Guns, Gams & Gumshoes

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PIs Obtaining Proof: Seeing Isn’t Always Believing

Posted by Writing PIs on July 9, 2010

What a PI sees needs to be backed up with evidence (proof) to demonstrate that what was seen is the truth. Most of the time, compiling evidence requires assembling it from multiple sources. We’ll give examples of this in the below scenarios of a PI assembling proof for two different kinds of cases.

Case 1: A PI is hired to find proof a spouse is cheating

surveillanceIn this type of case, a single photograph can do the trick. But what if a PI takes a photo of the alleged philandering spouse hugging a co-worker after a company meeting, and shows that to the wife as evidence of the husband’s cheating? It might look as though he’s cheating, but it takes the secondary level of investigation to verify or debunk the wife’s suspicions.

A smart PI can obtain secondary evidence through photos from different angles/locales, interviews with subjects who witnessed the infidelity (such as bartenders, etc.), even an interview with the paramour (which we once did in a case — she was a bit surprised, but she admitted she’d been fooling around with the philandering husband we were investigating. She was all the more willing to speak with us after she learned about the photos we had taken of her tryst with Mr. Philandering).

Case 2: A PI is hired to document shrinkage from an employer

Let’s say a PI wears a covert camera and spends the afternoon surreptitiously videotaping activity at a store where the owner thinks a certain employee is stealing merchandise. Let’s say the PI captures that employee carrying a box outside the store and setting it inside the back of a friend’s SUV.

Isn’t seeing believing?  Isn’t that one segment of video tape enough?

Sure, it could be that the employee just put stolen merchandise in the back of a pal’s SUV. But the smart PI will next go after secondary evidence, such as store receipts that show the employee did or did not make that particular purchase, any recorded conversations (that don’t qualify as eavesdropping, say the employee is chatting with a pal in the middle of an aisle) that document the employee planning a theft. Additional secondary evidence the PI might provide the owner is a background check on the employee that shows if the employee is having financial problems, a past history of drug issues or crimes of dishonesty. You’d be surprised how many employers don’t run adequate background checks, if any at all.

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman. Any use of the content (including images owned by Colleen Collins and/or Shaun Kaufman) requires specific, written authority.


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