Skip tracing is a difficult, but valuable tool for any private investigator. Skip tracing is the practice of tracking down someone who has skipped town. Typically used to find people that are trying to avoid paying a debt or have skipped out on bail, a skilled skip tracer can run down sources to find just about anyone.
Skip tracers are only as good as the information they can procure. The first step in skip tracing is building a database of every thing you can possibly know about who you’re tracking. By searching through publicly available databases like telephone directories and social media sites, tracers can figure out who their target is and who they associate with. Skip tracers also search for past bills or debts to see where the missing person has lived in the past and who with.
Once enough data has been compiled, skip tracers sift through it to create a profile of their target. Combing through this data is one of the most difficult parts of skip tracing and will separate the inexperienced tracers from the veterans. Making a mistake at this stage can be costly.
Tracers have to know which bits of information are worth using and which are wastes of times. Some data may be outdated or contradicted by further research. Poorly assessing one data point can send the tracer and their profile in the complete wrong direction and it can take a while before that becomes evident.
With a completed profile, it’s time for the tracer to get out and talk to people in the area to find out more. Friends and family of the missing person can be great for getting an idea of where to look, but how forthcoming will they be? If they know someone’s looking for their friend or kin, they’ll be more guarded about discussing them.
Tracers need to know how to talk people and work them for information without tipping their hand. Slipping up can result in the missing person getting tipped off that the heat is on them. If the target knows people are coming for them, they’ll put more effort into concealing their movement and they’ll become more difficult to predict.
Surveillance and efficient work are the other keys to quality tracer work. Tracers need to be willing to sit on a location and watch it to determine if their target is in the area. Even when their target doesn’t show up, it’s important that tracers are dedicated and willing to determine who is coming around. The target might not have stopped in, but one of the visitors could be their girlfriend or sibling.
When someone is on the lamb it’s not out of the question that they would use a third party to relay messages or transport supplies. The only way to figure out who’s stopping in and why is through consistent surveillance and tracking. Dedicated surveillance is time consuming, but incredibly valuable.
Skip tracing is a skill developed over years of practice. There are seminars and limited classes that can teach people the basics, but veteran tracers will tell you hands-on experience is the only way to truly learn. Skip tracing can help close a case fast and every investigator should either be competent in doing it themselves or have trusted people at the ready to handle it.
For Private Investigation Inquiry contact Thomas Lauth, Lauth Investigations 317-951-1100