Effective PIs know how to maneuver.

Not everything can be taught. Either you have it or you don’t. That’s the way it goes, sometimes.

As far as private investigators are concerned, they have to possess a certain set of skills that allows them to get the job done without blowing their cover. They know how to approach certain situations and know how and when to move and where to move to. They know the props they might need. They know how to stay in character. They know the signs to look for.

They know how to maneuver.

Training is necessary. That part is sort of like music theory. It provides explanations. It tells them what is happening and tells them what to do and why they’re doing what they’re doing. The actual surveillance is the test. Private investigators must apply what they’ve learned in training and use whichever tactics are applicable, because they may not all be necessary in a given situation. The answers aren’t laid out, so it’s up to them to decide what to do and how to do it. ♦

 

Transcript:

…so when I go out on a surveillance, and I know Charles; this is Charles Boneh. He’s a surveillance operator that works with me. He has his own company out of Miami. He has similar training but from a foreign government.

When we go out on surveillance, we just don’t pull up our car, sit, and hope the guy comes out of the house or, you know, that sort of thing. I remember a job that Charles did for me, I think it was up in Stuart or one of those places up there, where his training was able to get the goods of the person…he was outside, up the street, maybe 50 yards up from the house. He’s watching it. But he’s also listening. He’s looking at what’s going on. And he hears this noise coming from the back of the house.

So, he leaves his surveillance position and drives around the corner and starts going up this little hill. And he looks back down at the house and hears the person that we’re trying to surveille, in the swimming pool, a young lady who says she cannot bend, she cannot use her back, she’s in all kinds of trouble and distress because she was in this automobile accident. And here she is, diving into her pool. Charles is sitting there videotaping her, you know. She gets out of the pool, gets up on her lounge chair, and she starts stretching her legs, touching her forehead with her legs, and Charles has got her all on tape.

Now, I believe that any other surveillance operator would’ve stayed in his static position and waited til somebody came out the door to get in their car to go follow them wherever they were gonna go. It’s a difference in training.

So, make sure that your P.I. that you’re using to do surveillance specializes in it. He’s got some skills. He knows how to manipulate. He knows how to be a chameleon. He can change colors, change looks. He’s got a variety of cameras, not only handheld, but hidden, a buttonhole in your glasses, in your baseball cap. Whatever the situation may need. Because your player may get out of the car and go into a mall. Well, hey, this is the best time. Let’s get in there with a hidden camera and follow this person around while they’re carrying bagloads of stuff when they say they can’t carry anything. Or doing their shopping, standing on their feet when they say they can’t walk. These are the different kinds of skills that I’m talking about.

Investigative Services we Offer

Investigative Services We Offer

Although the bulk of our work comes from clients wanting documents served, we also conduct investigations and carry out the investigative services mentioned in this graphic, on a regular basis. People who request these services may include attorneys doing work for insurance companies and insurance companies themselves, for instance, when accidents happen.

Investigations can range from minor to in-depth, depending on the information being sought and the severity of the matter at hand. At the end of the day, they are always needed.

25 Years in Business

25 years in business.png

It is an honor to say we’ve come this far. But, more importantly, the only reason we are here is because of YOU. So, first things first, we want to simply say, “Thank you,” for your business and for trusting us to carry out your service of process and investigative needs.

During these 25 years, we have built countless relationships, many of which are still standing strong today. With these bonds has come trust from all parties involved, and this is the main reason why we have been able to maintain our reputation within the legal realm of South Florida.

With our recent change in ownership, we are looking forward to taking our business to the next level. This involves optimization and servicing more clients on a more widespread basis, implementing the advantages technology has the opportunity to provide. But in order to effectively expand, we have to first make internal expansions. In the past couple years alone, we have made adjustments in different areas, in an effort to better please you and to increase our exposure and to ensure we are carrying out our services to the best of our ability. As with anything, if you want to see something different, you have to do something different. So, we are taking heed to this ideology and are wishing for the best, moving forward.

That being said, we are always open to your questions and concerns and any suggestions you, our clients, may have. Taking the time out to voice your thoughts to us allows us to see the other side of the business, from your perspective. And engaging with that point of view helps us to identify any areas that may need improvement. So, please, feel free to reach out to us or leave reviews on any platform. We appreciate the feedback.

Thank you, again, for allowing us to see 25 years in business. Here’s to many more to come!

We’re here to please you.

You, the client, are our number one priority. Therefore, we always want to complete service, and we always try our best to get this done as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

 

Transcript: 

If we don’t get the guy, then we have to face you.

You have to understand that it’s an embarrassment for us, as professionals, that we haven’t gotten the guy served yet. We like to get them served the first time out. Be done with it. Get rid of that person. Because, the quicker we turn in the paper, we’re on to something else.

