It is amazing how Bollywood continues to churn out ‘private detective’ movies that are as childish as they are badly researched, written and directed! The latest case being ‘Bobby Jasoos‘ – a film that released today and one that even Vidya Balan may not be able to save! As a real life private investigator in action for the last 20 years, let me dispel some myths here which I think Bollywood’s otherwise competent writers and directors must relegate to the dustbins of history.
1. Myth No. 1 – Some People Are Born Detectives
Bollywood makes us believe that some people are born ‘detectives’ and that they are born with the natural talents required to excel in this field. Lol. Nothing could be further from the truth! Private Investigation is a career like any other career out there and to gain entry into this profession, one has to undergo rigorous training and then spend years on the field honing one’s craft. Like with all other professions, one’s professional skills and acumen gets better with age and wisdom! Private investigation skills are not something that is present in the DNA of one person and absent from the DNA of another. These are skills that can be learnt and then applied on the job.
2. Myth No.2 – Anyone can become a Private Detective
Wrong again. Though it is largely true that interest in entering this field is a pre-requisite, one has to remember that only interest and an amateur knowledge of the workings of the private investigation business does not qualify one to be a Private Eye. The vast majority of private investigators come from law-enforcement Government agencies as well as from the military services. Many also enter the field after receiving degrees in criminal justice, forensic science and related fields. And yes, we do get a fair share of women of all age groups calling (atleast once a month) and wanting to work with us as a private detective because they think they have a natural flair for probing, snooping and generally minding other people’s business. We have to politely turn these ‘Bobby Jasooses’ away because we prefer qualifications and experience over ‘I-was-born-to-be-a-detective’ types!
3. Private Detectives Are Masters of Disguise
Wrong again. In the film ‘Bobby Jasoos‘ Vidya Balan is seen dressed as a Maulvi in the opening scene – another huge cliche. There is this romantic myth about private detectives always investigating cases disguised in outlandish costumes – especially wearing hats and long trench coats and slapping on a handle bar moustache! Oh come on! In my 20 years in this profession, never once had I felt the need to disguise my identity to further the investigation on a case. Let us understand why a private investigator must wear disguise. Common sense dictates that one must disguise one’s appearance to look like another only when there is the scenario that one might get recognized. When the subject who we are following does not even know our real identity, where is the question of being recognized? It is not as if my face is the most recognized face on the planet that I must disguise myself so that the person who I am following will immediately spot me as a private investigator! In fact most of the men in my team can pass off as the average common man on the street – people who are so ordinary in their appearance and attire that you wouldn’t even give them a second look if they passed you by or if one of them were standing nonchalantly on the road. We rarely send women (except on specific cases) on spying assignments because women generally stand out in outdoor places especially in a country like India and can be easily spotted. Only an insane Bollywood scriptwriter can think of disguising a woman as a man and sending her on a dangerous investigation assignment! Sending someone as attractive as Vidya Balan on a snooping mission is doomed to fail because rather than her spying on another, it will be the reverse – every man around would be looking or ogling at her!!
4. We Have Mysterious Clients Who Give Us Mysterious Cases
Bullshit! As a matter of fact, we do get many mysterious calls from people who want to recruit us for cock-and-bull cases! We can smell these types from far away and we like to keep them far away! Anytime a client refuses to identify himself and meet us in person, there is no question of accepting the case. Moreover, any matter that requires us to cross the boundaries of the law, is again refused by us. We play by the rule books of the law (more or less!). The bulk of our revenue comes from corporate clients and business people. These are people, brands and companies that you and every Indian is familiar with – top banks, multinationals, MNC’s, SME’s, high net worth individuals, high profile lawyers etc. Most of our clients are well known and respectable people and businesses who hire us for regular bread-and-butter services like electronic de-bugging of offices, background verification of employees and partners, due diligence before a business deal, assistance with a legal matter, investigating company fraud, IT risk consulting, investigating a cheating spouse etc. Remove the word ‘mystery’ from your vocabulary in association with private investigators. That’s only to be found in Agatha Christie Novels and Bollywood films!
5. We Dont Wear Canvas Shoes & Chase Thugs
We don’t rough up suspects for information and we definitely don’t chase suspects down the streets! Some immature PI’s do bring street smarts into the job. But mature private investigators do not equate street smarts with bending the rules! Street Smarts is knowing where to find information, knowing who guards the information, knowing what to ask for and knowing how to ask. Basically we don’t cross the line into law enforcement territory. We would rather leave that to the able Mumbai Police. As private investigators, our job is determine the truth and collect evidence that can be handed over to the client and to the Police so that it may help them in bringing a case to it’s conclusion. When matters are about to take a dangerous turn, we back off. We live by the maxims – ‘Live to tell the tale’, and ”Tomorrow is Another Day’. Acting tough with suspects and subjects can badly jeopardize a case and can ruin the reputation of our clients and push them into a deeper mess than they are already in. Remember, good private detectives with their years of experience have developed many influential contacts and have ample grey matter to rely on when it comes to cracking a case and – brains win over brawn any day in our world!
