All About Private Detective

A private detective is a professional hired by law firms, corporations, insurance companies, private individuals, or other entities in order to obtain intelligence information and reaffirm or refute the information. Traits of a good private detective are, among others, above-average intelligence, power of transformations, patience, combinatorial thinking, analytical thinking ability, and logical reasoning, as well as the possibility of looking at things from different angles.

The professional private investigator usually has experience working for the police or other security services and is also trained, in theory and practice, for conducting professional investigations. He is searching, gathering, reviewing, and analyzing information and evidence.

Private detective has a large number of associates that enable him access to places that are usually inaccessible to ordinary citizens.

When Was the First Detective Agency Founded?

The first detective agency was founded in 1833. It was founded by Eugen Francis Vidok and it is considered to be the first private detective. The first detective agency which provided detective services were called “Firm for universal information concerning Trade and Commerce”.

Police tried many times to close the detective agency and Eugen was even arrested after he solved the case regarding embezzlement of money. He was sentenced to five years in prison and a fine of 3,000 francs but was released soon afterward.

This private detective was the first one to introduce records writing and ballistics as important factors in investigations. Some of his detective methods are still used today in investigations by French police.


Who is the Most Famous Private Detective of All Time?

Certainly, the most famous private detective of all time is Alan Pinkerton with his Pinkerton detective agency. Alan Pinkerton Detective Agency was founded in 1850 in Chicago. As America expanded territorially, so did the transport and railway system. Railway companies hired the Pinkerton Detective Agency in order to protect transportation. Pinkerton Detective Agency has successfully solved a series of train robberies and has gained a respectable reputation throughout the country.

After the end of the Civil War Pinkerton Detective Agency continued to offer detective services by continuing to chase robbers of trains, including the famous Rino gang and Jesse James gang. Pinkerton Detective Agency was engaged to counter the movement of trade unions in America.

In 1872 the Spanish government hired the Pinkerton detective agency in order to help the government curb the revolution in the island of Cuba. Alan Pinkerton died in 1884 in Chicago. At the time of his death, he worked on creating a system that would centralize all the information for identifying criminals, the database, which is now owned by the FBI. After his death, the Detective Agency continued to provide detective services and became an important force in suppressing the movement of trade unions in the US and Canada, which is why the image of the agency changed over the years.

Nevertheless, Pinkerton has remained synonymous with the private detective decades later. Pinkerton Detective Agency operates today in Chicago and provides detective services. Since 2003 the company has operated as a subsidiary of Securitas AB.


What Services do Private Detectives Provide?

Detective services from more recent times involve intelligence work in the industrial sector regarding industrial espionage, public records search, anonymous threats, protection of the family, credibility assessment, and polygraph testing cases of juvenile delinquency or marital problems.

Detective services often involve insurance and fraud investigations, investigations associated with infidelity, background checks of potential employees, investigations into suspicious insurance claims, or finding missing persons or persons wanted by the law. A private detective is often hired by attorneys in order to obtain evidence that may have a significant impact on court judgments.

What Are the Main Activities of Private Detectives?

The main activity of a private detective is investigation. The investigation may include, among other things, combining legal records, family history, open source information gathering, computer investigation, database investigation, investigation of past related to candidates for the position, or information gathering of any kind.

Interrogation is a method to come up with the necessary information. People who can be interrogated are relatives of missing persons, witnesses of other crimes, or any person who can possibly possess any kind of primary or secondary knowledge that could be relevant to the case under investigation, in order to obtain valuable information.

Through interrogation, combined with his own investigation, a private detective is able to collect evidence in order to solve the case or present some evidence to the court. Surveillance is the secret monitoring of a person without his or her knowledge, information gathering, and reporting about that person’s activity to the client who has hired a private detective. A private detective is familiar with all the modern techniques of effective surveillance.


What is the Process of Hiring a Private Detective?

After the initial investigation is finished, an analysis of the facts is done, followed by an assessment done by a private detective, a definition and selection of relevant and irrelevant case elements is required, after which the private detective chooses the methodology with the best chances of putting an efficient closure for the case.

What makes investigation and analysis crucial, essential, and the most important part of a private detective job is the fact that there are no two cases alike or any known template or pattern on which to work.

Each case is a different story and in each new case a private investigator must start from the scraps in order to fully take into consideration all aspects of the case and to explore elements of information step by step until the whole “picture” is completed, all facts are established and verified and the answers to all questions are found.

Kantar Anita
Kantar Anita

I am Anita Kantar, a seasoned content editor at As the content editor, I ensure that each piece of content aligns seamlessly with the company's overarching goals. Outside of my dynamic role at work, I am finding joy and fulfillment in a variety of activities that enrich my life and broaden my horizons. I enjoy immersing myself in literature and spending quality time with my loved ones. Also, with a passion for lifestyle, travel, and culinary arts, I bring you a unique blend of creativity and expertise to my work.