Guns, Gams & Gumshoes

A defense attorney & PI who also happen to be writers

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Five Holiday Safety Tips

Posted by Writing PIs on December 8, 2015

Holiday Safety Tips (Image Licensed by Colleen Collins)

One of the Writing PIs, Shaun, is now a lawyer specializing in criminal defense, and the other Writing PI, Colleen, conducts legal investigations for his firm. As the holidays approach, our work load invariably picks up as more criminal cases come into our office. Sometimes on a festive evening, such as Christmas or New Year’s Eve, we’ll look at each other and say, “Wonder what’s happening tonight that brings in work over the next few weeks or months?” Notice we don’t say “Wonder if something will happen…”

Five Safety Tips

Below are a few safety tips to keep you and yours from hiring attorneys or private investigators over the next few weeks.

Tip #1: When you go shopping, lock your car. It sounds so simple, yet you’d be surprised at the number of people who forget to do this. People get preoccupied with shopping, holiday parties, who’s picking up Great-Aunt Sarah on Christmas Eve…and they forget to lock their car doors. That makes easy pickings for thieves looking through car windows —  if they see a package, it can be theirs within seconds. Several years ago, Sergeant Foley of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department claimed that nearly 50 percent of the car break-ins in his area were due to cars being left unlocked.

Tip #2: Park in well-lighted areas. Don’t tempt a thief by parking where there’s little or no lighting.

An unlocked door is an invitation to a criminal

Unlocked Doors Are Open Invitations to Criminals (Image Licensed by Colleen Collins)

Tip #3: Avoid parking on side streets. Vehicles parked on secluded side streets are easy prey for thieves. Also, with increased holiday traffic, and drivers preoccupied with cell phone conversations, passengers, or even eating while driving, your vehicle might be the victim of a hit-and-run.

Tip #4: Drink responsibly.

You Don't Want to Wear One of these Bracelets This Holiday

You Don’t Want to Wear One of These Bracelets This Holiday (Image Licensed by Colleen Collins)

Yeah, this sounds like one of those ads, but it is smart advice. Many of our criminal investigation cases involve people drinking too much and doing something stupid that they regret for years to come. Watch the other guy, too — is someone getting blitzed and out of control at a party? Be proactive and make sure he/she has a sober driver to take them home. Or call a taxi and pay the driver upfront for the person’s ride home, which might be the best holiday gift they get. Also if a party is getting out of control, it’s a good time to leave.

Tip #5: Be aware. Perhaps the best advice is to be aware and use common sense.  Don’t carry so many packages to your vehicle that you can’t quickly reach your cell phone or car keys. Shop in groups rather than alone. If you have a choice to shop during the day or at night, pick daylight hours. Don’t leave items visible in your car that might tempt a thief. Have fun at parties, but drink responsibly and avoid those who aren’t.

Wishing you a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season!

Click on image to go to Amazon page.

Pre-Order Sale 99 cents – Release December 14, 2015

A heartfelt, humorous, romantic-mystery story about a down-on-her-luck lawyer, a special agent visited by the past, and an arson dog named Maggie who join forces to rescue the holiday spirit!

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman. Please do not copy/distribute any images noted as copyrighted or licensed. Images noted as in the public domain are copyright-free and yours to steal.

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Writing a Private Eye, Bounty Hunter, Police Officer? Check Out These Online Magazines

Posted by Writing PIs on November 17, 2015

(Image licensed by Colleen Collins)

There’s some great online magazines that contain informative articles for professionals — they’re also excellent resources for writers crafting private investigators, police officers, bounty hunters, CSI experts and more.

Check out some of these online magazines:

Tickle the Wire: Tapping Into the Latest News in Federal Law Enforcement.

Evidence Technology Magazine: Focused exclusively on evidence collection, processing, and preservation, with topics covering the CSI effect, fingerprint technology, computer forensics, forensic DNA, and much more.

