Some may call him a dinosaur in the field of private investigations. Others would refer to him as a mentor. One thing we would all agree on, Thomas Lauth, a twenty-year veteran PI and owner of Lauth Investigations International is one private investigator that stands out in the crowd. While I am not referring to “standing out” in a literal sense as good investigators are experts at blending in, enabling them to conduct their investigations. More so, I am referring to the individual many of us lucky enough not to be the target of one of Lauth’s investigations.
Lauth founded the Indianapolis based private investigation firm, Lauth Investigations International (LII), in 1995, expanding over the years with offices in Miami, Florida and Boulder, Colorado. With a team of private investigators, Lauth specializes in investigations for attorney, corporations, and private individuals throughout the country. In fact, many investigations have even taken Lauth overseas to work on international investigations.
While some of us may conjure visions of James Bond espionage spy adventures when thinking about the life of a private investigator, reality is, some investigations have taken Lauth to the seedy and very dangerous underground worlds of art thieves, pimps, and child sex slavery to the corporate ladder of fraud and embezzlement. The high-life it is not, with long hours, a private eye must be dedicated and exercise perseverance to solve a case, not to mention, maybe a little bit of a glutton for punishment.
Lauth received a B.A. in Political Science at Indiana State University and went on to receive extensive law enforcement training and continuing legal education to include criminal defense and death penalty cases, forensic pathology, missing person investigations, death investigations, human trafficking, child abduction, evidentiary and various crime scene methods. No mistake, Lauth has a yearning for learning but this quality has certainly contributed to making him a knowledgeable, top-notch private investigator.
Early in Lauth’s career, he became Senior Criminal Investigator for the Marion County Public Defender Agency, representing indigent defendants conducting comprehensive criminal investigations. Lauth went on to pursue his dream of becoming a Sherlock Homes of sorts, and continues to work cooperatively with local, state and federal law enforcement to include INTERPOL, the FBI, the U.S. State Department and foreign embassies while pursuing leads in investigations. Lauth also serves as a Referral Investigator for attorneys, defendants, insurance companies, and the public. Lauth has had an impressive career indeed.
I met Lauth nearly twenty years ago while CEO of the Nation’s Missing Children Organization and National Center for Missing Adults (NCMA), from 1994-2010. Our initial meeting was at a two-day conference in San Diego presented by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Delinquency and Prevention (OJJDP), with nonprofit agencies and advocates for missing children throughout the country in attendance. Following the first day of training, about nine of us decided to drive to get a bite to eat and socialize. I just happened to be driving a Chevy Suburban and a quick show of hands it was decided that everyone would drive in my vehicle. I will never forget Tom offering to sit in the very back of the Suburban with his rollerblades in tow. That would be the beginning of many years of working with a respected colleague but also an individual I consider a good friend.
During my tenure at NCMA, Tom provided hundreds of families of missing persons with pro bono and reduced cost services they would not have received otherwise and lessened the frustration for families when cases would stall or go cold. Over the years, those of us at NCMA shed some tears of sorrow but also celebrated many reunifications of missing persons and their families, and it could not have occurred without Tom’s help. For that, we are forever grateful.
Moving forward two decades, Tom continues to work on missing person cases and has sponsored the Missing Person Advocacy Network (MPAN) providing a website where the stories of missing persons can continue to be told in an effort to raise awareness for missing persons.
In the last several years, I have had the opportunity to learn more about private investigation techniques alongside an individual who I consider a mentor. During Lauth’s most recent visit to Phoenix, he informed me that I would have to attend a Bikram Yoga class as part of my educational experience. Of course, I agreed but had no idea that I would be in a room heated to 105 degrees for 90 minutes attempting to contort myself into a series of 26 postures while glancing over at Tom who did not appear to break a sweat and could have been teaching the class. An experience I will never forget as two senior women applauded that I endured the pain and completed the 90-minute class.
Why am I telling the country about Bikram Yoga classes and rollerblades? Well, a prehistoric dinosaur in the field of private investigations, Tom is not. Tom competes in obstacle course races throughout the country, Spartan and daily trail runs. Married to Rain Lauth, who is the Director of Operations at LII, both are focused on maintaining a family atmosphere at LII, despite their incredible growth in the last couple of years.
To take their vision one-step further, Tom and Rain created the Unclaimed Assets Division of LII. Many might be surprised that there is as much as $58 billion in unclaimed assets held indefinitely by state government. By law, every state in the U.S. must protect and hold unclaimed assets until the rightful owner or heir is located. Unclaimed assets can include checking or savings accounts, safe deposit boxes, utility deposits, insurance policies, stocks, trust distributions and more. The problem is, governmental agencies do not have the resources available to effectively and efficiently locate rightful owners, as reflected by the billions that sit idle.
Two years ago, Tom and Rain began to focus on how they could utilize their investigative experience to benefit the community and created a new mission at LII, that of “rightfully returning assets to owners and their heirs”. In two years, Lauth’s team has returned over $30 million dollars to rightful owners. The successes and letter of gratitude from those they have helped has not been without sweat, tears, and trial and error but they never abandoned their mission.
As a business leader and private investigator, this is why Tom stands out in the crowd. Tom believes that success in business is not only making a profit but also setting an example and fulfilling a commitment to supporting one’s community. By Focusing on unclaimed assets as an area of service that benefits the public while still enabling LII to grow and profit.
As a long-time colleague of Tom’s, I have observed a young private sleuth become a responsible businessman and community leader, I may not take a Bikram Yoga class again, but it is my honor to tell Tom’s story of success.