The good ole private detective has been a favourite of our TV screens for decades. But what does he or she actually do?
For most of us, a private detective evokes images of the classic crime drama sleuth – Hercule Poirot or Sherlock Holmes – with ripping adventures and murder investigations. But the truth is often far more mundane.
Such adventures aren’t wholly mythical either. Mysteries abound, some more serious than others, and modern private detectives often find themselves doing anything from tracing missing people to tracking criminal activity.
The Technological Approach
The growth of electronic technology has added an extra dimension to private investigation. Today’s professional investigators are more likely to find themselves sitting in front of a computer than skulking in dark alleys with a concealed camera.
Monitoring social media accounts and internet footprints are the stock-in-trade of private detectives. Doing background checks on people is a common request.
Often, potential employees need vetting to ensure they’ve kept their noses clean in their past lives. After all, the last thing an employer wants is an ill-judged comment on social media to cause damage to a company’s hard-won reputation.
For those seeking the rugged legwork of the detective novel, traditional methods of surveillance still play a part in the investigator’s repertoire.
Suspected matrimonial infidelity is a common case for the private detective, as is commercial dishonesty. To tackle such cases, static observation or mobile surveillance may be used in order to get photographic evidence.
As some areas of work become less frequent, others are growth areas for the private detective.
With a spike in fraudulent insurance claims, private detectives are often hired to investigate claims that arouse suspicion, such as whiplash claims after road accidents and cash-for-crash scenarios. There’s also a growing trend in internet fraud to combat.