Most process servers will serve twenty to forty papers a day, good process servers. That includes your records custodian subpoenas all the way up to your divorce summonses.

Keep the PI in the loop.

Surveillance is a key aspect of private investigation work.

Clients may request surveillance when they know their target subject will be difficult to capture through traditional methods of service of process alone. Or they may want to gain more insight on an individual or a location. At the end of the day, the client wants to build a case, so private investigators step in to help make this happen.

Here, you can learn more about the different instances that sometimes require private investigation. Surveillance can be used in all types of cases and usually requires extensive work by the private investigator, meaning hours of observation. However, the investigator can only work with what the client provides. This means the client must allot a certain number of hours to get the job done and must give as detailed of a description as possible of the subject, for instance, so the investigator knows what, or who, to look for. Other details include the model and make of the subject’s vehicle(s) and daily routines.

This page gives a nice and brief overview of how a PI moves. A reasonable number of hours are needed as surveillance requires the investigator to sit for hours on end and do nothing but watch for activity, which, sometimes, doesn’t even happen.

The client pays for the type of surveillance that will get done. In other words, you get what you pay for. If the client only chooses to pay for an hour of surveillance, chances are, he or she won’t reap much. But if at least four or five hours are on the table, for instance, the probability of obtaining something valuable would be much higher.

Just as with service of process, the client must put himself or herself in the private investigator’s shoes. The client should ask him- or herself questions such as:

  • What time of day should this be done?
  • What does John Doe’s typical schedule look like?
  • What does John Doe look like?
  • What are we trying to prove?

Most importantly, it should be remembered that the PI and the client are working together as a team. That’s what matters and is what helps to make the job successful. ♦

 

Transcript:

When you set up a surveillance, make sure you give your operator all of the information he’s gonna need, especially how many hours you’re gonna give him. Don’t shortchange yourself. Don’t think you’re gonna find somebody and follow them and give the guy eight hours to do it when it’s a very important, high-profile, high-dollar case. Don’t do that, because you’re not gonna get anything; you’re gonna waste your money.

So, it’s up to you, as paralegals, to convince your clients that, “Hey, you want the goods. Expect to spend some money.”

Most investigators do surveillance charge about $100 an hour, some a little more, some a little less. But it’s about an average of $100 an hour. Give them a dollar figure. You’ve got $3,000 to work with. I could videotape anybody anywhere in any position you want, okay, in 30 hours. Don’t say, “I need it done this morning,” and you’ve got four hours, because you barely get enough time to drive there in four hours in some of these things.

So, make sure that you have down the hours that the investigator can work and give them all the information possible, especially if you have pictures.

You don’t wanna do what I did once when I was doing a job. I was given an address, given a car, given a tag number, and I was told it was a Hispanic female. Period. I went there. I set up across the street. Hispanic female comes out of the house, gets to the same car, and she starts washing the car. Now, I got 45 minutes of a person washing a car, bending over, kneeling down, laying on a thing scrubbing things, every position you could possibly think of, and I’m thinking, “I got her solid.”

I come back. I present the tape to the attorney. He looks at it. He says, “That’s not her.” I said, “She’s Hispanic, female, this house, this address, this car.” He said, “Oh, no. The person we’re looking for is 280 pounds.”

Well, why didn’t you tell me this? This girl was a little 100-pound nothing. If we had that information, we wouldn’t have wasted the time, we wouldn’t have wasted the video. Okay? So, make sure you give all the information that you’ve got because the tiniest little detail can be the difference between a good surveillance and a bad surveillance.

Electronic Statuses

Here, Bob gives a little insight to our Web Package system we offer.

Aside from this Web Package system our clients have access to 24/7, they also receive electronic statuses from us as soon as they are entered into our database. Each time our servers make an attempt on a paper, they provide this to our office staff, and we physically enter it in the system. These status updates generate automatic e-mails that go to our clients so they are aware of what’s happening with their papers. Once a job is closed out and a paper is served and a signed affidavit is scanned into our system, an automatic e-mail is generated and sent to the client as an alert. In this e-mail, along with the service details, a link is provided that gives the client access to a digital copy of their return of service.

Clients can also call us at any time during business hours, and we respond to their requests and inquiries right away. If an address we are attempting is unsuccessful and further instructions are needed, this is relayed to the client in the status e-mail that is generated. It’s our duty as professionals to make sure they are kept abreast on their services. At the end of the day, they are trusting us to perform a service for them, so we do everything in our power to get the paper served. ♦

 

Transcript:

What we’ve implemented to kind of circumvent all of the different problems that I’ve seen over my 20 years of doing this is we’ve started using an electronic service that is password-protected. You, as a paralegal, would get a username and a password for an electronic site that you can go to that you’re only gonna see your work and nobody else’s. And nobody can see anybody else’s work in the system.

