An investigation was conducted extremely well and the report looks totally professional. But all this won’t matter squat if the case gets taken to court and private investigators are unable to convince the judge and/or jury of their findings. The end-result: a case lost due to the PIs’ failure to step up and influence court authorities. While there’s no guarantee for a win every single time in court, there are ways to up the odds in the private eye’s – and client’s – favor.
Archive for June, 2007
A Private Investigator and His Tools
It goes without saying – private investigations are only as good as the proof they obtain. Putting together evidence to nail a person or locate missing people will all be a waste of time if the information gathered is shoddily taken.
What To Do To Obtain Better Investigative Video and Photography
When it comes to evidence obtained and the manner of getting hold of them, quality beats quantity. If you’re thinking of becoming a private eye, know that a nose for strange and fishy stuff isn’t enough to sustain the business. You’ve got to have the proper gear to be able to get to the evidence you want.
Here are a few tips that are bound to be of help when attempting to improve the quality of investigative videos and investigative photos you’ll take.
- Use camera stocks when taking still photography or shooting videos outside your car. This will help with the stabilization. One unit that’s been getting rave reviews is a combination camcorder/camera. It’s portable, lightweight and affords users quick deployment methods for steadying cameras, optics (like spotting scope and telescope) and video cameras. Although less stable than tripods, this doodad scores high on enhancing the ease of use and stability of cameras and optical equipment. This particular stock is collapsible, shrinking to a length of 10” and weighing just around 9 oz.
- Timing is critical to capturing great shots and videos. Learn exactly when to zoom, pan and utilize other moves. Making constant adjustments and movements is a big no-no.
- When zooming or panning, employ smooth, deliberately slow motions. This makes for easier video viewing.
- Observe the lighting conditions and take note of the light rating for a particular video camera.
- Being caught taking private investigation photos or video footage while on a stakeout or surveillance can be frustrating. To avoid this, do your best to keep things covert. This might sound tough, but it’s not. Using video cameras that are smaller along with still cameras is the way to go. A small video camera is less noticeable by people watching from afar. Covert still cameras look a lot different from regular cameras. Some fit into the palm of people’s hands while delivering 12-megapixel power resolution. Covert digital cameras come in all sorts of clever disguises – from pens to lighters to wristwatches and calculators. All these are great on-the-go devices for private eyes
- Try to keep up. Technology is always changing and as professional PIs, you’ve got to make sure your equipment can compete with the best of them. Subscribe to video and photography magazines so you’re aware of the latest investigating gadgets available
- Whenever possible, use a stabilizing pod or tripod. This can greatly improve videos taken. Don’t skimp when it comes to tripods. There are also specialized pods especially made for surveillance experts.
- When needed, use a telephoto lens. There are also still cameras that feature powerful telephoto lens that are designed for stability. These are perfect for long-range surveillance photo shoots.
- Get familiar with your camcorder and its various features so you’ll be able to use them. The key to taking great video footage is knowing all the functionalities of a camcorder.
- Make use of image stabilization.
- Continually hone your video-shooting skills through regular practice.
- Keep calm and breathe slowly while busy videotaping.
- Presentation counts. With most digital cameras, you’ll be able to imbed video frames or still photos you take into your investigation report to make it appear totally professional.
As a private investigator, you’ll be snooping around, verifying information and searching for leads. A good snoop will need to have more than just his trusty notepad and tape recorder to get the job done. Having quality video surveillance and photography equipment will ensure that you’ve always got your game on. Reliable investigative tools and gear won’t come cheap. But these are all necessary if you want to get the best shots and videos and ultimately survive in the PI business.
Hiring Private Eyes – What You Should Consider
Anyone who has decided to hire a private investigator has specific reasons for doing so. It could be to track down a long lost relative, or to find out if a spouse has been unfaithful, or it could be business-related. Whatever your reason, you should always be thorough when looking for your own private eye.
The guys over at Infoguys share a few tips and tidbits on what to look for when checking out possible investigators for your case.
The first thing to consider is licensing. There are many qualifications required for licensed private investigators, which make them more reliable and credible than those who are simply “freelancing.” Licensed private investigators have to reach a certain minimum age requirement, they should have a clean criminal history, and should have a good amount of credible experience on the field. These licensed PIs don’t simply earn the title, they also need to be recommended by at least three trusted names in the investigative field.
Although the next requirement is already included in licensing, anyone looking to hire a PI should look at the candidate’s experience. We’re all very familiar with the adage, “Experience is the best teacher,” and that is true in the field of private investigation. You don’t want your case ruined by a bumbling newbie in the field, right? While there are beginners who can do the job, it’s always better to go with someone who’s been on the field for a long time.
Don’t forget to ask your potential investigator about his specialty. It will help determine how much knowledge he will have about the case you’ll be presenting to him. It’s very rare to find a PI with a specialty, though, because today, it’s better to be knowledgeable about different fields than to tie yourself down to just one. Just the same, inquire about his experience in the kind of case that you have, and ask how he’ll go about the investigation.