Amit Sen is the founding partner of Alliance One – who are among the best detective agencies in Mumbai specializing in providing thorough pre marital investigation services among other private and corporate investigation services. Amit is also a trained pilot and an aviator and likes to remain grounded on the days when he is not flying high.
In Search of a Liquor Permit
So we set off on more of our investigative haunts. Mumbai and indeed India is a country that is steeped in archaic laws. One of them is the Bombay Prohibition Act of 1949 which states that a licence or a liquor permit is required in order to possess, transport or purchase alcohol in Mumbai. A license to drink?! How cool or uncool is that? Sounds cool to us. Flash your license to drink when caught drinking in any of Mumbai’s numerous bars and pubs during one of those police raids and watch others cringe at their procrastination in getting one while being taken away to the nearest police station!
There are two types of liquor permits – the temporary one valid for a day or a year and the lifetime ones that are valid till you breathe your last (we are hoping not from alcohol overuse!). There are also two options currently available for those who want to get one. Your local wine shop and the nearest excise duty office. Being located in the bustling Andheri suburb of Mumbai, we decided to pay a visit to the nearest wine shops and excise duty offices and compare the ease with which one can get a liquor permit vis-a-vis the time and money saved.
The Wine Shops
Juben Wines and Twinkle Wines
Temporary Liquor Permits
We visited Juben Wines in Juhu. The manager there told us that the daily permits which cost Rs. 5 / day can be got from the shop on the spot. If you are organising a big party or an event and are mindful of a police raid, tell your local wine shop guys about it a week in advance, pay them the required amount in lieu of the number of people expected at your party and they will get the permits organised. This is a great idea since only a few people at a big party may be in possession of a liquor permit and it pays for the organiser and host of the party to be proactive about such matters.
Lifetime Liquor Permits
This is what every drinker in Mumbai above the age of 25 must ideally go for. A thousand rupees investment will save you many hours of wretchedness and many times more money in the form of bribes. The wine shops charge between Rs. 1200 and Rs. 1500 for the permit and will keep it ready for you at the shop and will call you once your permit is ready – most likely within a week. The wine shops will not give you yearly liquor permits though.
The Excise Duty Office
We then paid a visit to the nearest Excise Duty office which in our case was situated near Bhavans College in Andheri West. Here’s the cool thing. The people handling are very quick and earnest in their dealings and there was absolutely no problem of waiting nor any question of any bribes to be paid. The person in charge of issuing liquor permits told us that you bring the required documents and pay Rs. 1,000/- and take your lifetime liquor permit on the spot or pay Rs. 100 for your annual liquor permit! No chik chik no khit pit!
The Documents Required
The personal documents required are obviously the same whether you get your liquor permit done from your local wine shop or the excise duty office. The local wine shops will simply aggregate all the requests they have collected in a week and send someone to the excise duty office and then chare you a small commission which in this case is quite minimal and is entirely justified to compensate for their time and efforts. But if parting with 500 bucks really hurts you, then we see no reason why you should not pay a visit directly to the excise duty office. The officers there are cordial, warm and welcoming and may even treat you to some special extra-sweet sarkari tea!
1. 2 stamp sized photos
2. Rs. 5 Court fee stamp (available outside any court)
3. Age & Address Proof Issued by the Government – Pan Card, Aadhar, Driving License, Passport
4. Occupational Proof – Visiting Cards etc.
Now this is interesting. If you want to do it by yourself you will have to make two trips to the excise duty office – once to pick up the form and the second time to submit the form along with the attached documents unless of course you visit the first time with all the documents in hand which is of course the right strategy in order to save time. But wouldn’t it be great if you could also fill up the form in the comfort of your home and office intead of sitting in the somewhat depressing environs of a sarkari office. Well we looked around but couldn’t find a form to download. So we scanned the form given to us and have enabled downloads right here. It is entirely acceptable to take a black and white print or photocopy of the form below and submit it along with your documents.
Out of all the requirements above, the Rs. 5 court stamp seems us to be the most cumbersome to source! A trip to a court seems to be highly unwarranted for in our busy lifestyles. And it seems to us that the Rs. 500 extra paid to the local Wine Shop is the best option for now. What would be even better is someone can pick up the documents from your home and office and deliver the same to you and charge a fee for the same. Until some enterprising young fellow decides to become a liquor permit agent (I hear there are already a few) and until the government enables easy downloads, payments and application over the web, we suggest that you take the extra effort and get your liquor permit made.
