I get asked this question a lot. I suppose people read and see fictional private eyes doing all kinds of dangerous, risk-taking actions in books and film so they assume that’s how it is in real life, too. My general response is that, like many things in life, it’s wise to practice common sense and take precautions when necessary. When you go to a store at night, don’t park in a dark, isolated area–better yet, go during the daylight hours. That kind of common sense stuff.
But even saying that, I’ll add that private investigations can be dangerous at times if the person isn’t paying attention and taking precautions in certain situations. Two of these potentially dangerous situations I’ll list below.
Process Services: Get In, Get Out
In this blog, I’ve written about some dangerous process service situations I’ve been in. I’ve also previously mentioned how a process server in our state was murdered several years back in the course of his serving legal papers.
When my husband and I started our investigations business, we would sometimes talk to the people to whom we were serving papers. The person might ask, “What are these papers? What am I supposed to do?” And we’d take the time to explain that the attorney’s name and contact information was listed on the papers and they should contact him/her to discuss it.
These days, I limit my conversation to verifying the person’s identity and to briefly explaining that I’m serving business or legal papers to them.
Then I leave.
In other words, I get in and get out. No dawdling. If they say, “What are these papers about?” I might say over my shoulder as I’m walking away, “Contact the attorney listed on the papers.”
But I’m not hanging around to chat.
In the last six months, I’ve had two women go ballistic on me after serving them legal papers. Both times, the women followed me to my car, yelling and screaming and calling me a few colorful names. One was waving her fists and I knew if I stopped, one of them might land on me.
But did the danger level differ because I was a female versus a male PI? It’s conceivable that people might stereotype a female PI as being more vulnerable, but to my mind, it wouldn’t have mattered if a man or woman served papers to these two women. What was important was for me to not engage in a verbal confrontation, and to leave immediately.
Surveillances in Bad Neighborhoods
In the past, I’ve conducted surveillances in some bad neighborhoods, and yes, I have felt more vulnerable being a female PI in those instances. My safety precautions have included:
- Ensuring that all my doors are locked
- Parking in an area that isn’t isolated
- Not moving around a lot (or conducting other activities, such as turning on the motor or the inside lights) that draw attention to my being in the car
- Leaving if the situation feels dicey.
This past year, our investigations agency morphed into a law firm-investigations agency, and I’ve been conducting more legal investigations on behalf of the law firm (preparatory work for litigation), and less surveillances. That’s fine by me.
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5 Stars for The Zen Man
"A fantastic read from start to finish. Reminded me a great deal of the works of Robert Crais and Robert B Parker." ~MacKenzie Brown
2011 – 2012 Book Blog Tour Articles
January 14, 2012: Interview w/ Colleen at Chatterrific
February 3, 2012: Coffee Time Romance: The Zen Man-Read It, Wear It
February 14, 2012 Terry's Place: Lust, Ethics, and the Private Eye
February 17, 2012 Savvy Authors: Tips from a PI-Tracking the Bad Guys in Stories
February 27, 2012 Elizabeth A White blog: Do Private Eyes Solve Murders?
February 28, 2012 Book Reviews by Elizabeth A White: The Zen Man
March 10, 2012 StoreyBook Reviews: Interview and Review
March 22, 2012 Minding Spot: Book Review
April 17, 2012 Fresh Fiction: 5 Hot Private Eye Heroes