The Investigation Guru – Episode 4

Five Things that a Private Investigator Can NEVER Do

This is Episode 4 of The Investigation Guru podcast. The Investigation Guru is the official podcast for Red Door Investigations. Please stay tuned for more exciting content on the world of true crime and private investigations. You can also subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts. We are available on all of the major platforms.

This episode closely follows a recent blog post series we did on the legalities of being a private investigator and the bounds and constraints that are placed on us by our governing agencies. In this episode, we discuss five things that a private investigator can NEVER do. For more information, please head over to our blog and read the post titled Five Things a Private Investigator CAN NOT Do Under Any Circumstances.

This post is also on our YouTube channel! Come check us out!

Make sure you tune in to The Investigation Guru podcast regularly for more true-crime and private investigation content. Season Two starts very soon. First up will be the shocking and disturbing case of Chris Watts, who murdered his pregnant wife and their two young daughters. If you haven’t heard of this case, get ready because it’s quite unnerving.

You can subscribe to this podcast by heading to our Subscribe to Podcast page. The Investigation Guru podcast is hosted on Blubrry and is available wherever you get your podcasts. You can visit the podcast’s page by going to our Blubrry site.

Please be patient with us…this is the final episode in Season One. We will be completely re-branding the show in Season Two and will be focusing more on true crime content and less on the PI stuff (although we may put in a PI episode here and there if it fits in with the more true-crime vibe we are going for). We are completely re-doing our intro and outro and getting some custom music for the channel that is more appropriate. This season, we have really been trying to get everything set up and get our feet wet. We have made our share of mistakes (and have learned from them). We have bought some new equipment and will be dedicating a lot more of our time to this area of our business. So, thank you so much for your extreme patience. Better things are coming out very soon, we promise.

We have merch! Check out our teepublic store and get some guru merch on your person! We have tee shirts, mugs, masks, hoodies, and tumblers, among other things. If you’d like to support the show, please consider becoming a Patron! You’d not only be helping the show, but you can also get some pretty sweet swag in the process.

The temporary intro music for this episode was composed by Kevin MacLeod. It is available on the incompetech website:

Anguish by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/3373-anguish
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Thank you for tuning in to this episode of The Investigation Guru podcast and we will see you next time!

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The Investigation Guru – Episode 3

Five Things a Private Investigator Can Do That Might Surprise You

This is Episode 3 of The Investigation Guru podcast. The Investigation Guru is the official podcast for Red Door Investigations. It has been a while since we uploaded any new content (our apologies), but things have been quite busy. We are going to do better, we promise. Please stay tuned for more exciting content on the world of true crime and private investigations. We should be uploading much more regularly going from here on out. We appreciate your patience.

This episode closely follows a recent blog post series we did on the legalities of being a private investigator and the bounds and constraints that are placed on us by our governing agencies. In this episode, we discuss five things that a private investigator can legally do. For more information, please head over to our blog and read the post titled Five Things a Private Investigator CAN DO that May Surprise You.

This post is also on our YouTube channel! Come check us out!

Make sure you tune in to The Investigation Guru podcast regularly for more true-crime and private investigation content.

You can subscribe to this podcast by heading to our Subscribe to Podcast page. The Investigation Guru podcast is hosted on Blubrry and is available wherever you get your podcasts. You can visit the podcast’s page by going to our Blubrry site.

Tune in next week when we discuss five things that a private investigator can NEVER do.

Thank you for tuning in to this episode of The Investigation Guru podcast and we will see you next time!

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Five Things a Private Investigator CAN NOT Do Under Any Circumstances

What Can a Private Investigator NEVER Do?

In the last post, we discussed five things that a private investigator is legally allowed to do. In this post, we will flip the script and discuss some things that a private investigator can NEVER do, under any circumstances. There are many legal grey areas surrounding private investigators (many of whom take full advantage of this fact), but there are state and federal laws that are in place to protect the public.

If you are a member of the general public and you see any of the behaviors on this list, call the police and the state regulatory board for your state. The behaviors on this list are inexcusable, unethical, and highly illegal. If you are in the business and you use these tactics, give yourself a gut check, because you are in this business for the wrong reasons. Here are five things that a private investigator can NEVER do under any circumstances.

1. A private investigator can not enter your private property under any circumstances.

No Trespassing
No Trespassing

This is rule #1 for a reason. This one will get a private investigator in a world of trouble faster than almost anything else. We are bound by the same trespassing laws as anyone else. That means that we cannot break into someone’s home, office, or vehicle to “get dirt” on him or her. We can’t even step foot on your property without your permission. We can’t place secret, covert, hidden cameras on your porch or peek into your windows and videotape you watching tv (or doing anything else). Your property, your privacy, your secrets. We can’t get any of it.

