The private investigation genre in movies and books is one people are often fascinated by. This brings about the question of; who pioneered it? Private investigation has been practiced since the time of Moses (although unofficially) when God told him to send a group of men to spy on the Promised Land. It remained an unofficial practice until few decades ago when people began to understand the importance of private investigation and went on to make the practice official. Several even pioneered P.I agencies of their own and enlisted agents. These pioneers include:
1. Eugene François Vidocq
The first official P.I organization “Le Bureau des Renseignements Universels pour le commerce et l’Industrie” was founded in the year 1833 by Eugene Francois Vidocq. Vidocq was a Frenchman, a privateer and a soldier. At the time the private investigation agency was opened, he had a criminal history and employed ex-convicts as his staff. Law enforcement agencies tried to shut down the agency for years and eventually the French Court of Appeals put an end to it when he faced trial.
Eugene Vidocq is credited to have introduced criminology, ballistics, and record-keeping to the criminal investigation practice. He also created indelible ink, plaster casts, and bond paper through his printing company.
2. Allen Pinkerton
In 1850, Allen Pinkerton opened another private investigation agency in the U.S called “Pinkerton National Detective Agency”. His detective agency gathered popularity in 1861 when it stopped a plot to kill the United States president Abraham Lincoln.
Allen Pinkerton’s agents carried out services ranging from crime detection, protection, and undercover investigations. It was said that Pinkerton, at some point, had more agents working for him than the US Army. Pinkerton agents also tracked down popular western outlaws such as the Reno brothers, the Wild Bunch and Jesse James.
3. Kate Warne
Kate Warne was hired by Allan Pinkerton in the year 1856 and was the first female private investigator in the United States. During the Baltimore plot, Warne discovered the suspicious activities Baltimore secessionists were involved in. She was undercover as a flirty Southern lady and was able to uncover details of the assassination plot on the President. She also served with Pinkerton as an intelligence agent during the US civil war.
Warne could blend into Southern gatherings easily and could get information male investigators could not. Most believed she was wife to Pinkerton hence she used the rumor to her advantage when undercover. For undercover investigations, Warne used the aliases: Kay Warne, Kitty Warne and Kay Warren amongst others.
4. Charles Fredrick Field
In 1852, Charles Fredrick Field started a private investigation office in the United Kingdom. He became friends with Charles Dickens who wrote some articles about his work. In 1862, an employee of his, Ignatius Pollaky, left his agency to start up his own P.I agency. Pollaky became more popular than Field and was mentioned in a variety of books.
Today, private investigations are invaluable in society. Their services range from major crime investigations to locating missing persons. With the aid of advanced technology, private investigations are better equipped to serve both the public and their countries.
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