We recently were sitting at a restaurant, having a conversation with some people, and an interesting question was brought up. “Do you think that being a private investigator is harder or easier than when you first got into this business over 30 years ago?”
That started me thinking. It started a very interesting conversation about the pros and cons of being a Private Investigator now versus 30 years ago. So I decided to interview my husband about it. Here are the results:
Me: You’ve been doing this for over 30 years now. Do you feel that it is easier now or back when you first began?
Adam: Well, in some respects, it is easier now, but in others, it is much harder.
Me: Give me some examples of how it has become easier now than when you first started.
Adam: Well, when I first started out, I was extremely limited in my marketing. It was before the internet, so the only advertising choices out there were newspaper ads, radio or tv commercials, or the good old yellow pages. All were limited to a specific area and rather expensive. Plus, they weren’t “permanent.” For example, a commercial is only 15-30 seconds long, and that’s it. The yellow pages are for a year, but you are limited to a town or a section of the city at the most. So you need to “buy” space in several places in order to be more marketable. You can’t limit yourself to one city in Connecticut, for example. It is putting all your proverbial eggs in one basket. You need to spread out, but it adds up in a hurry. Newspaper and magazine ads were only for one publication. A broader audience, but for a limited time.
Me: And what about now?
Adam: Now, with the internet, I can reach people all over the world with one website. I even ranked number 12 in the world on the “Top 100 Trending Private Investigator Businesses To Watch in 2021” list. I’ve had clients from many other countries, as well as all over the United States. Granted, I focus mostly on the New York City, Queens, Brooklyn, and Connecticut areas, but there are people from all over the world that need someone to be their eyes and ears when they cannot be here. That’s where I come in. For example, if someone is going to be traveling away from home for a week, and they were concerned that their spouse was cheating on them, they could not be in two places at once, obviously. I had a case recently where the husband was going to Puerto Rico for a business trip, and the wife was in Groton, Connecticut. He hired me to watch her to see if she did anything while he was gone. It enabled him to “check on her” discreetly and not have to have anyone else he knew do it – so it was kept private. Turns out he was right, and it was money well spent on his part.
Me: You handle cases all over Connecticut as well as the five boroughs in New York. That must keep you pretty busy.
Adam: Yes, it does. It is both good and bad. When I first started out, I was much more limited to where my cases were because of the marketing issue. Sure I had some cases through word of mouth from some big clients and lawyers, but a majority of my cases were from the areas that I marketed to. So that limited the cases. Now I have such a wide area that I have many more cases that are spread out. I could work a case in New London, Connecticut, in the morning and that evening be signing up a client in Jamaica, Queens. Then the next morning, I could be following someone else to Norwich. So my “area” has grown exponentially with the birth of the internet. But so has my “commute” to handle all these cases.
Me: What are some other things that have made it easier now than in the past?
Adam: Definitely smartphones. They are a huge asset to me when I am working on a case. I use an app to help me find the starting locations or an address that a client may think that the subject will be at, and keep it on so I know the places I am following them to. To be able to look up things during the case is huge also. I can access my databases in a few minutes without having to travel back to my office or house to do it. 30 years ago, I would have had to rely on paper maps, pay phones, and good old film cameras where you didn’t know if you got anything until you dropped them off to be developed. It would take days to give the results to my clients, whereas now I can text them right after I catch something. Amazing.
Me: Do you find that it is always an asset having a smartphone at your disposal?
Adam: It’s a double-edged sword. I also never actually have any “off time” because I am almost always accessible. The only time I’m not answering my business calls would be when I am actively on a case or asleep. I once responded to someone’s text questions with voice commands when I was in the shower!
Me: That’s pretty impressive.
Adam: Well, I always make the effort to communicate with my clients or my staff whenever possible. However, it does get pretty busy at times. But I think that clients appreciate talking to a person and not an automated attendant.
Me: It must be hard being accessible most of the time.
Adam: Some days and situations are better than others. But the internet has made it easier to conduct business. During the pandemic, I met virtually with clients and used various apps to have payments sent for cases. Sometimes, the entire case is done through computer payments and emailed contracts to the point where there are some clients I never even meet in person! That is both good and bad. Yes, it is very convenient, but it lacks that personal involvement as well. But it does enable me to be much more efficient with my time and my clients. Now neither of us has to take time from work to meet in my office to conduct business. Plus, the chance of them being seen by a nosey friend or relative are almost nonexistent.
Me: Do you feel that computers have made you more successful in your outcomes?
Adam: Absolutely. There is much more information at my fingertips with the dawn of the internet. I can collaborate with other PI’s from all over and compare experiences and approaches to help with a case. I had one case that dealt with someone in China. I called another Private Investigator who had connections in the area I needed and helped me with the case. I could have never done that 30 years ago. The only other investigators I knew were the ones in the phone book. Back then, no one ever “shared trade secrets,” but now there are groups of us that help each other out. We are from all different areas of the country, so not only do we have different ideas and leads on where to find particular information and perspectives to contribute to each other, but we don’t handle cases in the same areas, so there are no conflicts or direct competition. We just do it to learn and to help each other out.
Me: Sort of like an exclusive club?
Adam: Exactly. We can all relate to a lot of what we go through in this business. It’s nice to share that with someone who really understands it.
Me: Like me?
Adam: Of course. (laughs)
Me: So what would you say has made it harder now, if anything, than back when you started?
Adam: Well, people are not as trusting as they used to be. A lot of the time, when I am canvassing an area for a witness or trying to see if someone caught anything on their cameras, they are much less apt to cooperate. Most don’t want to get involved. Some won’t even answer the door. You would not believe the number of times I’ve knocked on the door of a neighbor who didn’t even know who was living next door to them (or at least says that they don’t). It used to be that everyone knew their neighbors. Now no one seems to know people that they’ve lived next to for years. It’s kind of sad. If you ask your parents, most will tell you that they would visit and hang out with their neighbors. But not anymore.
Me: What else has become more challenging than it used to be?
Adam: The travel between cases, as I said earlier, is tough. I have such a big area where I work that I need to drive a lot, especially during busy times. I don’t have enough staff to cover all the cases, so I have to go out and do them a lot of the time. I can be in Greenwich one minute and Coney Island the next. You never know where I will be from week to week.
Me: So overall, would you say it is harder or easier now than it was?
Adam: I think it’s a mix, to be honest, just like anything else. Overall though, I tend to think that with the technology that we have now, it is much easier to find what I need than it used to be. The databases that I have at my disposal, paired with the internet and social media, make it much easier to find things than it used to be.
Me: Especially when you have an OSINT researcher like me working with you.
Adam: Yes, Dear.
Investigreat, LLC is a recognized full service Private Investigation Agency that is fully licensed, insured and bonded, handling cases all over Connecticut as well as Queens NY, Brooklyn NY, Bronx NY, New York City, Staten Island and Long Island NY. Terri, along with her husband Adam, have been working cases for Legal Teams, Insurance Companies, Private Businesses, Municipalities, School Systems and general investigation services for the public since 1992.
Investigreat, LLC | Private Investigators serving Connecticut, Long Island City, Jamaica NY, Brooklyn NY and Queens NY | Office Numbers: 860-899-1710 or 718-412-1845 | Text: 718-309-1269