Why Hire A PI?

If you want to investigate an organization, need to track down a debtor, or are simply curious about where your significant other really is when they say they’re “working late again”,  don’t try to be a D.I.Y.P.I.  Hire an experienced professional investigator – here are 6 reasons why:

1. Avoid Unnecessary Danger.

Unless you are very familiar with private investigative work, you’ll be putting yourself in grave danger if you try to perform your own investigation. The reason for this is that you are unlikely to know the art of surveillance or counter-surveillance and are therefore more likely to blow your cover early in the investigation. This exposure could very well lead to greater danger for you when the subject you are trying to follow realizes your presence, especially if the person has a criminal background.
It is far more sensible for you to hire the services of a private investigator that has been specially-trained in the art of undercover and surveillance work. In all likelihood, he or she is in a position and has sufficient experience and resources to go undetected throughout the whole investigation process – something that will be quite impossible for an amateur to achieve.

2. Avoid Potentially Serious Legal Issues.

Unlike the average American “do-it-yourself private investigator”, a professional investigator is going to know the law and the proper way to gather evidence for possible court proceedings. Thus, the private investigator will run a substantially lower risk of losing evidence or running afoul of court evidence rules. You, on the other hand, are unlikely to know these procedures and how to properly follow them.
For example, in the Commonwealth of Virginia, a spouse or significant other can call the police and have his or her partner arrested for stalking if it is discovered that they are being following by that person (surveillance). The police and properly-registered private investigators are the only persons exempt and allowed to follow individuals and record their movements and activities. Clients often make the mistake of thinking that they can follow their husbands/boyfriends/wives/girlfriends and use this information in subsequent court testimony. Since the evidence was obtained in an illegal manner, it will not be allowed in court.
Another common misconception, well known to the professional investigator but seldom known to clients, comes in the area of audio taping conversations. Many clients think that they can hide a recorder or “tap a phone line” and then use the information they obtain in a court proceeding. If you live in a “two-party” State, both parties involved in that phone conversation must consent to having it taped. If, on the other hand, you live in a “one-party” State such as Virginia, it is only necessary to have the consent of one of the parties involved. This means that if an investigator is talking to an individual and that individual admits to a wrong doing, or boasts about it to an undercover investigator, that investigator is legally able to record the conversation on a hidden recorder and use this evidence later in a court of law.
Gathering evidence is of little use if it’s not admissible in court or, even worse, if the activity is illegal and lands you in jail. A private investigator knows what is and isn’t legal and the proper way to gather evidence in order for it to be admissible in court. For example, you can place a GPS tracker on your spouse’s vehicle as long as the vehicle is registered in your name or is intended for use by the family. This usually means you cannot place a GPS tracking device on your girlfriend or boyfriend’s car. The same law applies to installing surveillance software on a computer. In a situation where a client wants to perform an activity that is illegal, a professional private investigator will know of and suggest an alternate solution that is safe and legal.