The only exception to this rule is to serve process. Process servers can knock on your door (just like anyone else) and attempt to get you to answer. But they can never enter your home without your permission. Process servers cannot, however, enter a property that has a NO TRESPASSING sign posted. If you don’t want anyone on your property and make that wish known by placing a sign, it’s off-limits.

2. A private investigator cannot access your medical, financial, or educational records.

A private investigator has access to a wide array of information. However, there are certain things that are protected by the federal government and are, therefore, out of reach. Medical (HIPAA), financial, and educational (FERPA) records fall into that category. It is a felony for anyone other than that individual to access these records. Any private investigator who tells you that they can get these records is either a liar or a criminal and you should run.

3. We cannot misrepresent ourselves as a member of law enforcement (unless, of course, we are).

This one is also a big no-no. Thanks to the movies and television shows (Magnum, P.I. anyone?), the general public has come to associate private investigators with law enforcement and many attribute the same authority and power to private investigators as members of law enforcement. This is simply not true.

With very few exceptions, private investigators are bound by the same laws and restrictions as everyone else. This means that we cannot say we are police officers; it means we cannot wear clothing identifying us as law enforcement; it means we cannot carry badges stating that we are a member of the local police force in an attempt to manipulate someone into complying with our “orders.”

4. We can’t “hack” into someone’s electronic devices (cell phones, tablets, etc.).

Phone Hack
Phone Hack

Even the FBI can’t brute force your cell phone and get access without your authorization (or help). Remember that big case a while back where Apple refused to unlock the iPhone of the shooter at a naval base in Pensacola, Florida? Well, there is a reason why. Law enforcement did not possess the means to bypass software security measures and force open someone’s phone or tablet or computer.

This is not only illegal, but it is also very difficult to do, and most private investigators simply do not have the resources or the expertise (or the legal authority) to do it. Without a court order or the user’s express permission, there are no legal means of gaining access to another person’s private electronic devices. It just can’t be done, and no investigator who values his or her license will touch it with a ten-foot pole, so stop asking us to do it.

5. We cannot wiretap someone’s phone.

wiretapping
wiretapping

This, again, violates federal law. In some states, it is necessary to notify one party of the recording; in other states, both parties must be made aware. Wiretapping violates both of these mandates and, without a court order, is illegal in all fifty states.

In line with this, we also can’t install hidden cameras in someone’s house or hotel room without their knowledge and consent (which would, of course, invalidate the entire point of a “hidden” camera). So please don’t ask us to do it.

So, that was five things that a private investigator can not do under any circumstances. Laws vary by state, but the things we discuss here are illegal in all fifty states. If any private investigator ever offers you the services described in this article, run the other direction. That is not someone you want to do business with. It will invariably backfire and could wind up putting you both behind bars.

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Five Things a Private Investigator Can Do That Might Surprise You

What Can a Private Investigator Do?

Ever wonder what a private investigator can legally do during the course of an investigation? Here is a list of five things that a private investigator can do, along with some common misconceptions and best practices. For each item in this list, we will discuss some of the things we are allowed to do legally, a common misconception about this allowance, and why this misconception is incorrect. For a list of what we are NOT legally allowed to do, check out the upcoming companion piece to this one, Five Things a Private Investigator CAN NOT Do Under Any Circumstance.

1. As long as we aren’t on private property, a private investigator can sit outside of your house or workplace and watch everything you do.

Vehicle parked outside residence
https://diligentiagroup.com/legal-investigation/private-investigator-hired-to-follow-private-investigator/

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be vigilant about strange or suspicious vehicles parked on your street. If you see a vehicle that you feel doesn’t belong there, please call the police. The police will question the individual and make sure they have a legitimate reason for being there. And if not, they will force the person to leave.

MISCONCEPTION: I have to authorize any picture or video taken of me.

2. We can follow you wherever you go and record everything you do there (yes, even that).

Image of person being followed

This is kind of a corollary to #1 above, but I wanted to re-iterate it again. If we can “see” you from where we are on public property, you are fair game. Be VERY careful about what you do in public. We are very sneaky and have all kinds of high-tech sorcery that allow us to blend in and appear bland and nondescript. Forget the fedora, trenchcoat, and magnifying glass. We make our livings out of blending in and not drawing attention to ourselves. Again, if you notice we are there, we have failed.

MISCONCEPTION: If I am in my car, then what I do is private.

