Guns, Gams & Gumshoes

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

  • Writing a Sleuth?

    A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths

    "How to Write a Dick is the best work of its kind I’ve ever come across because it covers the whole spectrum in an entertaining style that will appeal to layman and lawmen alike."

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Posts Tagged ‘Secrets of a Real-Life Female Private Eye by Colleen Collins’

Writing a Female Private Eye Character? This List Is for You!

Posted by Writing PIs on July 8, 2015

Featured on LowKeyPI.com - 70 Influential Female Private Investigators on Twitter

Half of the Writing PIs, Colleen, learned recently that she’s ranked #3 on a list of 70 influential female private investigators in the industry and on Twitter. She’s honored for the mention.

Writing a Female PI Character?

Lists like these are also great resources for writers wanting to learn more about the real world of PIs, especially the work of women in the field. If you’re on Twitter, check out these Twitter accounts and read about the day-to-day work of female investigators, articles on the profession written by women PIs, and more:

Article link: 70 Influential Female Private Investigators on Twitter

Being a Woman in a Male-Dominated Field

At times it makes a difference being a female in the profession. For example, a client might feel more comfortable working with a female PI, or the case demands a woman, such as the time Colleen took a pole-dancing class to surveil a class member for a case. (After spending a few days in bed with a heating pad, Colleen now has great respect for pole dancers.) Otherwise, Colleen says,”I’ve always been treated like an equal by my peers, be they male or female.”

Articles About Female Private Detectives

Below are a few articles about real-life female PIs:

What Is It Like Being a Female Private Investigator? (thezenman.com)

The Undercover World of the Female Private Investigator (Daily Record)

International Women’s Day: Honoring Female Investigators (Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes)

The First U.S. Female Private Eye: Kate Warne (thezenman.com)

“Women are much better private detectives” (The Guardian)

Article about a “modern Day Miss Marple” who runs an all-female detective agency (Daily Mail)

Have a great week, Writing PIs

To go to book's Amazon page, click on cover

To go to book’s Amazon page, click on cover

Posted in History of the PI, Private Eyes in the News, Secrets of a Real-Life Female Female Private Eye | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off on Writing a Female Private Eye Character? This List Is for You!

Our Top 10 Private Investigations Posts in 2013

Posted by Writing PIs on December 21, 2013

At the end of each year, we like to post our readers’ favorite top 10 posts.  Below is our 2013 Top 10 list, starting with #10.

Top 10 Posts

#10 Private Detective Couples in Fiction and Real LifeMyrna Loy and William Powell 1

#9 Marketing the Private Investigations Business (We wrote this in 2009, but a lot of the tips still hold true)

#8 Private Eye Writers of America Shamus Awards Finalists 2013 (Great list of private eye genre books – check ’em out!)

#7 No, Stephanie Plum Isn’t a Private Eye, She’s a Bounty Hunter

#6 What’s the Importance of a Crime Scene? crime scene tape

#5 Secrets of a Real-Life Female Private Eye – The Violent Side of Process Services  (This is an excerpt from Guns, Gams and Gumshoes’s Colleen Collins’s book Secrets of a Real-Life Female Private Eye)

#4 How to Conduct a Trash Hit – A Private Eye’s Dumpster Secrets (This post pops up on our top ten lists year after year)trash hit man in dumpster

#3 Best of 2012: Our 7 Favorite Private Investigator Sites (We’ll be compiling our favorite P.I. sites for 2013 soon, too)

#2 Can You Put a GPS on My Boyfriend’s Car? 

#1 Private vs. Public Investigators: What’s the Difference? (This post has been #1 in our top readers’ favorites for several years running!)

Thank you, readers, for dropping by our site!  Wishing you and yours a happy, safe holiday season, Writing PIs

The Writing PIs

The Writing PIs

Posted in 2013 Shamus Award, Attaching GPS's, Bounty Hunters, Importance of Crime Scenes, Public vs Private Investigators, Real-Life Private Investigator Stories | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Our Top 10 Private Investigations Posts in 2013

During the Holidays, People Turn to PIs to Help Find Missing Relatives

Posted by Writing PIs on December 19, 2013

border ornaments

The holidays are a time of celebrating with friends and family, a time when people often grow nostalgic about those with whom they’ve lost contact.  Sometimes people try to look up missing loved ones on the Internet (who aren’t always missing, by the way — sometimes their contact information fell through the cracks years ago), but there’s little or no information about their whereabouts online.

Online Detective Sites: Save Your Money

If you’ve been searching for contact information for a missing loved one on the Internet, and eye and magnifying glassyou’re only finding out-of-date addresses and phone numbers, resist the urge to pay an online detective site. A lot of their Internet ads promise to locate people for $19.95, $24.95, or more, but unless that person has stayed put, living in the same residence for at least two or more years, those Internet databases probably aren’t going to help you. Instead, you’ll end up paying good money for old, wrong or irrelevant information.  Unfortunately, if you have a question about the search results, there’s no live person to help you out.