Atin Dasgupta is a writer, musician, filmmaker, entrepreneur and co-founder of Alliance One – a private intelligence and knowledge gathering organisation based in Mumbai, India. He likes to create original art, do unusual things and mash outdated old ideas together to create new concepts that can live and breathe in the modern world. Using young private detective interns from the firm to cover interesting human angle stories is his latest passion!
Private Investigators serve a useful need to society and are successful career professionals with enviable pay and an exciting profession. There are all kinds of investigation cases that a private investigator receives and most of that will be detailed here in this article. But it is important to remember that at times he may be approached for a case that he is not qualified to handle. Rather than making false promises to resolve the case a good private investigator will deny taking it up. A good private investigator knows when to turn down a case and when to direct a client to a fellow investigator. Most private investigators specialize in a particular aspect of investigation which makes them an expert in their domain.
The duties of private investigators may vary from case to case. For instance if an investigator is working on a case related to fraudulent workers compensation claim, he may be required to conduct extensive observation of the subjects. Now, if he figures out that the injuries mentioned in a compensation claim are false then he will have to collate evidences to prove the same.
Private Investigators Perform A Variety of Roles
Private detectives conduct different kinds of investigations such as background checks, pre-employment verification, premarital screening, civil liability, insurance fraud, insurance claims, child custody, celebrity, corporate and executive protection. Infidelity in marriages is common these days and private investigators receive several such cases involving confirming the suspicions of a spouse with evidence gathered during surveillance and investigation. Private detectives in Mumbai and other cities in India often earn a substantial part of their income from conducting pre marital background checks because most weddings there are finalized and arranged through matrimonial websites and the couple really do not know anything about each other or their respective families.
A legal investigator needs to have an in-depth knowledge about both civil as well as criminal cases. Thorough knowledge about the legal terms is essential for success in the field of legal investigations. A private investigator desirous of enhancing his reputation and business would do well to join a private investigator association. A lot of knowledge sharing is done during meeting held by such associations and can also help him by increasing his circle of professionals with whom alliances can be formed in the future in cases where there is a resource crunch.
Surveillance is a Private Eye’s Number 1 Skill
Private investigators help lawyers, businesses as well as the general public with their financial, legal and personal problems. They make use of different means to determine different facts. Various kinds of surveillance equipments are used to collect evidences. Phone calls and personal visits are also made. In certain cases, especially the ones involving background checks and missing people, these professionals are required to conduct interviews with the subjects requiring good diction and oratory skills.
Physical surveillance on cases can often continue for long periods of time during which an investigator may have to confine himself in a van or a car to keep a watchful eye on the suspect’s residence or office until he obtains enough evidence. Binoculars, still and video cameras and cell phones are usually used during surveillance. Computer database searches are also done to obtain important information about the suspects. These searches provide information related to a person’s earlier arrests, credit information, vehicle registrations, associates, neighbors and more. However it is essential to have appropriate knowledge about your country’s privacy laws before barging into an individual’s personal space.
Types of Private Investigators And Their Duties
The duties of private investigators may vary based on their area of specialization. For instance those who specialize in cases related to property theft or copyright violation may just scrutinize and file acts of piracy to provide assistance in barring such illicit activities. Those who specialize in asset searches and drafting financial profiles for civil proceedings are usually required to conduct interviews, surveillance and extensive research to prepare their reports.
Legal investigators are mostly employed by law firms or lawyers and are experts in handling court cases. Their duties include drafting criminal defenses, preparing legal documents, locating witnesses, conducting interviews, collating and reviewing evidences. They may even be required to take photographs, assemble evidences and reports for court proceedings.
Corporate investigators perform both internal and external investigations for corporations except investigative firms. While internal investigations include investigating the use of drug at workplace, authenticity of expense accounts and employee’s trustworthiness, the external investigations conducted avert criminal schemes occurring outside the corporation like theft of organization’s assets via false billing by the vendors.
Financial investigators are mainly involved in drafting confidential financial profiles of organizations and individuals. Certified Public Accountants usually opt for this profession and are required to work in association with investment bankers and accountants. Looking for assets for recovering damages awarded by court in cases related to theft is one of their duties.
Private investigators employed at banks, retail stores, casinos and hotels need to ensure loss control and protection of assets. They basically avert robberies by vendor representatives, shoplifters, courier/ deliverymen as well as employees. These investigators also inspect the stock areas, restrooms and dressing rooms from time to time and may submit loss prevention and security reports to the management. Those employed at hotels are assigned an additional task of guarding the guest’s belongings against theft and prohibiting the entry of unsolicited individuals. Armed detectives must possess a permit and fulfill necessary licensing requirement for using a gun. Also they are not equipped with any additional powers to arrest a person unless otherwise stated.