Entrusting cases to a virtual stranger is no easy task. That’s why background checks and references should be included in your list of things to consider when you’re looking for your PI. However, getting background information on private eyes don’t involve normal background check procedures. This is because the M.G.L. has mandated a confidentiality agreement between investigators and their clients, which indicates that private investigators should never disclose information about their past clients. The best way to conduct a background check on these roving PIs is to call up the State Police Certification Unit. There, you can find out if anyone has ever lodged a complaint against your PI candidate.
Now that you know what to look for, you’re well on your way to hiring your amazing private eye!
Private Investigation and Phone Recordings
States and local jurisdictions each have their own set of rules when it comes to telephone recording as a tool for private investigation. If you’re looking to start a career in the PI business, you better brush up on private investigation-related state laws quick. Familiarity with the various legislations will clue you in on what’s acceptable and what isn’t. This way, if you’re ever asked to testify in court, you’re sure all the evidence you gather will be admissible and nothing will go to waste. Continue reading "Private Investigation and Phone Recordings"
Private investigators look cool, drive fancy cars and get the coolest girls in town. They use a bunch of high-tech gadgets and surveillance gizmos and can get out of any kind of sticky situation. If you buy into all that then you’ve probably been watching way too much television and 007 movies.
Detective work isn’t all fun and games. The whole thing is seldom glamorous, often involving hours spent stuck in the car doing surveillance activities, tailing people, researching documents, following leads and other unexciting tasks.
If you’re looking for old pals, want to find out if your mate is cheating or simply need to check out employees or tenants but don’t exactly have James Bond’s spy skills, a private eye agency is a viable option. There are plenty of private investigation agencies in the market. Finding a really good one could be tough. You have to know exactly where to look and what questions to ask.
The first people to approach when searching for a really good private investigation firm are your friends, business associates and lawyers. They can give you referrals on which agencies to consider and are excellent opportunities for asking specific questions regarding your needs.
One place to look is investigator associations’ websites. They usually post their membership directories. Most national private investigation orgs refer investigators. Check the legal organizations in your state for affiliates. The state defense bar is another good place to look. It has a directory of recommended PIs for you to choose from.
Insurance firms constantly use private investigation outfits too, so they’re another great resource, especially if you require background checks and surveillance. Talk to claims reps. A few inquiries will get you info on the investigators your insurance provider uses, and give you a good referral.
Flip through the Yellow Pages or surf the Net for private investigator listings. Ask around for references and find out if the PI firm is licensed. If you’re going to appear before a judge and/or jury, an investigator with courtroom experience is a must. There are investigators who aren’t familiar with certain laws and in the course of an investigation end up performing stuff that are illegal, which can cause you even more problems.
Before speaking to a private investigator, you’ve got to decide what you can afford. Explain the type of work you want done and ask them how much it’s going to cost. You’d also want to inquire about seeing examples of investigative reports they’ve done for cases similar to yours.
Assess your comfort level while speaking to each one. Once the investigation process is underway, effective communication will be crucial. Your chosen private eye might have other ideas on getting the info you want that could be worth exploring so do keep an open mind.
With the right private investigation agency, you’ll be on your way to getting the inside dirt on any person you want investigated. The only way to end up with one is to shop and shop around. If you do your homework, landing a private investigator that delivers the goods is a done deal.
How to Track Someone Down
In this modern age of technology, where everything can be accessed by a good internet connection, a thorough browser, and great internet skills, tracking someone down can be very easy. That’s why the option of hiring a professional private eye sometimes loses its charm. If you can do it yourself, why spend your hard-earned bucks on paying someone to do it for you?
Of course, you have to remember that tracking someone down takes precious time. So if you have the time and the energy, then go and knock yourself out!
The first thing you have to do is to have a place where you will put all the information that you find out about the person you’re investigating on. It always helps to be organized.
Now that you have a file for your investigation, take out a piece of paper and write down everything you know about your “target.” His or her full name, address, email address, phone number, birthdate, license plates, and every tiny bit of information that you know about the person. Don’t forget to include his or her relatives, and the places he or she regularly visits. These are also important, and may help you with your investigation later on.
Afterwards, pick up the phone book or dial directory assistance. Look for all the persons with the same surname as your target. Write each of these names, even those who don’t have the same first name. They might be relatives, and could provide useful information.
Now comes the exciting part. After you’ve gathered a lot of phone numbers, it’s time to pick up the phone and call them up. But before you do that, make sure you already have a story to tell them. You can’t just call up and ask about a person without a “valid” or acceptable reason. For this part, you will have to lie and be creative about your story. Don’t create something too farfetched and outrageous. Just drop some vague details, and let the other person make the necessary connections.
As for your story, make sure that you don’t pass yourself off as someone of authority. There are laws against pretending to a police officer or other law enforcement official, as well as government officials or lawyers. These are occupations that are off-limits to your made up story. Why don’t you just say that you’re an old friend from high school?
