Guns, Gams & Gumshoes

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Is the Private Eye Going the Way of the Dinosaur?

Posted by Writing PIs on February 4, 2011

In today’s world where everyone Googles, tweets, posts, emails, YouTubes, webcams and more, when nanny cams capture illegal activities, and downloaded videos on YouTube reveal undercover scams…what’s the purpose of hiring a private investigator?  Has the private eye gone the way of the Stegosaurus?


Actually, the private eye has evolved right along with our fast-paced, electro-digital world. Even some of those tried-and-true techniques that Sam Space employed on the silver screen — following someone on foot, tailing in a car — are still “tools of the trade” best left to a professional private eye.  Let’s look at a few reasons why private eyes are needed today more than ever.

1. Private eyes understand the court system. You’re dating someone, want to know if something dark is lurking in his or her background? You want to hire someone, but want to make sure the candidate isn’t a felon?  You can go down to the courthouse yourself, but do you know what to look for?  Do you even know which courthouse to go to?  Private eyes do. They understand which municipality, county, federal district or state a person’s criminal records might be housed. And when they get there, they know how to order records, how to read them…and better yet, how to read between the lines. You say you can order these same records for $19.95 from one of those snazzy online databases?  Can I sell you a bridge?  The most accurate, relevant criminal histories are at courthouses, period.

2. Private eyes are specialists. Gone are the days of the generalist.  Oh, a few private eyes advertise they do general investigations, but most specialize in a field. You want to know if someone’s downloaded spyware onto your cell phone? There’s private eyes who specialize in cell phone forensics. You’ve just hired an attorney to represent your case for trial — there’s private eyes who specialize in legal investigations and understand how to prepare evidence, interview witnesses, and other tasks for trial. You lost your dog?  There’s private eyes who’re pet detectives.

3. Private eyes understand what’s legal, what’s not. All but 5 states require a private eye to be licensed, and licensure involves private eyes passing exams that prove their knowledge of the statutes affecting their work. Just because you think it’s cheaper and easier to hire your buddy to conduct surveillance on your almost-ex-wife, doesn’t mean your buddy understands which surveillance activities constitute eavesdropping, trespassing, harassment, or other legal no-nos. In our state, a husband was up on felony charges for surveilling his own wife — he didn’t understand he was breaking the law. In the long run, it’s cheaper, easier and smarter to hire a professional private eye.

Dinosaurs may have gone extinct, but the private eye is here to stay, baby.

Have a great weekend, Writing PIs

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