Other Types of Private Investigations
Private investigators are involved in various kinds of private investigations. Most of them usually fall under the following categories:
- Asset location: This type of investigation includes judgments, compilation, subrogation and liens.
- Background investigations: This includes employment checks, pre-marital checks and pre-trial investigations.
- Criminal defense: This includes investigations of cases related to theft, rape, murder, drugs, fraud, vice, vehicular homicide and criminal financial investigations.
- Domestic cases: This covers child custody and divorce cases.
- Environmental cases: Cases related to hazardous chemicals.
- Insurance claims/ fraud worker’s compensation: Death and disability claims.
- Missing persons: This covers debt collections, locating criminals, investgating foul play, and searching for missing family members and friends.
- Personal injury: Accidental cases
- Process serving
Hope this article has enlightened you about the important role that a private detective plays in modern society and the career options for those who might consider joining the ranks of this artful and skillful set of professionals.
Amit Sen is the founding partner of Alliance One – who are among the best detective agencies in Mumbai specializing in providing thorough Infidelity Investigation Services among other private and corporate investigation services. Amit is also a trained pilot and an aviator and likes to remain grounded on the days when he is not flying high.
Budding private detectives and Private investigators wishing to enter the field of private investigation would do well to improve two aspects that will greatly improve their two crucial skills mentioned in my earlier post – the powers of observation and the powers of concentration. In this article I will elucidate on how to best improve these two crucial powers and I do not think that only budding private detectives can gain from what I have to say but even others who have nothing to do with our field but can gain from improving their observation and concentration skills which will in fact help them in their day to day activities as well.
Recalling Objects Within a Picture
One of the best ways to improve your concentration is through the ‘Recall’ method – a game that is often played by adults and children for ‘time pass’. Put a DVD on and hold the remote in your hand. Pause the picture on an interesting scene and then look away and try and recall and write down as many detailed objects in the scene as you can possibly remember. People who have not yet honed their observation skills will be hard pressed to remember and note down exactly all the objects even after several attempts. But this is quite alright because if you practice this exercise diligently, you will vastly improve over time.
Improving your Short Term Memory
Human beings are blessed with two kinds of memories – short term and long term memory. Short term memory as the term suggests is indeed short term and these memories fade quickly from your brain. But like all skills, short term memory retention can be improved with time and practice. If you are on a surveillance mission, start taking notes and shoot pictures. This will instill the habit of observing your surroundings at all times. Over time you can effectively transfer short term memories to long term memories. Here are some more drills for improving short term memories for aspiring private detectives.
Memorize things. Lyrics of songs, poems, short stories, Religious scriptures. Besides improving your memory retention skills, it will also make you appear smart, intelligent and entertaining! Grouping items together also helps to remember correctly. For example, long phone numbers can be easily remembered if you can insert spaces between numbers. For example breaking down my number 981 958 0458 into three groups will make it easier for you to remember than just trying to remember one long string of numbers.
Keep Your Brain Active
It is a known fact that the brain is a muscle and like all other muscles atrophies or becomes weak with disuse. So keep learning new technical skills such as for example softwares such as Photoshop or video editing softwares such as Adobe’s Premiere Pro whenever you have the time. Learning to use new softwares makes you go through complicated sequences of actions repeatedly and makes you adept in mastering complicated sequences and creating a pattern. Besides added skills such as Photoshop or video editing skills can also come in handy in the future when you may need to deconstruct photographic and video graphic evidences of a case and you are not solely dependent on your DTP guy for the same!
Setting Information to Songs or Pictures
Take a popular song and put that information that you want to remember as lyrics for that particular song. As uncanny as it sounds, this is an excellent way to remember large pockets of information without putting them down to paper. Of course, you must be able to remember the tune correctly or else after a while, neither will you be able to remember the song nor the information! Linking the familiar with the unfamiliar also includes matching information with pictures.
Amit Sen, a commercial pilot by training, has over 15 years experience in the space of corporate investigations, handling Copyright & Trademark infringement cases, Pre – employment verification Industrial Espionage investigations, Asset & Net – Worth assessment assignments and vendor / supplier verification cases, among others. Co-founder of Alliance One Detectives – which is the best private detective agency in Mumbai. Apart from specializing in home security, Amit has also successfully completed assignments in a wide range of sectors, including the machine tools industry, pharmaceutical industry, hospitality sector, specialized equipment (Oil & natural gas sector, aviation industry etc.), telecom industry & the IT & ITes sectors. These cases have all involved both offline and online investigations.