Pursuit Magazine: The magazine of professional investigators.

Collateral: A bail industry magazine that focuses on the bail bond industry, bail bond agents, sureties and the way they conduct business.

American Police Beat: A magazine and forum where law enforcement officers speak out about the issues affecting their personal and professional lives.

PIs, sheriffs & others conduct process service (image licensed by Colleen Collins)

PIs, sheriffs & others conduct process services (image licensed by Colleen Collins)

Serve Now: Not a magazine, but a handy resource for learning about process servers and their work.


 

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman. Please do not copy/distribute any images noted as copyrighted or licensed. Images noted as in the public domain are copyright-free and yours to steal.

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#BookExcerpt A Lawyer’s Primer for Writers: MY COUSIN VINNY

Posted by Writing PIs on November 7, 2015

illustration black and white gavel public domain

(Image is in the public domain)

In our nonfiction book A Lawyer’s Primer for Writers: From Crimes to Courtrooms, we dedicate a chapter to our ten favorite legal films, one being My Cousin Vinny (excerpt below).

In 1998, Joe Pesci, as Vincent LaGuardia Gambini, recorded the album Vincent LaGuardia Gambini Sings Just for You, which contains the song “Yo, Cousin Vinny.” The album cover shows Pesci in a red suit similar to the usher suit he wore in the film.

This was Fred Gwynne’s last film appearance. He died July 2, 1993.


My Cousin Vinny (1992)

Starring Joe Pesci, Marisa Tomei and Fred Gwynne. A humorous courtroom drama where rough-around-the-edges New York lawyer Vincent LaGuardia “Vinny” Gambini (played by Pesci), fresh out of law school, is asked by his nephew and his nephew’s friend to save them from wrongful murder charges in a “redneck” Alabama court system.

Earlier in the book, we discussed opening statements. Here’s Vinny’s:

Everything that guy just said is bullshit. Thank you.

Fans of Vinny: From Lawyers to a Supreme Court Judge

Although Vinny isn’t always a shining example of courtroom etiquette, the movie has been praised by lawyers for adhering to the realities of courtroom procedure and trial strategy. And although Vinny’s style isn’t what one might call polished, he exudes raw trial-lawyer talent in how he conducts interviews and gathers facts.

When the American Bar Association (ABA) journal invited lawyers to vote for their favorite fictional lawyers, Vinny Gambini ranked number twelve, with lawyers admiring Vinny’s technically correct, and at times very clever, courtroom maneuvers.

At the Beasley School of Law, Temple University, law professor JoAnne Epps has told her law students that of all the legal films they could watch, the one they had to watch was My Cousin Vinny because it best portrays the realities of trial, from tight budgets to tetchy judges.

US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia even cited My Cousin Vinny as an example of the principle that a client can choose his own lawyer.

Courtroom No-Nos

The movie isn’t without a few legal bloopers, such as Vinny being the defense lawyer for both defendants, which is a conflict of interest.

Then, when a public defender is brought in, his nervousness causes him to stutter so much that he is nearly incoherent, making him ineffective. Doesn’t make sense that a public defenders’ office, which must be aware that one of its lawyers suffers horribly from stage fright, would assign him to a trial, thus jeopardizing the rights of the accused.

Courtroom Pluses

Nits aside, there is much to learn by watching this entertaining movie, including Vinny’s:

– Preparation of case theory

– Cross-examinations that reveal witnesses’ vulnerabilities

– “Legal thinking in the complexity of actual law practice” (quote by law professor Alberto Bernabe, The John Marshall Law School).

End of Excerpt

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman. Please do not copy/distribute any images noted as copyrighted or licensed. Images noted as in the public domain are copyright-free and yours to steal.


Click on image to go to Amazon page

Click on image to go to Amazon page

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Gmail Keyboard Shortcuts Cheat Sheet

Posted by Writing PIs on October 15, 2015

In Gmail, some keyboard shortcuts are on by default, while others need to be enabled to use them (Google provides lists of what’s on & what’s off here: Keyboard Shortcuts for Gmail).

