewer Car Chases, More Trying To Stay Awake: The Realities Of Private Surveillance

Courtesy of David Liston
David Liston specializes in private surveillance, which is a lot different from what you see on TV.

Private investigative work is dangerous, thrilling, romantic – or at least, that’s the impression you’d get if you just hear about P.I.s from TV and movies. In reality, according to David Liston, it can be so tedious that “there has to be something kind of wrong with you in order to be able to do it.”

Liston is principal investigator at David Liston Investigative Services which is based in University Place. He says the movie version of P.I. work often gives clients unrealistic expectations. He’s been asked to buy drugs, to break into homes and to get into territory more suited to the peeping Tom than the professional investigator. What he can do, though, is stick with a subject he’s surveilling for hours and hours – days sometimes – and capture evidence when their guard is down.

He spoke with Sound Effect host Gabriel Spitzer about the realities of private surveillance, and the few times when real life really was as dramatic as the stories of his on-screen counterparts. 

Gabriel Spitzer is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.