Literary Lunchbox readers shared my misery – I assume – when I wrote about my difficulties in finding information on current private investigators’ tools. The book I was using as a reference was from 1997 and hadn’t been updated since; an online search didn’t reveal anything remotely helpful. What to do?
Enter private investigator Vic Pichette of Genesis Investigations in Rhode Island. He left his contact info on my blog and was generous enough to spend over an hour with me on the phone! The conversation was wide- ranging. His web site features mostly family disputes – cheating spouses, child custody, and the like – and even though my book doesn’t call for this plot line, talking about it was just fascinating. A key tool is the hidden camera. According to Vic, “everybody wants to see video.”
Tracing missing persons – the recently, on-purpose hidden people vs. the long-time estranged relative – was also very interesting. As I suspected, if you’ve got their social security number, you’re golden. And, as I suspected, there is a treasure trove of databases not available to the public, only to those in the business. A rundown of those and I’m good to go, adding more than “truthiness” to my tale.
But, of course, my protagonist (former actress Paula Berger) has awesome improv skills … and it’s great to know that “social engineering” is a must for the private detective. Start a conversation, stand back, and let the people talk. A clipboard and a pen are all the tools you need. “It’s amazing what people will tell you,” Vic says.
As an example, Vic tells a story of a man he was trying to run down for running out on his child support payments. He’d ditched his old cell phone, but Vic was able to run down a new number. He dials it.
“Yeah?” the guy answers.
“Where you at?” Vic asks.
And the guy tells him!
Missing person, found.
Hearing Vic’s stories made me wonder if he’d ever thought about writing a book himself. And, of course, he has… so maybe we’ll be seeing him climb the bestseller lists in the years to come. In the meantime, he’s offered his help when I might need it, which is very much appreciated. One thing I’ll be spending some time doing for sure is watching his videos on Youtube! You can learn about the real life of a private eye, take a look at the latest video surveillance equipment, or even figure out if your spouse is cheating on you. Here’s a sample video! Enjoy.