To use the below shortcuts, you’ll need to first enable the “off” shortcuts in your Gmail (go to Settings and select Keyboard shortcuts on).

Below shortcuts are for the Mac. For a pdf of PC shortcuts, click here.

Gmail Keyboard Shortcuts Cheat Sheet

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A Ransomware True Story and Cyber-Security Tips

Posted by Writing PIs on October 6, 2015

cybersecurity computer desk licensed shutterstock

It’s Relatively Easy to Set Up Cyber-Security on Your Computer (image licensed by Colleen Collins)

October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, a good time to review safety measures for protecting our online lives. Unfortunately, it’s not just large businesses and online sites that are victimized by cyber-criminals — it happens to individuals, too, which recently happened to someone we know.

Cyber-Criminals Hacked Into a Writer’s Computer

One Click Opened Her Computer to a Cyber-Criminal (image licensed by Colleen Collins)

One Click Opened Her Computer to a Cyber-Criminal (image licensed by Colleen Collins)

One of the Guns, Gams and Gumshoes has a writer-friend whose computer was recently hacked by cyber-criminals who blocked her access to all files on her hard-drive. A horrible situation as she was nearing the end of finishing a novel and could no longer access any of the book files.

The cyber-criminals demanded a ransom if she wanted access to her files again. Hoping her computer-tech shop could find a way to get her files back, she took in her computer for analysis. Unfortunately, they could do nothing, only verify that her hard drive had been locked by “ransomware.”

Ransom Kept Increasing

Meanwhile, every day the cyber-criminals increased the ransom. With a heavy heart, she paid the ransom, and access to her files was returned. She immediately bought a new computer, a different brand, and her tech-computer shop helped set up her files along with stronger cyber-security.

One Click and the Cyber-Hacker Was In

Sadly, cyber-criminals gained access to her computer via her clicking on a single link in an email she thought was sent by a close friend. A reminder to all of us to never click on a link in an email, or other electronic communication, before verifying your friend/associate/whomever was the sender.

Six Ways to Safeguard Your Computer

(image licensed by Colleen Collins)

(image licensed by Colleen Collins)

Guns, Gams and Gumshoes’s Shaun Kaufman, a criminal lawyer, shares these six tips for protecting your computer (via shaunkaufmanlaw.com):

  1. Maintain updated computer software & apps. Setting up automatic updates is ideal because if you or your webmaster is logging in to update software/apps, that means there were bugs present prior to the update, and bugs = vulnerabilities.
  2. Download from official sites only. There’s a lot of free stuff available for download on the Internet, but you can end up downloading a lot of problems along with that freebie app, program, whatever. Therefore, download from official sites only. It’s also a good idea to be conservative in the number of downloads, too.
  3. Create unique passwords with upper & lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. I know, you’ve probably heard this password warning a gazillion times, but making passwords easy to guess, or using the same password across multiple sites, invites a cyber-criminal to pay a visit. Some people say you shouldn’t use a password manager as some are fraudulent. I don’t use a password manager, nor do I have any idea which ones might be corrupted, so I’ll leave that topic for you to further research.
  4. Cover your computer camera. I just read about this security measure the other day. Seems hackers have taken over people’s computer cameras without their knowledge (with no light indicators alerting the users, either). I can see the reasoning behind this — for example, you’re speaking to someone on your phone about a confidential business manner while you’re at your computer, that dialogue could be captured by cyber-criminals. Even if the audio isn’t captured, the computer user is so close to the camera, lip-reading could be easy. Covering the camera with a piece of tape is easy to do. Then remove the tape when you want to use the camera.
  5. Use encryption software. This site ranks the top encryption software products and their prices:10TopTenReviews: 2015 Best Encryption Software Review
  6. Backups. Regularly back up your files — especially those book files, writers! –and store them offline.  (Thanks, @Mededitor)

Additional Resources

Stay Safe Online: Tips for keeping a clean computer, protecting your personal files and more.

