The following comment was posted by RobK on the "Becoming a PI" blog post. As questions about techniques are a whole separate issue, I've chosen to start up a new post covering any questions you might have regarding any technical or procedural surveillance issues.
How many cars should a PI have "ideally"? I have only one car which looks quite conspicuous and in a very good condition. It was new when I had bought it in less than six years ago and think of either buying something different instead OR keeping and buying a second hand one which can be 'blended nicely' (I think it is important to choose the right one based what I have gathered from the US Websites) Any type(s) (Make & Model) you might suggest? Some say a big VAN would be ideal. I personally would be interested in both factual & surveillance but more so, factual side of it. What types would the most successful PIs usually use in Australia? I couldn't find any website suggesting to the Australian PIs about the ideal cars they should use. They all are from the USA!
I'm receiving more and more very short, very poorly written emails with shocking grammar and dubious spelling that are, judging by the use of phone text abbreviations (TKS, BTW, RU, etc.) and other indicators, written hastily on and sent from, a mobile phone.
What I have difficulty comprehending is that some of these emails relate to what are very important personal situations. For example, a young adult looking to get in contact with a biological parent, or vice versa. I would have thought wanting to find a family member was a pretty big deal and worth at least a bit of effort.
A private investigator's sole roll is to provide information, but before we can do that, we need accurate information with which to work. Is the person's given name really "saw" or did predictive text take over? The more (accurate) information you provide us, the better the results we can provide you. This is repeated under just about every service type on this website, but it seems an awful lot of people just can't be bothered.
Well, if you can't be bothered, why should I?
Oh, and by the way, if cost is a factor to you, keep in mind that the more time I have to spend on a matter (seeking clarification, asking for more information, etc.) the greater your costs.
Sydney Morning Herald
The full Monte: this cheat wants to be mayor
April 22, 2012
Almost 25 years after this PI started ripping off clients, he's still at it. Now he wants Clover Moore's job, writes Kate McClymont.
After 45 years in the business Frank Monte, who immodestly calls himself ''the world's greatest detective'', is still doing what he does best: lying, cheating and ripping people off.
Announcing this week that ''The world famous and Australia's most respected private investigator'' would be running for Sydney's lord mayor, media inquiries were directed to his press officer, Andrew Thompson. ''Mr Thompson'', whose voice bore an uncanny resemblance to Monte's, told The Sun-Herald to wait a moment while he put the call through to the boss.
Funnily enough, Mr Thomson's 1300 number is also that of the Association of Master Investigators of Australasia, a bogus business, the only members of which are two investigation companies Parker Taylor and Morgan Turner - both fronts which Monte allegedly uses to rip people off. He has so many aliases, even Monte gets confused.
I frequently get inquiries from people looking for help on locating a missing child. Often the missing person is over 16 years of age, so they are deemed to be an adult in the eyes of the law. In most cases police can't assist at all so a private investigator is contacted.
If the missing person refuses contact with their family / friends, it can be an extremely emotional and difficult situation.
I was recently contacted by the sister of a missing person, who was an "adult" male. He had been missing for over 5 weeks, refused all contact (in fact he had changed his mobile number) and his sister and mother were very concerned about his welfare.
Here are my thoughts on this type of situation.
When it comes to determining whether your partner is being unfaithful, PC and phone spyware can often be an invaluable tool. It will not always provide rock-solid and indisputable evidence of infidelity, regardless of how damning it might initially appear. For example, email or chat logs that go into explicit sexual content can be, and often are, explained away as just pure fantasy. "It was all just pretend stuff. It was just a fantasy thing. Nothing ever happened in real life. Honest." The main use of spyware in establishing whether infidelity is occurring is to help identify the other person and past or future events (times and locations) so that surveillance can be better targeted and video obtained to show how both people interact when together. Holding hands and kissing, then walking off into a motel is a whole lot harder to explain away than a few salacious emails.
Okay, so spyware can be helpful when you need to determine whether your partner is cheating. But, there's another take on the use of spyware that seems to be becoming more prevalent these days.
