New private investigators are always excited to get out and start doing the job. Part of the draw of being an investigator is the sense of fun and adventure. While the job can be exciting, each new assignment comes with inherent risks. A professional investigator can mitigate most of the risks by staying aware of their surroundings and sticking to the fundamentals of the job. But even the most seasoned professional will tell you that being a private investigator involves many potentially dangerous situations.
Is Being a Private Investigator Dangerous?
Some of the most common investigative assignments involve interviewing witnesses to a criminal offense, conducting surveillance on child custody or infidelity cases, and investigating various forms of insurance fraud. Most people don’t like the idea of an investigator snooping into their private lives, especially when they have something to hide. Investigative findings could negatively affect a subject’s personal finances or relationships.
It’s not uncommon for the subject of a surveillance to become physically aggressive toward an investigator when the surveillance is compromised. Not only the investigation subject, but also members of the subject’s neighborhood could cause problems for a private investigator whose surveillance is discovered. Suspicious neighbors could become confrontational, especially in sparsely populated rural communities where it’s very easy to spot an out-of-place vehicle.
Being confronted by a hostile subject is a dangerous proposition. Training and experience can greatly reduce the risk that a subject will detect a PI and cause a confrontation. Mobile surveillance is an exercise in extreme multi-tasking. You must deal with all the dangers of normal driving while following a subject and doing your best not to get spotted. Experienced PI’s will tell you that simple automobile traffic during mobile surveillance poses a greater risk to the average PI than being physically assaulted by a subject.
PI’s must make frequent stops, slow-downs, and accelerations to maintain distance with a mobile subject and to catch up when they get too far away. Defensive driving is essential, but often a private investigator can get tunnel vision on their subject and miss traffic hazards they would have otherwise noticed. Weather conditions can also pose a danger even to an experienced investigator with excellent mobile skills.
Other Dangers of Being a Private Investigator
Investigative assignments often involve dangerous immediate circumstances, but the job of a private investigator also involves long term risks as well. Long hours and irregular work patterns can interrupt normal sleep patterns. The work schedule can also interrupt normal family and relationship activities, which can have a negative long-term psychological effect on the investigator. Sitting for long periods of time and having to eat less than nutritious food while on the job can result in many negative health effects.
The job of a private investigator is much different than your normal 9-to-5. For most investigators, the dangers involved are a fair trade for all the benefits of being a private investigator.