Homeland Security: Events, tips and related links for National Cyber Security Awareness Month

FBI Website: Cyber-criminal facts, FBI’s cyber-threat investigations and additional resources


All rights reserved by Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman. Please do not copy/distribute any images noted as copyrighted or licensed. Images noted as in the public domain are copyright-free and yours to steal.

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October 2, 2015 Wrongful Conviction Day: Articles and Videos

Posted by Writing PIs on October 2, 2015

Old Jail Cell on Route 66, Arizona, by Carol Highsmith (photo is in the public domain)

Old Jail Cell on Route 66, Arizona, by Carol Highsmith (photo is in the public domain)

Today, Oct 2, is Wrongful Conviction Day, an international day that recognizes those convicted for crimes they didn’t commit, their families and their advocates. It is a day devoted to educating the public about the causes, consequences and complications associated with wrongful convictions.

Articles and Videos

Wrongful Conviction Day – Videos: Interviews and speech excerpts with those falsely convicted for crimes they didn’t commit, including:

  • John Artis, co-accused and wrongly convicted with Rubin Hurricane Carter in 1966 and released from prison in 1981.
  • Sunny Jacobs & Peter Pringle, each wrongly convicted for crimes they didn’t commit. After being exonerated, they met at a talk Sunny Jacobs gave about her ordeal, which included her living in solitary for years. They fell in love, married, and now live in Canada, “at peace” with their past.

Barry Scheck Answers Questions About Wrongful Convictions (by Crime Traveller)

Resurrection, the story of Robert “Rider” Dewey who spent 17 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit (5280 Magazine)

At Defrosting Cold Cases, cold case blogger and human rights defender Alice de Sturler writes about the wrongful conviction of William Thomas Zeigler.

California Steps Up for the Wrongly Convicted Governor Jerry Brown signed into law California Senate Bill 618, which provides much-needed changes to the crippled compensation process for the wrongly convicted (California Innocence Project)


All rights reserved by Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman. Please do not copy/distribute any images noted as copyrighted or licensed. Images noted as in the public domain are copyright-free and yours to steal.

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Investigating Crime Scenes: Police vs. Private Investigators

Posted by Writing PIs on September 27, 2015

crime scene tape

Crime scene tape (image licensed by Colleen Collins)

When we opened our private investigations agency in 2003, one of us (Shaun) had nearly two decades experience as a criminal trial lawyer who had litigated many felony cases, including several high-profile homicide cases. During that time, he also trained numerous legal investigators. Our early clients were seasoned criminal lawyers who respected his knowledge and insights into criminal law and investigations.

One hired us for our very first case: Investigating a crime scene (a bar) where a homicide had occurred.

Live vs. Cold Crime Scenes

This crime scene wasn’t “live” — signifying the crime is recent and guarded by law enforcement — but a “cold” crime scene,  meaning law enforcement had completed their investigation and since released the crime scene to the public. In our case, the crime scene had been released five months earlier. This was the first of numerous cold crime scenes we investigated over the years.

Don’t Assume Cold Crime Scenes Lack Evidence

(Image licensed by Colleen Collins)

Cold crime scenes may contain overlooked evidence (image licensed by Colleen Collins)

At the end of this article are links to articles about PIs and crime scenes, several describing cases we solved based on evidence found in cold scenes. In one, we found physical evidence that had been overlooked months earlier when the scene was live. That evidence proved a man was not guilty of two counts attempted homicide. Without that evidence, he faced a possible 48 years in prison if found guilty.

Physical Evidence Is King

In some crimes there are no witnesses, and in the absence of self-incriminating statements by a suspect, the only means of obtaining a conviction may be through physical evidence, such as:

  • Evidence with viable DNA
  • A blood sample, a fingerprint, and so forth.

