• Bojic Jelena

Have you ever wondered what strategy private investigators apply?

In a business context, there is no reason to launch an investigation unless something has not already happened or is happening. Few organizations have the luxury of initiating investigations in the absence of some strong clues to serious crime. Before starting the investigation itself, it is necessary to analyze several important factors, from resource management, through obstruction of operational activities to the protection of the reputation of the parties involved.

It can be said that it is not advisable to launch an investigation without a proper analysis of whether an illegal act has been committed at all. The most important questions regarding the initiation of investigations are "who, when, why, how and what" and, at the very beginning, only the last question can be answered with a certain certainty. A more or less clear picture of the nature of the act committed is formed, for example, by the discovery of lost money or property. The task of the investigation is to make that picture as clear as possible, and in the process, the above five questions can be answered.

The question of "how" in the context of the investigation

Two primary sub-questions are related to answering the question “how” in the context of the investigation: how the crime was committed and how the said case can be resolved, while bringing the perpetrator to justice. Both questions concern the strategy, that is, the strategy that the criminal applied when committing the crime, and the strategy that the investigator applies in order to expose him. The latter to some extent often depends on the strategy according to which the act was committed, ie a person who, for example, commits embezzlement can hardly be brought to justice by an investigator if he does not know how he manipulates financial resources. This does not mean that knowing the manner in which the crime was committed automatically entails resolving the case. The crime and its disclosure are two different spheres and must be treated as such.

Case resolution strategy

In many cases, the strategy used to commit the act corresponds to that used to expose it. In this context, it is important to determine the perpetrator's modus operandi, ie the manner in which a certain criminal offense is repeated in the form of a form. In this way, in the case of the perpetrator, consistency in approach is established, which can also lead to the indication of a case resolution strategy. If, for example, an employee steals funds by falsifying refund documents and complaints, the investigator can expect the said employee to use the same methods of committing the crime as long as he or she has the impression that they are being paid. If a burglar prefers to break into apartments during the day, the investigator will not find him in night attacks on business premises. The criminal assesses the value of his methods solely on the basis of successfully performed ventures. After achieving several minor successes, he will be reluctant to change his operational approach, primarily due to a lack of imagination, inertia, and superstition. In this way, the modus operandi can be defined as a set of habits, techniques and specifics in the behavior of the perpetrator.

Choosing an adequate strategy

Although there is a factor of predictability and consistency regarding the manner in which the crime was committed, the same does not apply to the manner in which a particular case will be resolved. The strategy of committing an act largely determines the strategy of its disclosure, but certain limitations are present. There are usually a number of ways to bring a criminal to justice or to resolve a case, as well as countless situations in which something can help wrongly or in an unplanned way. When applying a case-specific strategy, the investigator must consider the following factors:

  • Can the strategy used, in case it proves unsuccessful, jeopardize the investigation?

  • What strategy puts the perpetrator in the most ungrateful position after he is arrested?

  • Which strategy is the least demanding in terms of human resource requirements, technology, the need for sophisticated equipment, etc.?

  • Which strategy takes the least time in the context of its implementation?

  • Which strategy is the most economically affordable?

  • The best strategy is, in fact, the one that requires the least time, human resources and expenses. The way the investigator answers these questions is a direct reflection of his or her overall capacity and investigative skills.

Identification of suspects: the question of "who"

After "how", one of the fundamental questions in the context of investigations concerns the determination of the identity of the person responsible for committing a certain criminal offense. It is clear that the question of “who” does not have to refer only to the culprit, but also to the identity of the person in whom the investigator trusts or can provide assistance during the investigation (technical support or some other form of assistance). The identity of the suspect is determined in several ways: through the elimination process, analysis of physical evidence and investigative examination. In most private sector cases, the number of potential suspects is relatively small. For example, in the case of cash thefts, the number of suspects cannot exceed the number of persons who have access to that cash register at all. The first steps are the elimination of persons who could not commit a specific act. The elimination process is carried out until the number of suspects is reduced to a few or, even better, to one suspect. However, in some situations the elimination process is not necessary and only an adequate analysis of the collected physical evidence is sufficient. However, their availability is sometimes not sufficient to identify the perpetrator, which is why the investigator uses the technique of interrogating all persons involved in the case, from victims to witnesses. In that case, he interrogates them in connection with all the details that come to light at that stage of the investigation process. These techniques are rarely applied alone, which means that a successful investigation will very often be a combination of examination, collection and analysis of physical evidence, monitoring, use of informants, but also the investigator's determination and luck. The whole process of investigation must, therefore, be approached as a science, although it is never exact.

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