Negative. We can’t ENTER your vehicle (obviously), but your car has windows and we can see through those windows just like you can. If we can SEE it from public property, then we can RECORD it from public property. I’ll say it again for the people in the back: BE VERY CAREFUL WHAT YOU DO IN PUBLIC! If you don’t want to see yourself on video in a court of law one day or you are doing something you wouldn’t want your spouse to know about, think twice before doing it anywhere in public. Think twice before doing it at all, but you get my point.

3. We can go through your garbage.

Garbage bins

This one surprises a lot of folks. Destroy/shred/whatever anything you don’t want to be recorded, gone through, and shown to a judge/jury, your insurance company, or your spouse. Don’t throw away your bank statements, telephone records, or the receipts you used to take your mistress out on the town. Destroy them. Even shredding has its limitations and a highly skilled and resourceful private investigator can piece them back together again.

There is one caveat, though: we can’t touch it, look at it, open it, etc. until you set it out to be collected by the city. Trespassing laws are pretty strict and until you set it out on the street to be collected, it’s still on your property and we can’t touch it. We can, however, watch your property and scoop it up as soon as you set it out for the garbage man.

MISCONCEPTION: Because my trash is mine, it’s private and it’s safe from prying eyes.

Wrong. Once you set it out to be collected, it becomes public property and we are well within the law to drive right up to your curb, throw it in our vehicle, and speed off without you even knowing it’s been done. We just saved the garbage man a stop and your trash is now a treasure trove of useful information. Fans of the television show Columbo should know this was a favorite tactic of the famous detective. He always went through the trash. It can be a gold mine.

This is mainly because people aren’t careful about what they throw away. The trash is actually one of the worst places you can dispose of sensitive documents or information. Think before you throw anything away. There are many people who realize the potential in your garbage. Not only can private investigators use it for evidence, but it can also be a treasure trove for identity thieves.

Also, don’t set your trash out “the night before.” Wait until the morning of pickup to set out your trash and do it as close to pick up time as you can. This will minimize the window of time that thieves and others (we) have to scoop it up. If it’s out there all night while the whole world is asleep, then you’re just asking for it to end up on a table somewhere and poked through.

4. We can lie…to you, your family, and your acquaintances (NOT our clients, though)

This is given the fancy-sounding name “pretexting.” Whatever you call it, it’s basically lying and this right here is one of the many reasons private investigators have kind of a “shady” reputation with the general public. A pretext is a gambit designed to do one thing, trick you (or those who know you) into giving us information. And in this game, information is everything. Private investigators are in the information-gathering business. It’s what we do.

Cell phone with Unknown number on caller id

We can call, text, DM, etc. your family, your job, your neighbors, etc. and social engineer them in a way that sets them off guard and pushes them to inadvertently help us get information on you. Social engineering is essentially tricking someone into giving out information they wouldn’t normally divulge. It takes many forms and can be used for all kinds of nefarious practices by people with less-than-legal (or moral/ethical) intentions, but private investigators use it legally all the time. And your social media accounts make this almost effortless. It’s one of the first places we look. Pay very close attention to what you post online and what you allow others to “tag” you in, especially pictures. We have closed many cases of infidelity without even leaving the office simply by scouring social media and downloading pictures of the subject all smoochy-smoochy with someone who is not the spouse or significant other.

There are a couple things we can NOT do within this arena. We can’t misrepresent ourselves as law enforcement or a representative of a real-life company. That’s a big no-no. We also can’t misrepresent ourselves as a real person to get private information on that person. A private investigator can’t call your bank and pretend to be you in order to get information about your account, for example. But, we can certainly be your “long-lost classmate” who is looking for you so we can get your address for our upcoming class reunion, we can be an “old college buddy” from back in the day who is inviting people to the wedding of someone we know you have in common, or we can pretend to have something of value that you “dropped on the subway” and we would very much like to return it, if only we knew where you work so we could drop it off, etc. It sounds hokey and like something that would never work, but you’d be surprised at the information you can get if you ask for it the right way.

MISCONCEPTION: Any evidence gained via pretext or misdirection is inadmissible in court.

Wrong again. This is a common misconception spread by television and movies. Much like a police officer doesn’t have to tell you they are a police officer if you point-blank ask them (this is also a myth), a private investigator does not (and never would) disclose who they are during a pretext scenario. This would invalidate the entire reasoning behind the endeavor. We want the information, and as long as we don’t misrepresent ourselves as law enforcement or the representative of a real-life company (see above), then we can misdirect and set off-guard anyone we think can point us in the right direction.