In any crime, sharing knowledge of physical evidence with suspects may loosen tongues and stimulate confessions. DNA, fingerprints, or serological evidence are tough to debate and bring many criminals to a place where their lips move easily. Simply put, physical evidence is king.

Police vs. PIs: Deception in Investigations

Interestingly enough, private investigators work under a burden created by ethical constraints that police detectives do not labor under.

While courts have consistently held that police may lie to a suspect to stimulate a confession without tainting that confession (we once saw this in an episode of The Closer), very few private investigators can credibly present statements obtained by deceptive means. By “very few” we mean in the few instances where the PI has investigated an individual who is extremely unsavory or has committed a particularly heinous act, then jurors are more likely to trust the PI’s statements even if the PI lied to obtain them. Great fodder for a story.

Crime Affects Search + Evidence

Bullet casings (image licensed by Colleen Collins)

In a crime scene, the area searched and the evidence sought will depend on the crime under investigation. In crimes of violence, the crime scene tells the detective what happened, but the detective must also read the signs left by the evidence. Signatures of crime include:

  • Fingerprints
  • Blood stains
  • Bullet slugs, bullet holes
  • Tool marks
  • Fibers, hairs, fingernail scrapings
  • Glass fragments
  • DNA samples
  • Items added, overturned, removed or displaced.

Suspects = Part of a Crime Scene

Keep in mind that the suspect is also part of the crime scene. What does he leave at the crime scene and what does he take away from the scene? Such evidence helps to prove that he was there. If the police take him back to the crime scene after his arrest, the evidence of his presence at the scene, when presented in testimony in the courtroom, may serve only to prove that the police took him there. This may cause your fictional PI to think twice before taking a possible suspect to a crime scene.

Police vs. PIs: Different Views of Crime Scenes

US Army CID agents at crime scene (image is in public domain)

US Army CID agents at crime scene (image is in public domain)

It’s important to make the distinction between what crime scene investigators for the police consider a crime scene, and what the rest of us, including PIs, consider a crime scene. In the latter instance, a crime scene is really just the place where a crime happened, which has returned to everyday use.

On the other hand, what police and crime scene investigators consider a crime scene is that area where, such as the space inside the yellow tape, careful protocols for evidence recordation and extraction are followed.

Related Articles

Private Investigators and Crime Scene Investigations, Part I (Colleen Collins Books)

Private Investigators and Crime Scene Investigations, Part II (Colleen Collins Books)

Top 5 Mistakes Writers Make at Crime Scenes (Novel Rocket – Two homicide detectives and Writing PIs (a criminal lawyer & PI) talk about writers’ top blunders when depicting crime scenes.

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. Please do not copy/distribute any images noted as copyrighted or licensed. Images noted as in the public domain are copyright-free and yours to use.

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A Tribute to James Garner’s Iconic Private Eye Jim Rockford

Posted by Writing PIs on September 13, 2015

James Garner as Jim Rockford (L) in THE ROCKFORD FILES (image is in public domain)

James Garner as Jim Rockford (L) in THE ROCKFORD FILES (image is in public domain)

Below is a post I wrote a year ago, July 2014, after learning that James Garner had passed away. What a terrific actor, often playing the cool, good-natured, witty anti-hero. Funny that he played the anti-hero so well, when in real life he was a hero. Two Purple Hearts after being wounded, twice, during the Korean War.

The below article contains links to my/our various articles over the years either about, or containing references to, James Garner’s one-and-only Jim Rockford, private eye, in The Rockford Files. (I’ve corrected links to articles that were updated since initial postings.)