You can check at any time of the day or night and look at the status of all your papers. You can go in there and say, “Well, I got a paper on John Doe. I gave it to them two days ago. Let me just check.” On the internet, on the website, put in your username and password. Here comes all your jobs. “Ooh, it says completed.” Open it up, “Oh, served last night, 10:30, individual.”

Then, there’s a block on the website that you can actually click on and get a return of service, right there on the spot. It’s not signed; can’t be signed. But it’s at least something you can put in your file until the process server actually comes in and signs the original.

This is a new system that’s been set up. It’s been going around town. We were fighting it in the beginning because we didn’t have a lot of faith in it. But all the bugs have been worked out of it now. And that’s why we’re using it now. So, if you use my company, that’s what you’ll get. You’ll get an electronic status.

Process Server vs. Sheriff

Both private process servers and sheriffs serve documents. However, there are notable differences between the two parties and what their services entail.

Review the infographic below.

NEW process server v sheriff.png

Service in a Courtroom


Service in a courtroom is usually only condoned in certain circumstances, and, of course, the rules of service of process vary by state.

In this opinion piece shared by Mark Shapiro, we see that service while court is in session is frowned upon. And this is understandable for common sense reasons, such as disruption. However, Mark also mentions that people can usually be served as they are walking in and out of court.

At Professional Process Servers & Investigators, Inc., we have had to serve individuals at the courthouse a number of times because this was one of the only, if not the only, ways service would have been successful. If someone is in deep water and knows documents are going to be on the way at some point, he or she may try and avoid service, although, all this does is prolong the overall process; it doesn’t grant the person immunity from facing consequences just because service was not completed.

However, if an attorney knows the defendant is going to be at a specific courthouse at a specific time, he or she may request that we send out a process server to catch the person entering or leaving the courtroom. A description is ideally provided so the server knows who to look for. This approach serves as a surefire way to obtain service because when someone has a court date, that person will usually show up to avoid future consequences. Therefore, although Bob tells us service in a courtroom is not allowed, in some instances, as process servers, we are able to bend the rules. ♦

 

Transcript:

…serving in a courtroom…

You can’t serve in a courtroom unless the judge gives you permission to do so. I had an instance where that happened. I don’t know if all you remember the case where the gentleman was allegedly, well, I guess he was convicted, so it wasn’t allegedly anymore, killed a bunch of boaters out on the intercoastal because he was drunk, speeding in his powerboat. Okay?

We had, our company had the pleasure of serving this man for the families of the deceased. And, he was being held in a, hidden, in a Sunrise rehab center, where you can’t serve anybody in a rehab center. They were hiding there. So, I went to the judge. I knew he was gonna have a hearing. Went to the judge, spoke with him personally, told him what I had, told him what was going on, he said, “You, be in my chambers tomorrow morning at 9 a.m.” I was there. They brought the individual in for the hearing, and the judge allowed me to serve him right there in front of him, because of the circumstances.

So, that’s another case. You cannot serve inside the courtroom.

Service on Military Bases

As we shared in a previous post, service of process cannot take place on federal property.

Service on military bases can be tricky. Individuals cannot be served straightforwardly on military bases. Unless service is authorized, there is no guarantee it will be successful. However, sometimes, members of the military must be served, just as anyone else.

According to the Code of Federal Regulations for the Army (32 C.F.R. § 516.10):

“DA officials will not prevent or evade the service of process in legal actions brought against the United States or against themselves in their official capacities. If acceptance of service of process would interfere with the performance of military duties, Army officials may designate a representative to accept service. DA personnel sued in their individual capacity should seek legal counsel concerning voluntary acceptance of process.”

As Bob mentions in this video, the provost on the base is usually the point of contact and determines whether service will be authorized.

For more information regarding service of process on military bases, visit How to Serve Legal Documents to Members of the U.S. Military. ♦

 

Transcript:

Military bases, because you have a lot of foreclosures going on now, of course you can’t serve anybody in the military anyway for a foreclosure, but if you have service of process on somebody on a military base, you cannot serve them on the base.

Normally, what happens is you have to go and ask to see the provost. They will escort you in to see the provost. You will tell him, “I have a summons I need to serve on Sergeant Smith. It’s a divorce action.” Okay. The provost then has the option. He can have Sergeant Smith meet you outside the front gate or he can ask Sergeant Smith to come into his office and be a witness to the service and sign off on it. That’s the only way you can serve on a military base, if the provost is present and authorizes you.