Private Investigation: A Brief History

May 6, 2023


Private investigators or PIs are professionals outside of law enforcement hired by individuals or corporations to conduct investigations for them. Their jobs may require surveillance, documentation, or research to gather necessary evidence, whether for civil or criminal matters.

While looking for a private investigator in Myrtle Beach, learning more about the profession is a good idea. Here is a brief history of private investigation:

Early Days of Private Investigation
The profession came about due to the need for an investigation that traditional and official law enforcement are reluctant or unable to conduct. Some may argue that the profession’s history can be traced back to the ancient world when people needed spies to investigate enemies.

One of the earliest instances of this can be found in the Book of Numbers. God instructed Moses to send some of his men to spy on the land of Canaan. These men were said to be the leaders of the ancestral tribes of the Hebrews during their exodus to the Promised Land.

Some historical records also claim that private investigators were also around during the time of the ancient Sumerians. These investigators were hired to help solve people’s problems in exchange for goods and services.

Modern Private Investigation
PIs, as we know them today, only came about during the 18th and 19th centuries. In 1749, English novelist and magistrate Henry Fielding officially organized the Bow Street Runners. They’re often considered to be the precursor to the Metropolitan Police.

The Bow Street Runners was organized to replace privately paid individuals known as “thief-takers” who used to maintain the law without any connection to the state. The Runners were successful in solving and preventing crimes until they were dissolved in 1839.

In 1833, a French soldier, privateer, and criminal named of Eugene Francois Vidocq founded the world’s first private detective agency. His group was Le Bureau des Renseignements, also known as The Office of Intelligence. It worked as a PI agency and a private police force at the same time.

What’s different with the Office of Intelligence is that Vidocq hired and trained ex-criminals and other individuals with shady backgrounds. He reasoned that these ex-convicts had the necessary toughness and craftiness needed for the job. Because of this, his organization wasn’t as trusted by many law enforcement agencies, and many tried to have his group shut down on numerous occasions.

Even though that was the case, that didn’t stop Vidocq from doing his job. The Office of Intelligence was so effective at its work that it significantly reduced the crime rate in Paris. Vidocq also made significant contributions to criminology, and some of his methods are still used by the French police and modern private investigators.

The Rise of the Pinkertons
Not long after Vidocq founded his organization, the Pinkerton National Detective Agency was established in America in 1850. Its founder, Allan Pinkerton, was a former Cook County deputy sheriff in Illinois. It quickly became one of the world’s largest private security companies. In its inception, the Pinkertons specialized in catching railway thieves and apprehending robbers.

One of the most famous cases solved by the Pinkerton National Detective Agency was the Baltimore Plot. In 1861, then-President-elect Abraham Lincoln was almost assassinated by the Knights of the Golden Circle. The KGC was a secret society that planned to kill Lincoln on his way to his inauguration. The Pinkertons were able to infiltrate their secret meetings and prevent their plot before it even happened.

Modern Private Investigation
Today, private investigators are more than just for finding people and tracking down information. Since legal issues and other cases have become more complex, private investigation has become more specialized. New types of PIs have been developed to help solve specific cases.

One notable example would be cyber investigators. In today’s digital age, the internet and the rise of more powerful personal computers have opened the door to cybercrimes. These cyber PIs are trained to help solve identity theft cases and track down sources of bullying online.

No matter what you need a private investigator in Myrtle Beach for, you can be sure they’ll get the job done. You’ll have the information that you require and help build your case.

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Carlos Diaz
I believe in making the impossible possible because there’s no fun in giving up. Travel, design, fashion and current trends in the field of industrial construction are topics that I enjoy writing about.

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