James Garner as PI Rockford (R) in photo still from THE ROCKFORD FILES (image is in public domain)

James Garner as PI Rockford (R) in photo still from THE ROCKFORD FILES (image is in public domain)

Remembering James Garner’s Jim Rockford

July 2014

Today we’re sharing some articles in which we referenced one of our favorite private eye characters, Jim Rockford, from the ’74-’80 TV show The Rockford Files. Below are those posts, along with excerpts:

The Rockford Files: Magical Surveillances In A Gold ’78 Firebird (from colleencollinsbooks.com)

I’m a huge fan of the old TV series The Rockford Files, staring one of my all-time favorite actors James Garner — in fact, my husband and I own the entire series on DVD.  But gotta say, how’d he pull off all those surveillances in a shiny gold Firebird?

Magic.

Pretexting: Okay for Jim Rockford, But Not Always for Real-Life P.I.s (from Guns, Gams and Gumshoes)

We own the complete DVD set of the The Rockford Files TV show that ran from 1974-1980.  Love James Garner in that show as the droll, I’d-rather-be-fishing private eye Jim Rockford.  He kept his gun in a cookie jar and carried around a printing device so he could quickly imprint a business card with a bogus ID whenever necessary…

James Garner, 1959, as Bret Maverick, the role that made him famous (image is in public domain)

James Garner, 1959, as Bret Maverick, the role that made him famous (image is in public domain)

Realistically Portrayed Private Eyes in Books and Film (from Guns, Gams and Gumshoes)

(Among our answers was Jim Rockford)

We love a lot of PI genre fiction, both in books and other media, although too often books, TV shows and films add flash and drama to make the PI protagonist seem bigger and badder than how he/she might really be in the real world. For example, searching public records is a cornerstone of a private investigator’s skill set, but it’s pretty tedious work, hardly worthy of a TV show.

Do All Private Eyes Carry Concealed Handguns? (from Guns, Gams and Gumshoes)

In the writers’ classes we’ve taught on private investigations, this question has come up a lot. In those great old noir films, seems every shamus carried one and used it freely. Then along came Jim Rockford from the TV show The RockFord Files), and that easy-going, beach-loving PI preferred to keep his gun in a cookie jar rather than carry it.

Have a good week, Writing PIs

fedora black and white

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. Please do not copy/distribute any images noted as copyrighted or licensed. Images noted as in the public domain are copyright-free and yours to steal.

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Three Tips for Conducting a Reverse Phone Number Lookup

Posted by Writing PIs on September 5, 2015

(Image licensed by Colleen Collins)

There’s lots of ads out there for free phone look-ups — often what you get is some free information (such as the possible geographical location of the phone carrier), then they ask you to “click here” and for $1.95 or $34.95 (prices vary), you can get the full report on this person.

Buyer beware.

There’s no magical 100% correct database out there that’ll spit out the latest and greatest information associated with a phone number. We’re not saying you can’t get correct information. You might. But you, the buyer, should know that you are paying for information that could be outdated, input incorrectly into a database, or the phone number might have been correct at one time but has since been ported to a new carrier.

Saying all that, here are three tips to conduct a reverse check on a phone number:

Type a phone number in Google for a quick reverse number search (Image licensed by Colleen Collins)

Type a phone number in Google for a quick reverse number search (image licensed by Colleen Collins)

Tip #1: Run the phone number in Google. Google remains the most comprehensive, free public search engine. Search results reflect every document, website, blog, resume, ad (such as Craigslist), and other online places where that phone number displays.

We once found a person who was on the run by conducting a reverse cell phone number search in Google. Although she had disconnected her cell phone service, that number was still listed on her MySpace site, which she had kept public (not private), meaning anyone could read her comments. Although she had worked to cover her tracks, she was taking the time every day to log into her MySpace account and chat with friends. And we were taking the time every day to read where she’d eaten lunch, what time of day she drove into a certain town, what motel she was staying at, and more.

Tip #2: Check the carrier, geographical region for the number. There are sites that offer free checks for type of phone line, carrier, and geographical region of the phone number. One site is Phone Validator, another is SpyDialer, the latter also offering options to hear the person’s voicemail message and look up the phone owner’s name and photo.

