There are so many reasons to hire an investigator than  most people think.  The common case that most  associate is the “cheating spouse” but for many firms that  is only a small segment of their business. Our company  conducts many different investigations for corporations,  law firms, insurance companies and private individuals.  At any given point we may be actively working cases  ranging from a traffic accident, slip/fall, child custody,  criminal defense or conducting skip traces and asset  searches.  Maybe it’s the mystique or just the availability of  information but it seems now more than ever we have  clients who think they can do our jobs just as easily on their own.  Notice I called them “clients’ because they often wind up calling us when they quickly realize the complexity often involved or the time that it takes to work a case effectively.  So, we have put together our Top 8 reasons to use a private investigator (instead of going it alone):

  1. Experience – Most investigators have extensive experience in law enforcement, military intelligence and/or other backgrounds related to the profession.  This translates into specific training and on-the-job exposure to interview & interrogation, constitutional law, surveillance and investigative techniques, evidence handling, testifying in court and many other critical skills.
  2. Neutrality – An ethical private investigator will always remain unbiased throughout any case, operating as a fact finder and never sacrificing their integrity, morals or violating the law in their processes to obtain information.  Evidence obtained by conducting investigations yourself can sometimes be inadmissible, or at a minimum will create more challenges for your attorney.  Saving money now may not give you a return on your investment when the court proceedings begin.  An attorney will not want to put your brother on the stand to testify that he saw your husband cheating on you.  Can you say “conflict of interest”!
  3. Evidence – It is not enough to just go out with your little Sony camcorder and record video footage of your husband walking into his hotel room.  Proper evidence collection, handling, chain of custody are all critical processes which must be strictly adhered to.  Things like a date/time stamp, not tampering with the video and even the format that an attorney needs it in are all factors that also have to be considered.
  4. Equipment – Investigators that are serious about their business have invested thousands of dollars in the best possible equipment for their profession.  We spend countless hours researching and purchasing cameras, GPS trackers, forensic software and other technology that will operate in the multitude of scenarios we find ourselves in.  In surveillance, we have to consider factors like low light environments, distance, weather, traffic and other environmental conditions which can greatly affect our ability to get the best evidence possible.
  5. Time – Investigations take time, sometimes more than we can even predict in the beginning.  And this often means being available day, night, weekends and holidays or just whenever that one opportunity presents itself to get what is needed for a case.  I always spend considerable time creating an Op Plan before I begin an investigation, especially surveillance, but a recent case didn’t allow for that.  Before I had chance to even spend 20 minutes on it the situation changed and we had to drop everything and rush right into three nights of surveillance.  Unless you have no kids, no job, no other responsibilities and the capability of claiming to be away from home for another legitimate reason, then how are you going to drop and go?
  6. Legal Considerations – Do you know what the laws are regarding the use of GPS trackers?  Do you even know what the acronyms DPPA, GLB, & FCRA are?  Well you better have a clear understanding of the various privacy laws both within Federal and State Statutes or you may find yourself as a defendant in a civil or even criminal trial. PIs walk in a virtual minefield and we have to step carefully to ensure that we do not violate these and other privacy laws.
  7. Danger – Most PIs understand the danger that comes along with the job.  As a former law enforcement officer I faced danger every shift and even times when I was off duty and was confronted by those I had arrested.  While the frequency of danger may be less in the private sector, we do not have back-up around the corner, the authority to arrest or even wear a bulletproof vest.  Just two months ago I was nearly car-jacked while on surveillance for a corporate investigation….who would think that could happen in a business parking lot that was open at the time or that this kind of danger would even exist on this type of investigation.
  8. Skill – We talked about experience above, but it also takes skill to be able to successfully conduct any investigation.  Surveillance (for example) is far, far more difficult than most people believe.  Rural environments are difficult because of the speeds that a vehicle can travel and obstruction of view from curves, trees or other landscape features.  A long driveway can make it nearly impossible to conduct surveillance from a vehicle and somehow blend into the environment undetected.  Alternatively, a high traffic city street creates a problem if the person you are tailing can lose you by changing lanes, running a traffic light on yellow or turning onto a side street.  It takes a lot of skill to effectively follow someone without getting “burned” too.  If you get too far, you risk losing them, too close and they may start to realize the same blue Toyota Highlander has been on their tail for 5 miles.  Get burned and the surveillance just got exponentially more difficult.

The availability of hidden/covert cameras, affordability of GPS devices and information available online has led many people to believe they can conduct an investigation by themselves.  And while that may be true in some scenarios, most cases warrant hiring a licensed, insured, reputable and experienced investigator.  Show like Magnum PI, Burn Notice & CSI are great entertainment but they greatly alter the perception people have of what we do, how we do it and what can and cannot be done.  If you value the outcome of your investigation, we highly recommend consulting with a licensed private investigator that can effectively, efficiently and discreetly get the answers you are seeking.