Those are the basic tips for tracking someone down. Aside from the phone book and directory assistance, you also have the internet and the many, many friends sites out there at your disposal. Good luck with your investigation!
It’s not enough that a private investigator have a nose for following useful leads. He has to have some investigation gadgets and gizmos at his disposal too. Successful private eyes need clever disguises, high-tech listening or spying devices and counter-surveillance equipment in order to get the inside scoop on anyone… Continue reading "Tools Private Investigators Use To Get The Job Done"
So you’re considering a career in private investigation. Well, you don’t have to jump in with both feet right away. You can work as a part-time private investigator and see how it feels first. Most private eyes who’ve been in the business for several years will tell you that a great deal of what they do involve surveillance activities from their cars. Cases they generally take in have to do with infidelity issues and insurance claims for (often) bogus injuries.
Top 10 Surveillance and/or Investigation Techniques
Don’t go into private investigation totally clueless. If all you know about private eye work you gained from watching detective shows and spy movies, do some more research. Read up on the subject and consult with pros that have been in the business for years.
Here’s a list of 10 investigation and/or surveillance techniques worth considering as a private investigator wannabe:
- The lack of moisture or dew on vehicles during the morning hours could indicate that they were moved sometime the previous night.
- You can find out if a residence is a multi- or single-family home by counting the number of electric meters.
- Minivans are perfect for undercover surveillance. Get one that has tinted glass so you can go sit in back unnoticed.
- When tailing someone in the city, stay close to the vehicle’s bumper, but allow one car between you to act as a buffer in slow-traffic areas.
- Verify that you’ve got the right address by checking the mailbox name or taking a peek at mail if some are sticking out.
- If the person you’re tailing stops at a house, drive past them and turn or park in an empty driveway to make it look like you belong in that area.
- Accurately measuring a person’s height might be tough, especially if you’re not supposed to let the other person know you’re watching them. Estimate the tailed person’s height by comparing it with that of whatever vehicle he gets into or exits from.
- Stakeouts can last several hours and happen in less-than-ideal conditions. You might find yourself stuck staking out someone in a place where there are no convenience stores nearby so always keep a couple of rolls of toilet paper in the car.
- Use voice recorders or pen and paper to take detailed notes. Be sure to write the date and times, the makes and plates of vehicles present, vehicular movements if any, people showing up and other data. Clear notes are extremely important for both you and the report you’re going to give your clients. As a private investigator, there might be instances wherein you’ll be asked to testify in court so notes accuracy is crucial.
- When taking videos, you’ll be stop-starting the camera multiple times. Create clear borders between video clips by putting your hand over the camera at the end of each recorded segment. See to it that the camera settings, specifically the time and date stamps, appear on the tape. Always take a panoramic shot of the vehicle and location. This is for purposes of verifying that the person in question was indeed there.
Private investigators spend a lot of time on surveillance. This usually involves hours of watching nothing happen, followed by brief seconds or minutes of pounding excitement. Make sure you make those small windows of adrenaline-pumping excitement pay off by using and following appropriate investigative methods and techniques.
How a Private Investigator Can Help You
Do you suspect your spouse of fooling around behind your back? Perhaps you’re being sued for personal injuries by some motorist and you want to make certain he or she is not faking it. Or maybe you’re looking for a partner to back you up financially, have several prospects listed but don’t really know anything about them. How can you be sure these people won’t scam you?
Your Own Child’s Private Eye
Today, more than ever, with the advent of the Internet, our children are greatly exposed to threats more than they were just over a decade ago. Parents are becoming more aware of these dangers and are becoming more concerned about how to really keep their children safe while maintaining a wholesome Internet environment. I think it’s now time for you, parents, to become your own private eye.
The benefits of becoming your own sleuth are countless. With the right training, you’ll be exposed to a lot of the industry’s ins and outs as well as updates needed to keep abreast with the growing concern of the safety of you children. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of training as a requisite to becoming an effective sleuth. After all, who better to keep track of your kids’ online activities but you?
What are the dangers online that could potentially harm your kids? Sexual exploitation tops the list. It’s very unfortunate that these days, perpetrators of online sexual offense are continuing their crimes as it’s becoming more difficult to apprehend them because of their crafty schemes. In fact, online predators are now becoming more cautious. Almost everyday you would read reports about people committing this awful crime to children.
Online bullying is now also becoming quite a fad. What was once the bane of many meek children at school is now stalking them even on their computers at home or on their mobile devices. Not only that, when not properly monitored and controlled, children could become victims to identity theft (remember the movie The Net?).
Once you decide to become your own private eye, you get a good grasp of the methodologies and awesome technologies to properly track your kids’ online activities, making sure they don’t get exposed to these threats. There are technologies out there that have helped parents around the world monitor their children’s online activities and control access to certain inappropriate sites.
Of course, do remember that parental guidance is still the best way to help kids have a fun and safe online world.