5. We can use any public record available in order to deliver the most complete package of information to our clients.

Private investigators have access to all kinds of juicy information about you. You’d be awestruck at the sheer volume of information about you that is floating around in the world. Edward Snowden didn’t even scratch the surface of the surface. Everything you do online is cataloged and databased and essentially sold to the highest bidder under the context of “advertising.” Everything.

There are a few things we (or anyone else) aren’t privy to. For example, medical (HIPAA) and financial records are off-limits and protected by the federal government. Interestingly, so are educational credentials (FERPA). We can’t get your college transcripts, your bank records, or the results from your most recent doctor’s appointment. But pretty much everything else is available for the taking for someone who is crafty and knowledgeable enough to know where to find it. This skill oftentimes goes by the moniker OSINT (Open-Source INTelligence) and is a service we offer to our clients, both outbound (gathering outside information on another person) and inbound (shedding light on their own vulnerabilities).

OSINT

MISCONCEPTION: My information is private and protected and companies have my best interests in mind when they collect it.

Ha! That’s funny. I hope you’re starting to notice a pattern here. There is no more privacy in the digital world. For someone who is motivated enough, any information about you can be gotten with enough determination and skill. You’ve read the horror stories about identity theft and corporate hacking centered on the release of the personal data of thousands (or even millions) of unsuspecting and trusting individuals. These are real. Your information is NOT safe. Just do the best you can, cross your fingers, and hope for the best. There are a few things you can do to protect yourself and minimize your risk, but that is far outside the scope of this article.

Just know that your data is out there and it’s never coming back. Be very careful who you allow to have access to your information and check your passwords and privacy settings often. It’s the wild west out there.

Conclusion

So, that was five things that private investigators are legally allowed to do. There are many more, of course, and we will discuss those in a future post. Many of the laws governing private investigators are state-specific and what is allowed in one state may be banned in another (recording phone conversations, for example). But this list is pretty inclusive. Most of the private investigators licensed and working in the US today are able to (at a minimum) do the things outlined in this list. And it’s all perfectly legal.

Check out our next post where we will discuss some of the many things private investigators CAN NOT do, under any circumstances.

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Can Private Investigators Use Information on Social Media? Here’s How it Works

This post was originally published by El Dorado Insurance. It is reprinted here with permission.

Social Media Investigation?

With social media being a wealth of personal information stretching years into the past, it’s no surprise that these platforms have become treasure troves for all kinds of investigations. But at the same time, it is important for private investigators to know the boundaries when diving into social media – and to keep in mind how social media data fits into a larger investigation. Here’s what private investigators can do with social data, and when they are allowed to access it.

Social Media and the Reasonable Expectation of Privacy

What happens to private data that is posted on social media? Can it simply be collected as evidence? Do the wishes of the social media account holder make a difference? Fortunately, a lot of court time has already been spent on this issue, and it’s more or less resolved at this point: Social media platforms are considered public places. If someone posts their data to a public platform like this, that data cannot be held to the “reasonable expectation of privacy” that prevents other types of data from being gathered.

In other words, if a private investigator can find information on social media, they can use it for a case or hand it over as evidence to an attorney without worrying about legality. If data is limited to a circle of particular friends or a group, then private investigators probably won’t be able to access it unless they are invited into that particular group (which may be an option if the PI doesn’t lie or misrepresent themselves – a bit more on this below).

The Information PIs Collect on Social Media

Social media information is fair game if a PI can access it. But what sort of information can investigators collect? There isn’t really a limit for visual vs. text-based information. So, any photos, reposted images, hashtags, captions, text posts, or comments on other posts can be used by the private investigator. This also includes any visual information posted on platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. PIs have also found it very useful to look for certain types of geographical data (where photos are geotagged) and career information (available on sites like LinkedIn). This data and related metadata must be carefully cataloged and described – a simple print screen page is not high-quality evidence and could be challenged.

However, it’s important to remember that any social media data gathered must be 1) accurate, no apparent lies or exaggerations, and 2) relevant to the case at hand. This is a good sign that the data can be submitted as evidence without problems. On a practical level, there may also be so much social information that it would take too long to look at it all, which poses a different kind of challenge: This is one reason that some PIs are becoming specialists in social media investigation and searches.

Granting Access to Social Media Accounts

Suppose someone has locked down their social media account and most information is restricted. This is a foggier area, but one approach that has worked in the past is to simply ask a judge for a warrant. Demonstrate a sufficient likelihood that a social account holds pertinent information, and a judge should be able to grant access for a closer look.

