PI Industry – In the News April 28, 2011

Defendant marries alleged victim in statutory rape case

Los Angeles Times

Penny Freeman said investigators checked the couple’s criminal history, found no record and felt they did not have enough information to follow up with the girl or her mother. Still concerned, the aunt approached a private investigator, who watched the …

Pair accused of being private investigators without licenses

Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — A pair of men who prosecutors say were running their own private investigator business have been charged in 3rd District Court with not being licensed. The men actually went to the Bureau of Criminal Identification at one point to …

 Hollywood Files: Deadly Intrigues Coming Soon to Nintendo DS


In Hollywood Files Deadly Intrigues players are thrown in to the frantic life of Zoey, a private investigator and owner of a thriving detective agency in Hollywood. The game’s plot revolves around the death of Peter, a famous actor involved in a freak …

Huntington breathes life into ‘Dylan Dog’ zombie role

Boston Herald

In Friday’s “Dylan Dog: Dead of Night,” Huntington, 29, is Marcus, the undead assistant to Brandon Routh’s Dylan Dog, the world’s only living private investigator of the undead. His motto: “No pulse, no problem.” Fans of Syfy’s “Being Human” series …

The Power of the Sheriff

If you’ve ever wondered why your local county sheriff is elected rather than appointed like police chiefs are or if you are interested in what role the sheriff is SUPPOSED to play in the protection of your constitutional rights, you need to get to know Sheriff Richard Mack!  Sheriff Mack has been leading the fight to protect our Constitutional rights long before the Tea Party movement made it fashionable.  Sheriff Mack sacrificed his career as Sheriff of Graham County, Az., by leading the fight against the Clinton administrations attempt to compel county sheriff’s into enforcing the un-constitutional Brady Bill.  After a long and personally costly legal fight, Sheriff Mack eventually won in a landmark US Supreme Court Decision. You can hear his remarkable story from the man himself because he is tonight’s featured speaker for the California Coalition for Immigration Reform: 

DATE: Wednesday, April 27, 2011

WHERE: Garden Grove Women’s Club, 9501 Chapman Ave, Garden Grove, CA 92841

TIME: 7:30 PM COST: Reservations: CCIR members $15 EACH – Non-members $20 EACH **AT DOOR, ADD $5

If you can’t make it, be sure to check out Sheriff Mack’s informative website:   Sheriff Mack is truly on the front lines fighting for you.  I’m proud to call him a friend and I hope to see you there tonight!

So, You Wanna Be A Bounty Hunter?

Fresh off the heels of our latest fugitive capture, I thought it would be fitting to post about bounty hunting. I am often contacted by aspiring bounty hunters looking for advise about how to break into the business. This post will give you some perspective on the ins and outs of the bounty hunter profession. But first little bit about the bail bond business:

In states that have a bail system, like California, if you are arrested for a crime you can secure your release until your case has been heard by the court and a final resolution is reached. That’s where the bail bondsman comes in. The bondsman posts a bond usually for a fee of approximately 8% of the face of the bond guaranteeing you will appear in court as promised. If you do, at some point there will be a resolution to your case. You could be found guilty and sentenced to jail or state prison, declared innocent or not guilty and released or you could reach some type of plea agreement with the court. If and when the case is resolved, the bond gets exonerated by the court and the bondsman is no longer financially responsible for the defendant.

If the defendant fails to appear, the bond is forfeited by the court and depending upon the jurisdiction, the bondsman or his agent, (that means you the bounty hunter), have a limited amount of time to locate and surrender their client, now officially a fugitive from justice to the court or to the authorities. For the sake of this post, we will use California law, which gives the bondsman 6 months, and usually a six month extension if some effort has been made to locate the defendant. Once a bond is forfeited, the bondsman is on the hook for the entire face value of the bond if he or she does not surrender the defendant to the court within the time allowed by law. So if a defendant skips on a $10,000 bond, the bondsman will owe $10,000 to the court. If the bail is $100,000 the bondsman will owe $100,000 to the court. That’s where you, the aspiring bounty hunter comes in.

Many aspiring bounty hunters ask me how to get work in the industry. There is no shortcut. If you don’t have some type of experience apprehending fugitives, it’s going to be difficult finding work in the industry. Here’s why; a bail bondsman makes a significant investment every time they assign a case to a bounty hunter. If the bounty hunter can’t produce, they have to pay the court, that’s it, period! Paying out on one or two big bonds is all is takes to put a bondsman out of business. Because of that, they are very selective about who they assign this responsibility to.

