When you think of a private investigator your mind automatically goes to long stake outs, sunglasses and sneaking around.
But in reality, is the job as glamorous as TV shows make it out to be?
Stephen*, an investigator from UK Private Investigators who has covered many cases in Liverpool, has lifted the lid on the sordid affairs and nefarious plots that happen behind closed doors.
Stephen started his career in the insurance industry before volunteering for a few investigation agencies for three years.
He moved into the investigative business full-time in 1997.
He told The ECHO : “Investigative work always had a draw for me and I have always had an inquisitive mind. I was a big James Bond fan too as a child.
“The best aspects of the work are helping people with problems that they cannot resolve themselves and catching people in their lies and deceit.
“So many people seem to think they can cheat and lie their way through life, hurting people and generally getting away with it – but they seem to forget that there are people like us out there, waiting to catch them out.”
Over the years he has covered many cases in Liverpool including catching cheating partners, lying employees and internal theft from businesses.
Speaking of his cases in Liverpool, Stephen said: “We caught a company director who was trying to sell lease cars under the pretence that they had been stolen.
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“We have even caught a few local celebrities misbehaving…..we can’t mention names, obviously!”
The majority of cases Stephen covers are person tracing enquiries and infidelity cases, but the business offers a multitude of investigative solutions to clients, so no two days are ever the same.
Out of all the cases Stephen has worked on over his 24 years in the job, there’s one that will always stick with him.
He said: “We had a client who was convinced that her husband was having an affair.
“He was and we caught him in the act, so to speak.
“He had booked a number of hotel rooms, under different names in order to hide the fact that he was ‘up to no good’.
“In the end, he took his ‘lover’ to a public car park, where we caught them having sex in the back seat.
“All a bit sordid really when you consider he was a a very wealthy man.”
Despite the juicy cheating story, Stephen said the job was not as glamorous at TV shows make it out to be.
He told The ECHO : “It can be said that the TV shows generally over glamourise the business.
“They give the impression it is all stake outs, undercover cases, macs and sunglasses.
“In all honesty, much of the work is trawling through records or knocking on doors (yes, some of us still do that).
“We do also, take many undercover cases and on occasion, the work can be very exciting – even after 24 years. It’s not James Bond though!”
One question Stephen is asked on a weekly basis is how you go about becoming a private investigator – to which there’s no definitive answer.
He told The ECHO: “Some people come out of a related industry or career such as the military and enter the private surveillance market, others leave the police and go straight into the private sector.
“As a general member of the public, without any industry related experience, it is VERY difficult to get into the investigative business.
“There are courses available but in all honesty, most seem to be money makers for the source provider and offer little or no support post study.”
When asked about advice he would give to people thinking about becoming a private investigator, Stephen stressed it’s not a job for everyone.
He said: “Practice not sleeping much. Be prepared to grow a very thick skin, to work VERY hard and learn to not let the work affect your personal life – not everyone is bad.”
*Name changed on request