The catch, of course, is that this applies to official investigations where a PI would most likely be working for an attorney, not independent investigations for a direct client. It’s important to explain these limitations to clients when starting a search for online data. Information that is to be used in court needs to be gathered by a professional third party, so a client can’t simply bring you social media data they’ve found and expect it to be successful evidence.

PIs Still Can’t Access Data Illegally

Trespassing and theft laws still apply to PIs when gathering social media info. In other words, keep it online and don’t do anything illegal. Key points include:

  • No breaking into homes: You can’t break into a home (or business) to access social media accounts on a computer where they may all be unlocked. That’s a clear example of breaking the law.
  • No hacking electronic devices: Likewise, you can’t electronically break into someone’s phone to access information. That includes any hacking methods, stealing the phone, etc.
  • No phishing attempts: PIs can’t gain access to social media information by pretending to be someone else, or by knowingly connecting with a social media account of someone represented by a lawyer in the case you are on. The law is still making up its mind at this point, but essentially you need to avoid any fraud or appearance of fraud.

The Stored Communications Act

While it’s not necessarily relevant to a private investigation, it’s important to keep in mind that in the past social media platforms have used the Stored Communications Act to refuse to provide social media data right from their own servers to law enforcement organizations. This refusal has been challenged in several ways and the ultimate result is still a bit unclear, but generally social media companies themselves will only provide information for a clear criminal case, only upon request from law enforcement.

Final Notes: Validation and Confirmation are Still Important

For a final reminder, we want to point out that it’s still important to validate any information that you may collect off social media. Make sure it’s not fake and have other sources of data that corroborate any important details! Social media is important these days, but it’s only part of the picture for a successful investigation.

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Our Top 10 Favorite Pieces of Gear (And Some From Our Wishlist)

The Private Investigation Gear We Use


We are excited to announce that this article has been published by Pursuit Magazine! Check out the published version.


Gear is a very important part of any private investigator’s toolbox. The tools of our trade are usually pretty high-tech and oftentimes quite expensive. Private investigators are usually very opinionated on gear and we can talk about it nonstop if you let us (and sometimes even if you don’t). We are very vocal in our support of one brand or another and whether this will help us get evidence better or that will allow us to be just a wee bit sneakier. However, ultimately the investigation equipment we choose needs to accomplish three things: it needs to be useful, it needs to be durable, and it needs to be high-quality. If it makes us feel more covert and look super-cool in the process, all the better.

What Investigation Gear Do We Use on the Regular?

This is a list of our favorite indispensable pieces of private investigation gear we use while on surveillance:

