But he’s helped reunite parents with their runaway children, exposed people lying on workers’ compensation cases and even spent four months on a company bowling team to build trust so he could root out workplace crime.
The 48-year-old Elgin man and private investigator shared anecdotes and dispelled some myths about the work of detectives on Sunday afternoon while promoting his book, “Private Investigation: A Guide for the Beginner,” at Books At Sunset in Elgin.
“It’s not always like Agatha Christie where you have high friends in high places to help you along the way,” said Herdrich.
He described his book as a general reader about how to get started pursuing a career in the field. The book also contains real-life stories about some of the cases during his 19-year career.
He specializes in fraud investigations, criminal defense and locations, such as finding runaways or the birth parents of clients who were adopted.
Herdrich, who has taught continuing education classes on private investigation at Elgin Community College for five years and Harper College in Palatine for three years, said he doesn’t like to do surveillance work because it’s time consuming and he can only focus on one case.
He likes “the puzzle” behind location-type cases.
“Communication skills are so important in this industry because you don’t know who you’re going to have to talk to to get information,” he said. “A good private detective is the first person to arrive, the last person to leave and the person nobody remembers that much about.”
Herdrich said private investigators in Illinois must be licensed by the state, but there is no formal college program to earn a degree to become a detective.
A lot of investigators have military or law enforcement backgrounds, but it’s not essential. Future private eyes must work several years for a licensed investigator and later pass a state test.
“There’s no real education. I’d like to see that changed,” he said.
Herdrich is slated to speak again at 2 p.m. April 25 at Books at Sunset, 1100 South St. For more information, call (847) 888-1868.