If you’ve ever seen a spy movie, you might believe that every private investigator has a room dedicated to gadgets, gizmos, and weapons that can help take down a perpetrator. While the tools for a private investigator are not as sensational as movies would like to admit, there are several very cool technologies that private investigators use in real life that will blow your mind.
1. Mini Cameras – If you can imagine it, there is probably someone who’s put a video camera on it. From clocks to keys, video camera technology has gotten so effective that they can be placed on almost any kind of object. Remember the camera glasses from Mission Impossible? Today, those are old technology. Now, we have hidden video watches, fountain pens, smoke detectors, and even clothes hooks.
2. Data Retrieval Tools – We tend to think that if we’ve deleted a piece of data from a computer or phone, it vanishes from existence. In fact, almost everything that you do or say in a digital format is backed up in a special area of your computer or phone’s hard drive. Detectives can invest in “phone sticks” that will find deleted data and allow it to be copied to the device.
3. Video Phones – One of the newest tools in the detective arsenal is the remote-controlled IP phone camera. It looks like a regular phone, but an investigator can remotely control the video device at will, turning it into an innocuous surveillance tool.
4. GPS Trackers – It’s always helpful to know where your subject is headed. Fortunately, GPS tracking has made that easier than ever. Investigators have many different types of GPS tools at their disposal, from ones that connect to a vehicle’s Onboard Diagnostic Port (OBD Port) to the quarter-sized GPS Retriever Tracker, which can be attached to a phone or even a key.
5. Defensive Weapons – Although private investigators are not often in dangerous situations, any investigator worth his or her salt will be prepared for potential aggression. Some PIs may invest in a concealed carry permit and small handgun to keep them safe from attack. Others may choose to have a non-lethal weapon to deal with aggressive people or animals that may attempt to harm them in the line of duty. These weapons can include stun guns, tasers, pepper spray, light guns, or impact guns.
6. Backup Electrical/Photographic Gear – Since documentation is the name of the game, it pays for every investigator to have backup batteries, chargers, and converters. No one wants to be at the crux of a video investigation and have the feed cut out due to lack of electricity. Investigators may also have backup car batteries, flashlights, flash drives, and memory cards.
7. Investigative Software – While you may know that private investigators and detectives use programs like Facebook and Twitter to catch wrongdoers, you might not know about some of the other computer programs that investigators have at their disposal. Mobile phone tracking and forensics allows investigators to monitor the behavior of certain cell phone users. Specialized background checking software allows investigators to glean information about a person’s past residences, their phone numbers, and employers. Financial scrubbing software allows investigators to see unusual transactions, often ones that have been deleted by the handler.
Often, a person will call an investigator when they can’t find proof of a suspected activity. Although skill plays a huge part in getting data on a person who is trying to lay low, access to equipment and technology is also a major part of getting the proof of wrongdoing that will hold up in a court of law. And, although it’s not quite as exciting as the movies portray, the technology is just as cool.