Over the past few months, I've been contacted by a number of people looking to use spyware to help them determine whether their partner is becoming suspicious of their infidelity.
I get on average two or three calls a week from people interested in becoming a private investigator.
When I get these calls, I have fixed feelings.
I certainly don’t want to discourage someone who has done a little homework about the profession and genuinely feels they might have the capabilities of becoming a good investigator. When I get a call from someone like this, I’m quite happy to chat to them about investigation work and give them some insights.
On the other hand, I also wonder whether the caller has just watched a Magnum PI re-run on TV or read a spy thriller. Then, on impulse they decide to call a PI to find out more because it all looks and sounds really exciting. Usually, for this type of caller, it’s turns out to be just a waste of my time.
The excitement factor
Is PI work exciting?
My usual answer is, no.
There can be occasions when you will get a rush of adrenaline, such as when conducting a surveillance assignment, or get a great deal of satisfaction in finally being able to uncover some critical evidence in a very complex matter, but generally investigation work is tedious and boring.
Surely following someone around on surveillance isn’t boring?
Okay, following someone around isn’t boring, in fact, it can be quite exciting. But, surveillance work is not all about the surveillance subject being active.
Surveillance work is generally 90% inactivity and 10% activity. So, for every ten hours of surveillance, you will spend 9 hours doing nothing but watching and waiting for some sort of activity.
Are you really ready for that kind of boredom?
Only one person in 10 will make it past the first 12 months as a surveillance investigator
1994's Most Bizarre Suicide
At the 1994 annual awards dinner given by the American Association for Forensic Sciences, AAFS President Don Harper Mills astounded his audience in San Diego with the legal complications of a bizarre death. Here is the story...
On March 23 the medical examiner viewed the body of Ronald Opus and concluded that he died from a gunshot wound of the head caused by a shotgun.
Investigation to that point had revealed that the decedent had jumped from the top of a ten story building with the intent to commit suicide. (He left a note indicating his despondency.) As he passed the 9th floor on the way down, his life was interrupted by a shotgun blast through a window, killing him instantly. Neither the shooter nor the decedent was aware that a safety net had been erected at the 8th floor level to protect some window washers, and that the decedent would not have been able to complete his intent to commit suicide because of this...
The best way to help your investigator on a private/domestic matter – and perhaps save yourself some money.
A lot of investigators don’t provide private or domestic investigation services. By private/domestic matters I’m referring to infidelity or cheating partners, child custody and other Family Law matters, pre-nuptial checks, divorce litigation support or child activity surveillance.
Ever wonder why that is?
These types of private matters are often highly emotional situations for the client. When someone is having a personal crisis and they turn to an investigator to obtain information or “peace of mind”, that investigator is often the only person with whom they feel comfortable sharing this information. There is often an “unburdening of the soul” and a great avalanche of information is provided, particularly at the first meeting.
It's always nice when you can help someone out. This particular client needed to find someone quickly and one simple search conducted while the client was still on the phone got the information they needed. The search only cost me a few dollars and I was happy to help at no charge.
When you then get such a nice email in return, it's thanks enough.
There is an increasing trend by insurers to use a lesser number of investigation agencies and rely on large (often national) agencies for the conduct of their work. WorkCover Queensland recently reduced their investigation panel members from six to three. Whereas there was previously several smaller firms that provided specialised surveillance services exclusively, the three selected large national firms now provide both surveillance and factual investigations.
No doubt there are logistical and other corporate reasons for choosing to go the “lesser and bigger” route. But it does make me wonder whether this will, in time, be seen to have been the correct decision. In fact, several large insurers have started to reverse their policies in this regard. Whilst there will always be some degree of variation in the quality of service that any agency produces, a common theme I have been hearing is that the larger firms seem to have a somewhat “sausage factory” mentality. Get the job in, done and back with little apparent regard for results or quality of service.
Maybe I’m wrong, but being “all things, to all people, everywhere” seems like an extremely difficult business model to achieve and an even harder one to maintain.
I’ve given some recent thought to what the pros and cons are to choosing a larger firm over a smaller one.
Listen to some jazz whilst reading