Guns, Gams & Gumshoes

A blog for PIs and writers/readers of the PI genre

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Answering Writers’ Questions: In TV Shows, Cops Welcome PIs Onto Crime Scenes – Is That Real?

Posted by Writing PIs on March 19, 2014

crime scene tape

Below are writers’ questions & our answers regarding the probability of a private investigator being allowed into an active crime scene investigation, and when an Internet site might be classified a crime scene.

WRITER’S QUESTION: It seems like I’ve seen crime scenes (with all that yellow tape) in TV shows and movies where cops invite a PI into the crime scene.  Or maybe the PI enters the crime scene and a cop will chat with the PI.  What I’m getting at, it comes across that cops will welcome PIs into their crime scenes sometimes.  Is this realistic?  If it’s not commonplace, is there a reason a cop might welcome a PI?

GUNS, GAMS, AND GUMSHOES’S ANSWER: Any police officer who allows a member of the public onto a crime scene is more than likely allowing the the entry because it serves the officer’s purpose.  The officer would not allow a member of the public into a crime scene in a situation where such presence would taint or pollute the crime scene.  Of course, police are much more careful about crime scenes now since the O.J. Simpson case.

Here’s a few hypothetical reasons a cop might allow/invite a PI onto a crime scene.  Maybe the PI was allowed by a court order to be on the crime scene.  Or maybe the cop wants the PI there to milk him for information.  This last reason plays out in other scenarios because police and private investigators both trade in information.

WRITER’S QUESTION: I’ve read where PIs were purchasing illegal products off some Internet selling site to bust a counterfeit operation.  They referred to the Internet site itself as a crime scene.  Could you explain what this meant?

GUNS, GAMS, AND GUMSHOES’S ANSWER: In any case involving counterfeiting or piracy, an essential element to be proven is the promise by the seller that the product is identical to the real, licensed product.  A website, or for the sake of an example let’s say eBay ad, that sells any counterfeit or pirated items, provides ample proof of fraudulent misrepresentations.  Therefore, the pictures and language of these websites/online ads become primary evidence of the intent to defraud, and are therefore crime scenes.

Colleen, on behalf of a law firm representing a major pharmaceutical company, once worked with a handful of other private investigators across the U.S. to investigate a counterfeit operation on eBay.  After several weeks of working undercover as customers, they were able to successfully retrieve evidence and identify the seller.  In this case, the eBay ad and the seller’s website also provided proof of fraudulent misrepresentations.

Have a great week, Writing PIs

Guns, Gams and Gumshoes’s Colleen Collins’s new fiction novella, The Ungrateful Dead, about a fictional private-eye team at a coroners’ conference is actually loosely based on our own experience being guest speakers at our state’s coroner’s conference — minus the murder mystery, of course. To go to book’s Amazon page, click on cover below or click here.

Click on cover to go to book's Amazon page

Click on cover to go to book’s Amazon page

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