Most small or independent bail bondsman, like those Hunt Private Investigations work for either chase their own skips or hire a bounty hunter to do it for them. In almost all cases the bondsman will have a personal relationship with the bounty hunter they choose and he or she will have a proven track record of success.

Some of the lager, statewide and national bail bond companies, such as Aladdin Bail Bonds, hire in house bounty hunters who work exclusively for that company tracking down their fugitives. This is probably the best option for someone with little or no experience to break into the field and learn on the job.

Bounty Hunting Realities

Dog the Bounty Hunter is a very popular reality show and has given the bounty hunting profession a high profile. But keep in mind that Dwayne “Dog” Chapman is also a bail bondsman. Many of the “captures” featured on his show are surrenders on his own bonds and the “fugitive” doesn’t know he’s coming for them. The success rate for a bond surrender, the term for taking a pre-fugitive defendant into custody is significantly greater than the capture rate of a fugitive on the run who knows he is being hunted and doesn’t want to get caught. Here are some things to consider before buying your bullet proof vest, pepper spray can and Indian feathers:

You gotta kill what you eat!

That means, no capture, no pay. The industry standard fee for bounty hunting is a percentage of the bond, usually 10 % for in state recoveries, 20 % for out of state and $30% and up for international recoveries, plus expenses associated with the investigation. For most investigative work, the client is billed for the time you spend working on the case. Not so with bail cases. Fugitive cases can take months to complete, travel is often involved, which means airfare, hotel and rental car expenses and there is no guarantee you’ll capture the defendant in time to meet the deadline exonerate the bond to get paid.

Big fish, little fish?

Don’t assume that someone with a $10,000 bond will be any easier to catch than someone with a $250,000 bond. Remember, your skip knows he or she is wanted, often times they prepared to run in advance and will do everything they can to avoid capture. Can you afford to invest months to collect a mere $1,000 on a $10,000 bond? You better be able to because you’re going to have to prove yourself on the small bond cases before you ever get the chance to work a big one.

Risky business

Bounty hunting is not a game. Taking a fugitive into custody is serious business and can be very dangerous. It is also fraught with potential liability. Foot pursuits and physical confrontation are not uncommon. Make sure you know the laws governing bounty hunting where you work because every jurisdiction is different. And be sure to abide by them! Not a year goes without bounty hunter somewhere being charged with kidnapping or some other violation of law for over stepping their legal authority. Dwayne “Dog” Chapman’s troubles,  with Mexican authorities a few years back is one of the more infamous cases that comes to mind. We all want to catch our skips, but you have to follow the rules or you’re no different than they are!


I have been chasing crooks since my 18th birthday when I joined the Army to serve as a military police officer. There are very few things that give me a greater a sense of accomplishment than taking a bad guy off the street. Bounty Hunting is a service my investigation agency provides that allows me to continue to feel that same sense of satisfaction. It can be a rewarding and worthwhile way to make a living if you have the skills and patience for it.

Want more info?

Check out my interview about how to become a bounty hunter with the Criminal Justice School at:

Veronica Mar’s Musical Moments

The 1970′sand 80′s brought us a number of memorable TV private detectives. My personal favorites from the 70′s being James Gardner as the fast talking ex-con-turned-PI in the Rockford Files, and monster chasing investigative reporter Carl Kolchak, in The Night Stalker.  Robert Urich’s portrayal of PI Dan Tanna in Vega$ transitioned us into the 80′s followed by Tom Selleck’s cool character in Magnum, PI and Stacey Keach as the rough and tumble ladies man in Mike Hammer


TV’s most recent private eye phenom, Veronica Mars, portrayed by Kristen Bell is a clean break from the stereotypical tough guy mold of the past.   Veronica Mars is a spunky teenage girl turned PI after the murder of her best friend.  The show ran from 2004-2007 to a dedicated fan base.    Perhaps the success of Veronica Mars is linked to the success of the many accomplished professional female investigators, including several Hunt Private Investigations associate investigators in what was perceived to be a male dominated industry.

 Here is the link to a recently posted article about the shows nostalgic musical moments:


Tips for Hiring a Private Investigator

Some important points to consider in evaluating which private investigator to work with.