Hiring a P.I. to Find Someone

Often, a qualified private investigator can locate a person efficiently and quickly.  Of course, there’s a lot of different variables that come into play when trying to locate a person — it can be more difficult to find someone, for example, if they have a very common name (e.g., Jane Smith), or there’s scant data about the individual, or the person has taken steps to not be found, etc.

One avenue of research P.I.s use to find people is through proprietary databases. But there’s more to their use than simply plugging a name or other identifier into them — an experienced P.I. is skilled at sifting through search results (sometimes reams of it), pinpointing relevant data, and often using it as a basis for further research.

What Are Proprietary Databases?

These are privately owned, password-protected online databases that are not available to the public. The proprietary databases we use cull their information from many different public records.  We once asked a customer rep if she knew exactly what public records her proprietary database pulled from, and she said, “There’s so many, it’d take me a day to tell you just some of them.”  One proprietary database advertises they pull from billions of public records.

Our proprietary database companies’ clientele includes private investigators, law enforcement, law firms, collection agencies and others who are professionally qualified. All clients of such databases, including the authors of this blog, have gone through background checks by these companies before they are allowed to access information in the databases.

Researching Public Records

Writing PIs: A Couple of Private Eyes Who Also WriteA qualified P.I. is also knowledgeable about searching public records, many of which are online, to locate someone. Below are a few examples of such public records:

County assessors’ sites.  These contain lists of owners of real property, along with information about the assessed value of that property

Privately owned cemeteries and mortuaries.  Here can be found burial permits, funeral service registers, funeral and memorial arrangements, obituaries, intermediate orders and perpetual care arrangements.

Court records. In reviewing these, a P.I. might find addresses, phone numbers, relatives’ names, places of employment, and more.

Additional means a P.I. might use to locate a person are through interviews, Internet research, investigating social media, surveillances and trash hits (searching garbage).

How a P.I. Handles Others’ Expectation of Privacy

If you contact a P.I. to help you find a missing relative, keep in mind that a professional investigator won’t simply hand over the found person’s private contact information to you.  Instead, after the P.I. locates the relative/loved one, the investigator will:

  • Inform the found person (through a phone call, letter or in person) that he/she has been hired to locate them by a client, and provide that person’s name.
  • Provide means for the found person to locate the client (through a phone number, address, email address, etc.).

These precautions are critical to protect others’ privacy. Unfortunately, there have been cases where criminals and others with questionable motives have hired P.I.s to find people.

Initial Screenings of Clientshat and magnifying glass on computer

Prior to accepting your case, a P.I. will likely conduct an initial screening to verify your identity, review your criminal background and check the legitimacy of your request.  You’d want the same privacy protection and options if someone was wanting to locate you.

It’s our experience that most “missing” family members are delighted to have been found by their loved ones.  And it’s rewarding to the investigator to have brought families together again.

Guns, Gams and Gumshoes’s Colleen Collins wrote about a particularly difficult “locate” in her article “Hired to Find a Long-Lost Love: A Case with a Surprise Ending.”

Happy Holidays, Writing PIs

To go to book's Amazon page, click on cover

To go to book’s Amazon page, click on cover

Posted in During the holidays, people turn to PIs to find lost relatives | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off on During the Holidays, People Turn to PIs to Help Find Missing Relatives

Answering Writer’s Question: Suspicious Death and a Missing Will

Posted by Writing PIs on October 15, 2013

eye and magnifying glass

As private investigators, we’ve investigated several cases where there has been a suspicious transfer of estate property after a death.  As Shaun, one of the Guns, Gams & Gumshoes’s authors, has returned to the practice of law, his background ties into our answer as well.

WRITER’S QUESTION: My question is with regards to access to information. In my story, a woman has died under suspicious circumstances, and the police officer investigating the case has been unable to find a will on the premises or any indication of who the deceased’s lawyer might be, and the case is closed. Later, the officer hears some rumors about the will that leads him to believe he shouldn’t have closed the investigation. He wants to see the will and finally finds the name of the lawyer holding it, and discusses his concerns with him, but the lawyer refuses to share any information.

Unfortunately, the officer’s supervisor doesn’t want to re-open the case. So my questions are: If the officer convinced his supervisor to re-open the case, would the lawyer likely share the information or does the officer need a warrant from the court before the lawyer will release any information?

GUNS, GAMS, AND GUMSHOES’S ANSWER: The lawyer’s client is deceased, but the lawyer is still considered to represent the estate of the deceased. However, if the lawyer suspects that someone has committed a crime in order to take advantage of an inheritance, the lawyer is under an ethical obligation to facilitate the investigation. The lawyer would be inclined to cooperate with the officer in spite of what the supervising officer might want.

Posted in Suspicious Death | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on Answering Writer’s Question: Suspicious Death and a Missing Will

 
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