Secret police “Street Files” are being discovered.

[Episode 001 Podcast at]

For years I’ve been saying, “If you’re an investigator, you have to leave your office. You can’t just rely on computer work. You can’t just rely on the telephone. You have to get up off your rear end and go out into the real world and actually do investigating. Hey, private investigator, do some investigating!”

The information is not all online and it’s not all easy to get!

Reporter, Jason Meisner, with the Chicago Tribune earlier this year, published a story about exactly what I’ve been saying and his story reveals the existence of secret street files secretly held by the Chicago Police Department.

This is not unique to the Chicago Police Department. You’re going to find this everywhere and this is why I’ve been so adamant about it for years.

What are “street files”? Continue reading

Can you make a living as a bounty hunter?

How realistic is it to make your living as a bounty hunter?

Bounty hunting looks glamorous on TV. It seems like a fun thing. And, I don’t blame you at all if you see it that way. I see the attraction to it. However, let me tell you a little of the behind the scenes things you may not know about bounty hunting.

Disclaimer: Of course, I am a private investigator and by no means an expert bounty hunter. It’s not something that I do regularly. But, It is something that I have done so I have a little bit of insight for you.

Who does Bounty Hunting?

A lot of bounty hunting (and I would say most bounty hunting) is done by the bondsmen himself or his agents.

The idea is that the bondsman wants the person for whom they posted bail to show up in court. That’s how a bondsman makes his money! If the defendant doesn’t show up, the bondsman is going to lose the bail money he posted.

So the general rule of thumb is the bondsman will pay the bounty hunter 10% of what the whole bond is to bring this person back. That way the bondsman himself doesn’t have to forfeit the entire amount. So by definition, you’ve got a “fail” if the defendant didn’t show up in court. That’s a fail right there on the business side of things for the bondsman.

If the person “skips out”, the bondsman is just trying to recoup his money. What it comes down to is he’s just trying not to lose too much money. That’s when a bounty hunter comes into play. And, a lot of the time, a bondsmen will use their own agents to go recover the skip.

State law varies on who can be a bounty hunter. In my state, it can only be done by the bondsman himself, a commissioned police officer, or a licensed private investigator. That’s why I’ve done it. Because when this law was first passed, there was a real scramble. The bondsmen couldn’t use the guys they normally sent out. So bondsmen scrambled to find private investigators like myself who were willing to do bounty hunting.

How much money does a bounty hunter make?

So I did bounty hunting for a little while. I didn’t like it. But not for the reasons you might think. I didn’t like it because it didn’t pay well enough!

And here is where it comes down to answering the question, is bounty hunting a realistic way to make a living? I really don’t think so.

The bondsman generally pays the bounty hunter 10% of the amount of bail he posted to bail out the defendant. That means if the person (AKA the defendant or client) needed to post $50,000 to get out of jail until his next court appearance, the defendant gives the bondsman 10% ($5,000) and the bondsman promises to pay the court all $50,000 if the defendant doesn’t show up in court. When the defendant shows up, the bondsman keeps the $5,000 as his fee. If the defendant doesn’t show up (“skips”), the bondsman offers the bounty hunter the $5,000 to find and bring in the defendant.

Now, that sounds pretty lucrative! The bounty hunter (AKA: fugitive recovery agent) makes a pretty sizable amount of money for work that should be completed in a fairly short amount of time! And, yeah, that’s probably worth it.

The two big problems.

As profitable as this arrangement may seem for the bounty hunter, there are two basic problems with this as a business model if you want to make a living at it. Continue reading

Why street people drink where they do and the important P.I. lesson for you.

This week I want to share with you two reasons why street people tend to drink on the main streets that run through a neighborhood rather than in the back alleys and, more importantly, I want to explain the reason why this is important to you.

Depending on where you work or do surveillance, serve process, maybe even live – there are neighborhoods that have a fairly high number of street people – and you’ll see them tending to sit on stoops and drink more out on the main drags rather than back in the alleys.

Of course, you may be able to think of exceptions when you’re walking down the street and you look down a side street or an alley and you see a group of people sitting back there drinking. In most of those cases, that’s probably more of a regular drinking spot and there’s a certain “safety in numbers”, but that brings me to why you tend to see street people drink on those main drags.

The First Reason

The first reason is that it’s just safer for them to drink along the main streets that go though neighborhoods. While you may look at these people and think of them as perpetrators, they are much more likely to be victims.

They stay out on those main drags because it’s safer for them if they drink and pass out rather than becoming stupefied in a back alley. In an alley they’ll wake up (or come to) without their shoes and without what little possessions they have. They simply will be robbed back there.

Sometimes you hear about a person being killed over a beer. For street people this is one of those times. A guy can come out of a Qwickie Mart with a beer and a pack of cigarettes and other street people see this. If they feel they can take it from him (or maybe that he “owes” them from a previous time), they’ll follow the guy back into a back alley, beat him and take his beer and cigarettes.

On the other hand, if he stays on the main drag, there’s a much better chance he’s going to remain safe. Safety is the first reason street people tend to drink on the main streets in a neighborhood.

An important side note… Continue reading