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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Williams

What happens when private investigators ask questions: " who, where, and when? "

Updated: Nov 2, 2022

Swiss Detective Agency, Private Investigatior Switzerland, Swiss Security Solutions, Private Detective Agency

During the investigation, when private investigators try to establish "WHO" is responsible for an incident or crime, the emphasis is on establishing the identity of that person. When the most important question for the investigation is "Were", the emphasis is on determining the crime scene.

There is a clear distinction between the question of who, who focuses on the person,

in relation to where, where the emphasis is on the location. There may be more important questions for the investigation, than where the perpetrator is, where the evidence is, or where the potential loot is hidden, the question "WHEN" is also important, which puts emphasis on the time of the commission of a crime. It is also important for the investigator to clearly define what are the sources of information that can help him during the investigation.

During the investigation, investigators will often have to work with rich sources of data from non-governmental sources, concerning individuals and legal entities, personal property, and real estate. Some of the personal data are not directly available, while for others it is necessary to obtain appropriate documentation after the initiation of criminal proceedings. Banks and credit institutions are also important sources of information. Invoices provide insight into financial conditions, dates, and types of payments, as well as amounts. There is also information about the money that is withdrawn, as well as the number of checks written within a certain period. Banks have records of all major transactions and valuables stored in safes. Likewise, credit information to the investigator may serve as a source of information on the suspect's employment, his primary source of income, assets, and the amounts for which the said person is in charge. Many businesses also have their own credit agencies. These institutions may offer information about their clients, such as marital status, spouse's name, number of dependents, past and present residential addresses, and credit rating. If a real estate crime is suspected, the real address for the investigator is real estate agencies that can offer him information on the price of the property rented or sold, the number of transactions, mortgages, and ownership relationships.

Insurance companies may offer the investigator information on the last address used, the date of purchase or sale of the property, and the amount of the accompanying transaction. Telecommunications companies can also provide assistance in the form of subscriptions and the number of monthly bills for mobile and fixed telephony. The same applies to companies that send bills to the said person for cable television, electricity, gas, and water, from which, in addition to the address of the user, it is possible to obtain information on the use of these services in the past. In certain circumstances, it is useful to get in touch with companies that offer transport services, especially in cases where theft and concealment of stolen items are suspected. The same can be applied in the case of taxi associations that can offer information on the destination of passengers and potentially transported items. Rent-a-car agencies are also important because they provide insight into the information from the suspect's driver's license, the address of the person who rents the vehicle, information about the persons authorized to use the vehicle, and the mileage. There are often different phone numbers, addresses, vehicle descriptions, credit card information used when making payments, and the like.

Among the destinations of interest to the investigator conducting a particular case are health institutions, such as hospitals and pharmacies. Pharmacies can provide the investigator with insight into prescriptions on the basis of which information can be found about the doctor the suspect visited, what he was suffering from and what type of medication he used, as well as the address of the insurance beneficiary. Similarly, hospitals have patient health records, with information on illnesses and accompanying treatments, as well as health insurance. Like their health counterparts, educational institutions can be a source of important information for the investigator, starting from the date and place of birth, to the name and occupation of his parents, workplace, and the like. Higher education institutions such as universities and colleges may also offer the investigator information on the suspect's extracurricular activities, academic achievements, interests, and financial status. The media can also be useful by offering information about their subscribers and the subjects that are advertised in them, as well as insight into the archive of articles in which the suspect potentially appeared.

Government services at each level have a large amount of information that a private investigator can use. Although for most of them there are limitations in terms of safety regulations, certain data can be obtained relatively easily. Among the institutions that may be of benefit to the investigator is, for example, the tax administration, which owns the names and addresses of taxpayers in relation to property taxes. There is also information in the form of a description of the legal status of the property, the amount of taxes paid on it, as well as the timeliness of their payment. Municipal construction services have information on the location of the facilities owned by the suspects, as well as accompanying plans and documentation for their construction. Local registry offices also offer insight into wills and registers of marriages, births and deaths, registers of liquidated business entities, etc.

Other public institutions that offer insight into useful data are social assistance services, which may have information on the suspect's working life, his social needs, health status, and potential problems with the law. The same applies to election commissions, from which it is possible to obtain information on the origin of suspects, e.g. whether he was born in a foreign country or some special psychophysical need prevents him from participating in the voting process. All these sources of information are even more easily accessible today because they often offer their data in electronic form. This allows a parallel search of information on multiple official sources. Nevertheless, investigators are advised to contact these institutions directly in order to present the investigation process itself as a serious process led by a competent person.

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