How to Spy on Neighbors

Three Parts:Setting up BaseWatching from AfarGathering Intel

We won’t ask you a bunch of questions and we aren’t here to judge your intentions. The fact of the matter is, sometimes your neighbors need to be watched. A solid neighborhood watch system is the best way to ensure that crime, vandalism, and other potential wrongdoing is prevented. There are numerous legal surveillance techniques you can utilize, whether you’re seeking answers to specific questions you have or if you just want to find out a little more about the people who share your street.

Part 1
Setting up Base

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    Find a location that gives you a clear view of the neighbor of interest. Ideally, the neighbor you are spying on lives next door or across the street, and you can observe them through a window. However, this won’t work if your neighbor is a couple houses down or across the neighborhood. In these cases, perhaps you can park your car on the street near their house, or even find a comfortable bush to hide in. Creativity is the mark of a great spy.
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    Gather your equipment. This can include binoculars, a telescope, or even night-vision goggles if you have the cash to invest in them. A camera is useful for documenting anything suspicious you might see, and a voice recorder can be used to save conversations of importance.
    • Your spy equipment is your most important asset, but it can also turn into your most incriminating if you aren't careful. Make sure you understand when it is and isn't appropriate and legal to record or photograph your neighbors.
    • The general rule of thumb is that people in public places don't have to give their consent to be recorded. When your neighbors are in private places, such as their homes, they can still be recorded if they are in public view (i.e. in front of big windows or on their sidewalks).[1]
    • Use your common sense while spying. Watching them play Scrabble in their living room is one thing, peering through closed blinds into their bedroom is another. It is possible to be a successful spy without breaking any laws or totally violating someone's right to privacy.
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    Get comfortable. To be a great spy, you must be patient. Whether you are camping out in your living room or your car to watch your neighbor, you need to make sure that your home base is somewhere you can spend a great deal of time. You may be staked out for days, weeks, or even months getting the information you need.
    • Make sure you have coffee or energy drinks in your base. You need to be alert at all hours of the day or night, so caffeine will become your best friend.[2] Keep snacks handy as well, because you don't want to miss seeing something important because you made a dash to McDonald's.
    • Dress comfortably and appropriately. If you are staking out outside, make sure you dress for the elements. Wear comfortable shoes and clothes that you can move around in, so that you're prepared to face anything.
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    Make your base discreet. Remember that if you can see your neighbor, they can probably see you. You don’t want your base to catch their eye by appearing out of the ordinary. Make sure that to anyone who looks in, your set-up looks no different than a bedroom, living room, or home office.
    • It is a good idea to keep a television, books, a computer, or some other form of entertainment in your spy base. If neighbors see you spending hours upon hours in the same spot, they will wonder why. If you're sitting silently in a utility closet staring out the window, people may become suspicious. However, people won't give you a second glance if it looks like you're reading or working on a laptop.
    • Keep binoculars, telescopes, and other spy devices out of sight. People may have no idea what you’re using them for, but they could still raise suspicions. You don’t want your neighbor to become guarded, because it will only make your job more difficult.
    • If your vehicle is your base, make sure that you always keep equipment concealed in the glove compartment or a carrying case. Not only will exposed spy equipment be a red flag for passersby, but it can also make your car a target for a break-in.

Part 2
Watching from Afar

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    Use binoculars or a telescope. This will allow you to observe your neighbor without trespassing onto their private property. The best place to do this is from a window in your home or car. Keep your lights off so the neighbors cannot see you observing them. You can watch them through windows or as they go about their day-to-day activities outside their home.
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    Have a realistic disguise. Things will get very awkward very fast if your neighbor notices that you’ve been spying. Avoid the big fake mustaches and costume glasses, and instead go for a subtle disguise. Wigs, hats, and baggy clothing can all be used to effectively conceal your identity. Don’t forget to dress appropriately for your surroundings, however. If you stick out like a sore thumb, you will surely be noticed by your neighbor.[3]
    • This is especially important if you are watching from outside your home, such as on the street, in public places, or from your car.
    • Change up your disguise regularly. Your neighbor will become suspicious if they see the same person everywhere they go.
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    Take notes and pictures. Even if something seems mundane, jot it down, take a picture, record it, etc. Note the date and time on all the pieces of evidence you record. Every piece of information you gather can come together to form the bigger picture, so don’t underestimate the importance of little details.
    • Remember to be careful that you're not doing anything illegal when you take pictures. You can get in serious trouble if your neighbor had every reason to expect privacy, such as when they are in a bathroom or bedroom with blinds drawn.[4]
    • Don’t forget to turn your flash off when you take pictures. It won’t be very sneaky if you are blinding them with light.

Part 3
Gathering Intel

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    Sort through their garbage. This sounds disgusting, and it is. However, you can learn a lot about your neighbor by seeing what they are throwing away. Get gloves, and get your hands dirty. Wait until it's dark and go rummage through their trash bins or even take the entire bag.
    • Don't go through their garbage while it is on their property, because you can get in trouble for trespassing. Wait until they've put their garbage out on the curb for collection. When their trash is on the street, they've forfeited their privacy rights and you can rummage through it legally.[5]
    • While it may be legal, it still may appear creepy and invasive. If you want to be sneaky, wait until the area is deserted or dark.
    • You can find valuable information about your neighbor from receipts and bills. This can give you information about where they go, where they shop, etc.
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    Learn their schedule. This is where note-taking really comes in handy. Do they leave their house every day at the same time in workout clothes? Does the same visitor come over weekly at the same time? By noting patterns, you can piece together their day-to-day lives and get a better idea of who exactly you are spying on.
    • By having a clear idea of their typical schedule, you'll be more likely to notice when something is out of the ordinary.
    • Knowing their schedule is also important so you know when to be tuned in and watching the home, or when you can take a quick rest. As a spy, it is important to get rest when you know you won't miss anything major.
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    Establish online connections. Add them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or whatever other social medias they may have. They will most likely accept your online advances because you’re neighbors, after all. The things that your neighbor posts on social media will give you huge insight into their lives.[6]
    • Don't be overeager and add them on every social media platform within five minutes. If they feel creeped out, they're not likely to accept your requests.
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    Invite them to neighborly gatherings. Keep your friends close, your enemies closer, and the people you’re spying on even closer than that. Sure, it looks pretty cool to dress in all black and watch them under the cover of darkness, but you can get more information by spending time with them. As people let their guards down, they’ll share more and more. This also eliminates the risk of being seen as the paranoid, nosy neighbor.
    • Host a cookout or a game night with multiple neighbors, so that the particular neighbors in question don't feel like they are being singled out.
    • Alcohol can be a truth serum, so let it flow! If you are trying to get information out of your neighbor, offer them a beer or three.[7]


  • If you believe your neighbor is breaking the law, report your concerns to law enforcement. Confronting them yourself may be dangerous.
  • Different places have different laws. Before you do anything, it’s helpful to brush up on what is legal and illegal in your area.

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Categories: Spying