Top Tools For The Modern Day Private Investigator

Posted on Sep 26 2013 - 12:01am by Lucia Jordan


Where would the career of inspectors Clouseau and Gadget be now if it wasn’t for their trusty spyglass?

Whatever the crime, whoever the criminal, this handy piece of equipment – also known as the magnifying glass – was sufficient enough to gather all the evidence they needed to solve the crime (though not always in Clouseau’s case) and make sure the bad guy was put safely behind bars.

Then of course there was Columbo. He made do with a heavily thumbed note pad and pen, stuffed into his ever present rain coat – and of course a permanently lit cigar.

The great detectives and investigators of the silver screen may not have had much to fall back on in terms of technology, but it didn’t stop them getting the job done.

In the real world of course, things are a little different.

The 21st century private investigator uses a vast range of equipment to ensure they always have the advantage when it comes to finding their man (or woman).

Gone are the days of dusting for fingerprints and leaving industrial sized tape recorders placed under the bed. Technology has become the PI’s best friend and that’s the way it looks like staying.

Here are seven investigative aids that Columbo and friends could only dream of using.

The digital recorder

Though recorders have always been the favoured friend of the investigator, their shape and size has evolved somewhat over the years. No more a big, awkward unit; the mini digital recorder can be concealed in the tip of a pen with high-quality sound and sensitivity for listening and recording conversations.

The mobile phone

As the mobile phone has evolved it has become a more useful tool. No longer raising suspicion; someone using a phone to record sounds, take pictures or simply make calls simply blends in with anyone else on the street. The cell phone could easily be described as the ultimate piece of kit for any PI.

The mini camera

Taking pictures is probably the most important role of a Private Investigator. In days gone by this meant lugging around large cameras with even larger zoom lenses – not to mention very unsubtle flash bulbs. Advances in camera technology means that you can capture whatever and whoever you want without arousing any suspicion whatsoever – and the images are pretty good quality too.

The GPS Tracker

There was a time when tracking somebody’s car meant placing an object that resembled a Smash potato robot underneath their car and hoping they didn’t notice. Modern day GPS devices are no bigger than a postage stamp and can be hidden pretty much anywhere.

The internet

Obviously the web has changed the way we all live our lives, but for private investigators it’s is a virtually priceless advancement. Internet searches and social network sites mean that few of us are invisible to anyone who is keen to find out more about us.


As well as costing nothing, Skype offers a number of advantages to any PI. One of the most useful is the ability to record phone calls, which can then be turned into MP3 files.

A digital scanner

Sifting through thousands of pages of documents was always a time-consuming, not to mention tedious task. Thankfully, technology has saved the day (as well as a good few hours). Software packages that scan hundreds of pages and turn them into searchable digital files are now readily available on the open market.

Photo Credit: Flickr/olarte.ollie

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