Again, keep in mind that the information returned is only as good as the database, and there’s no guarantee how recently the information has been updated. For example, I just ran my personal cell phone number in SpyDialer, and although it got my first name correct, it displayed a photo of what appeared to be a restaurant along with a man’s name. Perhaps he (or the business) had this number before me.

Tip #3: Hire a private investigator.  A qualified PI is experienced at digging for information and can interpret its accuracy or legality. To find a PI in your area, contact the professional investigators’ association for your state: Private Investigator Associations by State (PINow.com).

Related Article

Last winter, Shaun (now a criminal lawyer), cross-examined an investigator during a trial. Key to the case was the owner of a cell phone found at an apartment. The investigator said it belonged to the guy whose bedroom he found it in. Problem was, there were multiple bedrooms and roommates at this residence, with recent parties in the apartment attended by others, so deciding ownership solely on where the phone was left was flimsy evidence. Shaun then asked the investigator if he’d run a reverse on the phone. That story is here:

Investigator Takes the Stand: Tales from a Trial

Have a great weekend, Writing PIs

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman. Any use of the content (including images owned or licensed by Colleen Collins and/or Shaun Kaufman) requires specific, written authority. Any photos noted as being in the public domain are copyright-free and yours to steal.

Coming Soon: How Do Private Eyes Do That? (Second Edition)Collins_HowDoPrivateEyesDoThat BLOG ONLINE PR 800

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Do All PIs Carry Concealed Handguns?

Posted by Writing PIs on August 22, 2015

In movies and books, private eyes often carry handguns (image licensed by Colleen Collins)

In the writers’ classes we’ve taught on private investigations, this question has come up a lot. In those great old noir films, seems every shamus carried one and used it freely. Then along came Jim Rockford from the TV show The RockFord Files, and that easy-going, beach-loving PI preferred to keep his gun in a cookie jar rather than carry it.

We used to stash a stun gun under the front seat of our car, otherwise we don’t own or use any guns, and we know many PIs who don’t carry as well.

Private Eye Characters and Guns

A few years ago, there was a best-selling novel starring a junior PI (she’d just started work in her relative’s PI agency) and she carried a Glock in her glove compartment. The premise of the story was that her relative couldn’t trust her to take on any serious investigative jobs, so she’d been relegated to background checks and hunting down an occasional cheating spouse — and for those jobs, she carried a Glock? For us, that seriously stretched the story’s believability.

Making It Realistic

But many fictional PIs do carry firearms, and if the author makes it credible, it makes for a great read. There was a book out a few years back that starred a PI who had lost her license, and on top of that, she had a felony rap in her background. She carried a gun, but she knew she’d be in deep you-know if that became common knowledge, so she took great care to hide the fact (of course, she got caught and tossed into jail when it was found). The story was plausible because it reflected reality.

Another female fictional PI who carried a gun: Robert Parker’s female PI Sunny Randall. A former cop with grit and smarts, it’s plausible and nail-biting when Sunny pulls out a rifle and blasts the bad-guy as he trespasses her front door, leaving a bloody crime scene in her own living room.

Just keep in mind that under the conditions any real-life PI would legally carry a firearm, so would a fictional PI.

In The Rockford Files, Jim Rockford (R, played by James Garner) kept his gun in a cookie jar (image is in public domain)

Keep in mind, too, that in the real world armed PIs rarely (if ever) get into the kind of gunplay seen in fiction. Many PIs will tell you that if gunplay or a fight breaks out, it indicates an investigator isn’t doing her job well.  When a surprised client asked PI Jim Rockford why he wasn’t carrying a gun, he said, “Because I don’t want to shoot anybody.” After all, the primary guiding forces for any investigator are stealth and discretion.

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman. Any use of the content (including images owned or licensed by Colleen Collins and/or Shaun Kaufman) requires specific, written authority. Any photos noted as being in the public domain are copyright-free and yours to steal.

Posted in Concealed Weapons | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Do All PIs Carry Concealed Handguns?

 
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