  1. Camcorder – Our camcorder of choice is the Panasonic HC-V770 (~$499). It is a full-HD camcorder with a wide range of available accessories. It has a 20x optical zoom and 50x digital zoom. We want the most optical zoom we can get and this camera doesn’t disappoint. Between optical and digital, always go with the most optical zoom you can afford. Optical zoom is a measure of the physical movement of the lens, whereas digital zoom is some kind of internal software wizardry that usually ends up pixellating the image if you take it too far. The more optical zoom, the better. Don’t go for the 4K version (the HC-VX981K). It’s overkill and will needlessly chew through your memory card.
  2. Tripod – The Sirui 3T-35K Plus is a very good all-in-one. This baby can act as a monopod or a self-standing tripod. It comes with a ball head for adjusting the angle as well as an extension bar to give you a little more height. The three extending “feet” lock in place and give you a firm and flat support for your camera or camcorder. The legs can also fold in, turning the device into a very functional monopod. We do wish it were a bit taller, as we find that we have to either hold it or rest it on our thigh to give it the reach it needs to hold the camera high enough to see out the window. But, that’s really the only complaint. It’s built like a tank and feels very well-made.
  3. Dropcam – A dropcam is a small, battery-powered camera that can be hidden in a particular location and keeps an eye out while (hopefully) remaining undetected. They are motion-activated and, like a trail cam, will start recording when they sense something moving within their field of view. We usually use them in hotel hallways or lobbies to catch people going into or leaving hotel rooms with people they aren’t supposed to be with, etc. There are two types: rotating and fixed. The rotating type (~$125) is a small camera (much smaller than your cell phone) that has a small rotating head on it where the lens is located. This allows us to place it somewhere and rotate the head on an angle to specify where we want the camera to look. The fixed type (~$130) is slightly larger but doesn’t rotate. It does, however, have night vision, and we LOVE night vision!
  4. Keychain Camera – If we need to leave the safety and comfort of our cars and follow someone into a particular location, we need a video camera that is virtually undetectable. This one does the job. This is a camera that is disguised as a key fob. We put it on our keyrings and it looks exactly like that thing you use to unlock your car. Trust me, you can’t tell the difference. We can put it on a table or hold it in our hands while we follow a subject into the mall or the grocery store and get every move they make in public. It takes both video and still photographs. It’s actually kinda unnerving that these things exist, but we use them all the time. We like the Lawmate PV-RC200HD2 (~$300).
  5. Dashcam – This one is really more for our safety. Much like police dashcams that keep them honest and record any altercations that may take place, we use a dashcam for much the same reason. If we are following a subject in our vehicle and there is an altercation with a subject (they do happen), then we want everything on record. Not only does it help us should we need to go to trial, but it can also help law enforcement investigate should the unthinkable happen. Vantrue makes excellent dashcams and is the brand we chose. For our surveillance vehicles, we went with the Vantrue X4 UHD (~$179). This one IS 4K and for good reason. It records on a loop and gets very fine detail within a wide field of view. This can also help us document the location where we lost a subject, should that happen (*hangs head*). Oh, and this one has night vision, also!
  6. Binoculars – This one should be obvious. The closer we get to the person we are watching, the more likely we are to get spotted (“burned”), which would ruin the investigation. Therefore, we try to do everything we can to sit as far away from our subject as possible. Therefore, we need a pair of binoculars handy to zoom in and watch a location from afar. Many investigators simply use the zoom feature on their camcorders, but we feel that it is better to maintain our camera on a fixed position of interest and do the majority of our surveillance through the lens of a good pair of binoculars. We chose the Nikon Monarch 5 (~$325) and have no complaints whatsoever. It has a 12x zoom and is waterproof, fog-proof, and has a rubberized body in case you fumble and it gets away from you.
  7. Portable Power – We have to keep all of this gear powered up and running. Therefore, for longer surveillance jobs, we have to carry our power with us. We can’t always start our car and use the vehicle’s power adaptor. So, we need battery-powered capabilities. For strict battery power, we chose the Anker PowerCore 20100mAh (~$45 each) with 4.8V output and we carry at least two of them with us at all times. There is nothing worse than having the goods in your sights and having your battery go kaput on you. We have backups of our backups and everything is always fully-charged when we walk out of the office. Clients don’t want to hear that you missed out on the evidence they need because you were too careless to make sure you had juice when you needed it. These are invaluable and, in actuality, we will probably end up getting a couple more. If we are able to keep our vehicle running, then a power inverter can be a lifesaver. This can keep your phone, iPad, computer, etc. all charged and ready to go. The Bestek 300W 4.2V power inverter (~$35) is what we chose and it’s very nice. It comes with two 110V plugs and two USB charging ports.
  8. Air Compressor/Battery Jumpstarter – You know the saying, “S**t happens”? Murphy rules the road when you are 300 miles from home and all alone at 3 am in the middle of nowhere and you can’t get a signal on your phone to call AAA when your battery dies from charging all this cool crap. Well, Pilgrim, if you have the Clore Jump-n-Carry JNCAIR 1700 (~$230) with you, then you can consider your bacon saved. This thing has an integrated air compressor and battery charger in it that can get you back on the road like it never happened. No need for a second vehicle to jump you. It is completely self-contained. If you have a flat and your tire is beyond saving (i.e., blowout, etc.) make sure to always have a spare tire, jack, flashlight, and flares on hand to repair any flats along the way.
  9. Tablet – This one seems to be on everyone’s list lately and is self-explanatory. We go paperless when we can and, these days, a tablet is simply a must. You could use your cell phone, but if you have your GPS up and a call comes through while you’re trying to check an address change the client just gave you, etc, etc, etc, it helps to have something else to go to with this stuff. Plus, note-taking apps, such as Notability, can help you keep all your pertinent information right there in front of your face so you don’t have to go looking for it. This allows us to keep our phones free and not get tangled up in multi-tasking on a single device. We also have our CROSStrax case management app up so that we can keep any case-related information handy, as well as edit the master case file as we go.
  10. Digital Camera – Honestly, we will probably get roasted by our colleagues for this, but we really don’t use the digital camera all that much. The cameras on cell phones these days are more than adequate for time/date stamp photos and to snap a pic of an address or a vehicle or someone coming in or out of somewhere. In all honesty, we use the camera on our cell phone way more than we do the digital camera. However, every once in a while, when we need a lot of zoom on a still image and don’t think the evidence would be better suited in video format, we will whip out our Nikon CoolPix 950 and use that sweet, sweet 83x optical zoom to snap a quick pic or two of what we see. But, 90% of the time, we either get it on video (camcorder) or we just use our iPhones.