3. Benefit From Hiring Someone With Years of Knowledge and Experience.

When all else fails, private investigators have the charisma of experience on their side. They’re likely to know when they hear lies, when they are going down the wrong track, and how to handle themselves if their cover is blown and they are detected. You, on the other hand, are unlikely to know any of these tactics, which will result in you not only potentially wasting a lot of time tracking down dead end leads, but also running the risk of getting hurt in the process. Good investigators have a lot of tricks up their sleeves to help them get out of difficult, or even dangerous, situations while delivering results.
One of these “tricks of the trade” is a “busy back signal” phone number – when asked for a number where the undercover investigator may be reached, the subject will be given an untraceable phone number that, when dialed, always gives a busy signal.
Another huge advantage that private investigators have is their professional credentials.  Since considerable time is spent sitting in vehicles watching subjects and recording videos of their movements, neighbors and concerned citizens regularly call the police to check out the “suspicious” behavior of the investigator. If an investigator has the time to call ahead to the police district involved (giving a description of his vehicle and full particulars about himself and/or his company), the police will advise the concerned citizen that they are aware of the vehicle and that it is on “official business”.
Even if time does not permit the investigator to plan ahead and make the call, once a responding police officer is shown the investigator’s State-issued professional ID card, the officer will be satisfied that the investigator is engaged in an official capacity. However, the same professional courtesy will not be afforded to the makeshift detective who decides to take on the project without any professional training or credentials.
Being a private investigator requires many skills beyond knowing how to drive and take photos. If you’ve ever tried following a friend’s car to a restaurant, for example, you know how easy it is to lose them on the highway or at a traffic light – and this is when they want you to follow them! So imagine trying to follow someone who doesn’t want to be followed, you may not know the intended destination, and you’re trying to avoid being obvious and getting caught. A private investigator has to be not only constantly aware of a subject’s every move, but also able to anticipate likely actions. Because moving surveillance is so difficult, it is sometimes recommended for multiple agents to be on the case at the same time or, at the very least, for a private investigator to change attire or even vehicles during a surveillance case.
Besides being surveillance experts, private investigators must master many technologies. They need to know how to use overt and covert cameras, install and download surveillance software, keystroke loggers and GPS trackers, perform counter surveillance, retrieve deleted computer files, find elusive background information online, and much more. Above everything, they know which investigative technique is best to use when and how to handle themselves if their cover is blown, to avoid jeopardizing the case
What’s more, even the usage of surveillance vehicles and driving is a well-honed art form that is far more complicated than the average person could imagine. A professional investigator is not only constantly aware of the subject’s every move, but he must also be in a position to use his experience to anticipate likely or possible movements. He must constantly think many steps ahead and be versatile enough to not only change clothing and appearances during the course of surveillance, but also vehicles.
A true professional will continually undergo courses that keep his skill sets sharp and current. The better companies ensure that their personnel attend counter surveillance courses, evasive driving courses on professional race tracks, training on how to best install tracking devices and covert cameras on vehicles, etc.

4. Benefit From Hiring Someone With Extensive Knowledge Of Investigative Processes.

Investigation work is not merely about asking a load of questions – although interviewing is a very important skill. More important is the manner in which the investigator asks those questions – making use of probing techniques or asking open-ended questions which will provide leads and answers. Many of today’s investigations involve the precise art of forensic accounting – meticulously following a paper trail and discovering the various stages that a fraudulent transaction has taken. That trail is then followed carefully back to its author or originator. In this way, a business owner who was the victim of a dishonest employee can discover the amount of loss to his company, and with the help of a professional investigator can build a case against that person and seek either a criminal prosecution or civil remedy.
Finally, even verbal investigation skills are honed.  For example, private investigators know the exact questions to ask a person, and the optimal way to phrase the questions to obtain the necessary information.

5. Benefit From Hiring Someone With Extensive Knowledge Of Surveillance Technology.

A huge amount of investigation work involves very specialized and considerably expensive equipment. Unless you are a techno-enthusiast, it is unlikely that you have either the equipment itself or the knowledge to use the equipment. As a result, you’ll either not use the technology, or at least not use it to its maximum potential.
A good private investigator, on the other hand, has first-hand experience on how to use this technology in a safe and legal way to maximize client benefits.

6. Save Valuable Time While Regaining Peace Of Mind

Finally, any surveillance procedure undertaken by a private investigator is usually very time-consuming. Assuming that you have to work as well as carry on your do-it-yourself private investigation duties, it is very likely you are not going to have sufficient time to adequately handle all of your obligations. In this case, you’ll have to spend a lot of your own time on a project, only to find out that it was completely wasted if none of the evidence is admissible in court. Worse still, you may inadvertently overstep the line and find yourself in trouble with the authorities. The last thing you want to happen is to go from being the innocent victim to being the defendant. The money that you may be forced to pay an attorney to represent you to undo the damage could have been far better invested in the services of a professional investigator who earns a living by conducting work like that every day for many different clients.
So, when it comes to detective work, don’t try to do it yourself. Instead, hire a professional private investigator and sit in the comfort of your chair while you read the investigator’s report and watch the covert video without the concerns of you getting hurt or losing the target!

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