Make sure they are licensed. California requires private investigators to be licensed by the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services, (BSIS).  This ensures the investigator has met the state minimum requirement of 6000 hours of previous law enforcement or investigative employment and that they have passed the state PI exam.  Private Investigators are issued a license by the state and should be able to produce a copy of their license upon request.  You can verify the status of a California Private Investigators license at:$lcev2.startup?p_qte_code=PI&p_qte_pgm_code=2420

Do you need to meet with the P.I.? Not unless you want to.  The P.I industry, like many other industries are adapting new technology to save time and operate more efficiently. Technology also makes it easy to consult with prospective P.I’s over the phone and to exchange case information, review retainer agreements or contracts via e-mail.  The formality of a meeting is usually not necessary.  For complex cases or cases where you will be making a significant financial investment in your investigator, a meeting may be in order.   

Always get a contract. Like any other service, you should get a contract or retainer agreement that spells out what you are hiring the P.I. for and what you will get in return. If they cannot or will not present you with a contract, look for someone who will.

Experience. It is important that you know the qualifications and experience of the investigator that will be working on your case. Unfortunately, results are not guaranteed in investigative work, all an investigator can do is attempt to find what information is available and report it to the client. The more experienced the investigator, the greater the likelihood that your desired results will be achieved. Another consideration may be former law enforcement, military, security, medical or other specialty industry experience that gives them skills to do the specific job you are hiring them to do. Review any prospective Private Investigators experience carefully and ask for references before you commit.

Are they insured? The private investigator you hire is working for you, as your agent. If they damage someone’s property, get in a car accident, present false information, etc. while working on your behalf, they should have ample insurance to cover any loses that may occur. If not, you, as their employer are also exposed to liability. It is just good common sense to check for insurance coverage before you hire a PI. Hunt Private Investigations carries two million dollars in liability coverage to protect our clients. It should be no problem for a reputable investigator to present a certificate of insurance coverage for you to review and verify.

What does it cost to hire a P.I.? Private Investigator’s provide a service much like attorneys do.  And like attorney’s, their fees vary based upon a number of factors including, experience in the P.I. industry, expertise in a specific investigative specialty, etc.  Some Private Investigators charge a flat fee for their services, others charge by the hour and some, like Hunt Private Investigations do both depending upon the work requested.  If you follow the suggestions in this article, check references and feel comfortable working with the P.I. you hire, you should have a good experience.  If cost is your primary consideration, remember not all doctors or lawyers are equal and neither are all P.I.’s. In the end, you get what you pay for! 

Frank Abagnale Jr.’s Tips To Avoid Identity Theft

I recently saw an interesting segment on Fox News Channel’s,  Huckabee show that aired on Sunday, April 3, 2011.  The show’s host, former Arkansas Governor and Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee interviewed Frank Abagnale Jr. , the real life subject of the Oscar nominated movie, “Catch Me If You Can”, starring Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio.  The movie chronicled Abagnale’s early life as a con man and the FBI agent port raid by Tom Hanks who hunted him down and put him in prison.

Huckabee asked Abagnale for advice on how to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft. Abagnale offered the following tips:

  1. Use a shredder before throwing away any document containing financial information.  Mr. Abagnale also recommended using only a micro cut shredder because standard  paper shredders cut documents in strips that can be pieced together by motivated thieves.  A micro shredder turns paper into confetti like pieces that cannot be pieced back together, ensuring your financial data remains secure.
  2. Subscribe to a credit monitoring service that monitors all three credit bureaus.  Report and take corrective action on any irregularities as soon as you become aware of them.
  3. Don’t use checks! Checks contain your name, phone number, your banking information including the bank name, branch, your account number and routing number. Often times your drivers license number is written on the front of the check when being verified by the person accepting the check.  Anyone who ever sees that check or a copy of it have all they need to produce fraudulent checks to draw on your account.
  4. Don’t use debit cards, especially for on-line purchases.  Debit cards go directly to your bank and draw on your funds. He recommends using a credit card for all of your purchases.  It builds credit while using the banks money and there is no risk, that is unless you fail to pay your balances in full monthly to avoid incurring credit card debt!

Pretty good advise from a man who spent the last 30 years teaching the FBI, banks and security companies how to avoid becoming victims of fraud.

The hit movie about Abagnale’s former life on the run has been adapted into a Broadway musical, click the link for details:


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