And Now for the Stuff We WISH We Had (or could afford):

  1. A DRONE! – Man-oh-man, do I wish I had a drone.
  2. SiOnyx Aura Night Vision Camcorder – Again, NIGHT VISION! And this baby does it in FULL COLOR!!
  3. Rode RODECaster PRO Podcast Production Studio – The creme de la creme of outboard podcasting sound engineering and I want one!
  4. Zoom H6 6-track Portable RecorderPodcast from anywhere? Yes, Please!
  5. DefCon Countermeasure Sweep Equipment – DefCon makes excellent countermeasure sweep equipment, but they are PRICEY! One day, if the demand is there, we will upgrade. DD1206, PRO-10G, DD802, and the crown jewel DD1207!

And that’s it! This pretty much sums up the private investigation gear and equipment we use every day and shows a few of the things on our wishlist. If you are in the biz, do you agree or disagree with our suggestions? Leave a comment down below if you use some of the same things we do or if you think what you use is better.

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The Investigation Guru – Episode 2

This is the second full-length episode of The Investigation Guru podcast. The Investigation Guru is the official podcast for Red Door Investigations. Please also check out Episode One of the podcast where we discuss the psychology behind infidelity as well as some tips to help overcome the betrayal.

Caution: This episode might be disturbing for some listeners. This is a horrible case and is not one for the kiddos.

In this episode, we discuss the gruesome and disturbing case of Army PFC Vanessa Guillén. She went missing from Fort Hood in Kileen, TX in April of this year. Another soldier, US Army Specialist Aaron David Robinson, 20, is the main suspect in Vanessa Guillén’s death. After bludgeoning her with a hammer, he folded her body into a tough box, put her in his truck, and departed the base. He then called his girlfriend to help him set her body on fire before dismembering and disposing of her remains. Over a month went by with nothing breaking. A group of workers found her remains and called police. Police quickly set Rodriguez as the main suspect, as he was the last person to see her alive. As police approached to arrest him, he took his own life. Authorities later arrested Robinson’s girlfriend Cecily Aguilar for conspiracy to tamper with evidence in connection with the disposal of the body.

This episode is also on YouTube!

Here is the sworn affidavit in the Cecile Aguilar case.

Cecily Aguilar Criminal Complaint

Make sure you tune in to The Investigation Guru podcast regularly for more true-crime and private investigation content.

You can subscribe to this podcast by heading to our Subscribe to Podcast page. The Investigation Guru podcast is hosted on Blubrry and is available wherever you get your podcasts. You can visit the podcast’s page by going to our Blubrry site.

Tune in next time when we discuss the international travesty of human trafficking and the sex trade.

Thank you for listening to this episode of The Investigation Guru podcast and we will see you next time!

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The Investigation Guru – Episode 1

This is the first full-length episode of The Investigation Guru podcast. The Investigation Guru is the official podcast for Red Door Investigations. In this episode, we discuss the psychology behind infidelity and some common signs to look out for in your relationship, as well as some tips on healing and overcoming the betrayal. Tune in every week for more true-crime and private investigation content.

This episode is also on YouTube!

You can subscribe to this podcast by heading to our Subscribe to Podcast page. The Investigation Guru podcast is hosted on Blubrry and is available wherever you get your podcasts. You can visit the podcast’s page by going to our Blubrry site.

Tune in next time when we discuss the gruesome and disturbing case of Army PFC Vanessa Guillén. She went missing from Fort Hood in Kileen, TX in April of this year. Another soldier, US Army Specialist Aaron David Robinson, 20, is the main suspect in Ms. Guillén’s death. After bludgeoning her with a hammer, he folded her body into a tough box, put her in his truck, and departed the base. He then called his girlfriend to help him set her body on fire before dismembering and disposing of her remains. Over a month went by with nothing breaking. A group of workers found her remains and called police. Police quickly set Rodriguez as the main suspect, as he was the last person to see her alive. As police approached to arrest him, he took his own life. Authorities later arrested Robinson’s girlfriend Cecily Aguilar for conspiracy to tamper with evidence in connection with the disposal of the body.

Thank you for listening to this episode of The Investigation Guru podcast and we will see you next time!

Sharing is caring!

The Investigation Guru – Episode 0

This is the introductory episode of The Investigation Guru podcast. The Investigation Guru is the official podcast for Red Door Investigations. In this episode, we introduce ourselves and layout the purpose of the podcast. Tune in every week for more true-crime and private investigation content. We are still ironing out the technical difficulties but should post pretty regularly once we get everything worked out.

