How do PI's dig up dirt on people?
January 19, 2009 1:57 PM   Subscribe

Where can I find out more about the investigation techniques used by private investigators?

In watching movies like This Film Is Not Yet Rated and reading mystery novels about PI's, I've become really interested in the field. I don't think I'll become a professional PI, but I still want to read more about the techniques they use to dig up information about people.

I'm looking for books, web sites, and other resources that talk about how private investigators conduct investigations and the web sites or other databases they consult.

posted by reenum to Grab Bag (9 answers total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
This is a cool site. /dons night vision goggles/
posted by acro at 2:28 PM on January 19, 2009

Privacy Is Dead - Get Over It [google video] is well worth investing a few hours in.
posted by flabdablet at 2:32 PM on January 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer:
If you really want to get the inside scoop, you could always take a PI training/licensure class at your local community college. Ask a professional PI in your area, in some markets it's fairly easy to pick up apprentice work and learn firsthand.

Kansas Association of Private Investigators

A couple of good books:

Understanding Surveillance Technologies: Spy Devices, Their Origins and Applications

How to Get Anything on Anybody

A close cousin to the PI is the CI researcher, also known as Competitive Intelligence analysts. A lot of the people in the field have a think tank or intelligence background, and do pretty much what it sounds like. (n.b: never, ever use the word "industrial espionage" around these guys unless you're trying to make them go ballistic...) Let's just say they take "getting anything on anybody" to a whole new level. heh.

The Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals has some awesome chapter meetings (in DC and NY, anyway!) and they'll usually be glad to recommend books and the like. Lots of resources on their website, too.

Good places to start:

Super Searchers on Competitive Intelligence: The Online and Offline Secrets of Top CI Researchers

Amazon List: Modern Classics in Competitive Intelligence
posted by aquafortis at 3:43 PM on January 19, 2009

PIs are a cagey bunch - A private investigator gave me this tip when I asked him a similiar question. He said if you're driving and think someone is following you, make 3 right turns. If the person is still behind you then yes, you're being followed. He mentioned the name of a publisher that publishes books regarding PI techniques but I can't quite remember right now.
posted by philad at 4:28 PM on January 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

Thailand PI has a bunch of case studies that, in not being glamorous or neat, ring true.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 10:03 PM on January 19, 2009

I came in here to post what flabdablet did. I saw the presentation at HOPE and it was a pretty detailed primer on what PIs can do to track down people and dig up information. A lot of it is social engineering.
posted by Brian Puccio at 10:43 AM on January 20, 2009

There's some good info on this Atlanta Private Investigator's Site - and if that's not relevant try their sister site - I saw a whole bunch of stuff on there. Also on YouTube under "Atlanta Private Detective". They've uploaded real surveillance tapes with a bit of commentary. Hope that helps.
posted by FelixFaure at 4:19 AM on May 31, 2009

I propose that the publisher that the PI mentioned to philad was probably Paladin Press.
posted by redsparkler at 1:36 AM on September 12, 2009

I'd like to temper my statement...I propose that it was possibly Paladin Press. The great thing is that if private investigation doesn't pan out, there's always other action careers.
posted by redsparkler at 1:39 AM on September 12, 2009

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