This episode is also on YouTube!

You can subscribe to this podcast by heading to our Subscribe to Podcast page. This podcast is hosted on Blubrry and will soon be available on many of your favorite stations. You can visit the podcast’s page by going to our Blubrry site. Please give it a few weeks and then subscribe wherever you listen to your podcasts.

Tune in next time when we will discuss some common signs of infidelity. Both Danna and Shaun will weigh in and offer you both the male and the female perspective on cheating in relationships. We will discuss how infidelity affects each gender differently and some tools that each can use to overcome infidelity. You’ll enjoy this personal look at what cheating and infidelity can do to relationships and some of the tools you can use to make yourself whole.

Thank you for listening and we will see you next time!

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Twenty Signs of a Cheating Spouse (That May Not Be Obvious)

Does Your Spouse Show Any of These Signs of Cheating?

Has your significant other been acting differently than usual and you are wondering whether he or she might be cheating?

There are many behavior “signs” of cheating and infidelity. If you ask 100 experts, you will probably get 100 different answers. I did a pretty quick Google search and found countless lists similar in content to this one. The sources ranged from Psychology Today to Oprah. Many of the behaviors listed in these articles were pretty off-the-wall. However, when I began to look a bit deeper, I started noticing some trends and commonalities. The 20 behavior signs outlined in this article pretty accurately reflect a solid mixture of the behavior cues you should watch out for.

  1. The first thing to look for is changes in your spouse’s behavior and/or schedule. Staying out late, “working” more than usual, taking “business” trips that seem to come out of the blue with little notice or warning, and so on. These small deviations from your spouse’s normal schedule are usually the first clue that something is amiss. 
  2. Another common sign of a cheating spouse is an unusual preoccupation with protecting their cell phone. This one is huge because it is often an indicator they are hiding something.
  3. Is your spouse or loved one more concerned about their looks or appearance than usual? They could be trying to impress someone new.
  4. There are more arguments in your relationship and the arguments are more frequent.
  5. They are spending more time away from home. This not only applies to work but can also mean going out with friends or co-workers more often.
  6. Your spouse or loved one receives phone calls during all hours of the day and/or night. They may also seek a safe haven away from the house or, more importantly, away from you to answer these calls. Increased need/desire for “privacy” can mean they are doing things they don’t want you to know about.
  7. They tell little white lies about where they are going. For instance, they say they need to run to the store but you find they are actually somewhere else, like at the gym.
  8. This one may seem obvious, but a man taking Viagra for the first time or a woman starting birth control.
  9. You smell perfume or cologne on your significant other that is not yours.
  10. Being overly private and/or protective of any electronic device, such as a computer, tablet, etc.
  11. You find a spare change of clothes in the car.
  12. Credit card receipts from purchases you don’t recognize. This is oftentimes a sign they are going out without you or buying gifts for someone else.
  13. A sudden and drastic change, up or down, in sexual behavior, desires, or intimacy in your relationship.
  14. Frequent and sudden anger outbursts toward you that have nothing to do with you. This is often a subconscious attempt to “distance” themselves from you emotionally or the relationship as it is now.
  15. There is a reluctance of intimacy or poor excuses for their behavior to be reluctant.

Common Things a Cheating Spouse May Say

  1. “He/she is just a friend.”
  2. “I am just not in the mood lately.”
  3. “I just need space.”
  4. “It’s not you, it’s me.”
  5. “Please respect my privacy.”

Conclusion

In closing, it is important to remember that seeing some of these signs in your mate is not proof that your partner is seeing someone else. More importantly, do not lose sight of the fact that you have invested a great deal of emotional energy into your relationship and, if the worst does end up being the case, please maintain hope that not all is lost. If you do happen to find irrefutable evidence of infidelity or cheating and you want to overcome this breach of trust, it is not hopeless. Couples overcome infidelity all the time. If you have any desire to work it out with your spouse, then I strongly encourage you to try. Just because you see some of these signs in your relationship does NOT mean that your partner is being unfaithful.

Furthermore, this list is by no means complete. There are many signs of a cheating spouse that do not make this list and there are instances where your spouse can show many of these behaviors and nothing is going on. The only way to know for sure is to get some proof. If you are unsure how to proceed, I would recommend hiring a local private investigator to gather some evidence for you before you accuse your significant other of any wrongdoing. Usually, most of our clients already know the truth and are just seeking reassurance and verification that what they suspect is actually what is happening. Follow your gut, but don’t make waves where there are none.

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