Tuesday, October 23, 2001

Tricks of the Trade
By Private Investigator Michael T. O'Rouke

Question: I am a Paralegal with an Attorney who specializes in Family Law. There are frequent requests for information regarding a spouse's whereabouts. One particular client stated her husband "disappeared" every Wednesday night. If the husband discovered a Private Detective was tailing him (yes, it does happen) it could bring complications to an already sensitive situation. Do you have any suggestions?

Answer: Yes, there are methods utilizing technology previously available only to the CIA, or James Bond. If the vehicle is co-owned, you can install a portable GPS (Global Positioning System) to the undercarriage of the vehicle. Every three seconds, the GPS unit will "bounce" signals from the vehicle, to the street, to a satellite, and back, recording the latitude, and longitude of the vehicle. Utilizing common mapping software, the data is downloaded to a PC, and a map is created. In addition, the time lapse of each way point is recorded to identify if the vehicle was parked at any particular position for a time period greater than three seconds. And the best part is, this unit can be leased, thereby saving investigative costs. I have also used the GPS unit to track delivery trucks, and identify both theft, and sleeping delivery drivers.

Question: I think our client is dead. How can I verify this?

Answer: Utilize the Internet. If your client died, and Social Security Death Benefits were applied for, check www.ancestry.com. You can search by name, Social Security Number, and State. Social Security allows a death benefit ($350) for all who apply.

If your client was a Delaware Resident, or may have died in Delaware, contact the Division of Public Health. P.O. Box 637, Dover DE 19903, (302) 739-4721. Write a brief letter stating the Name, any identifiers you might have (address, DOB, nicknames, additional spellings, time frame of death) and fax, (302) 736-1862, or mail to the above address. Remember to include the $6.00 fee. The State has records dating back to 1956.

In addition, if the death was recent, check www.delawareonline.com for a copy of the News Journal's obit.

Question: I sure could use some extra cash. Any ideas?

Answer: A part-time job might help. Like most paralegals, you must have had some experience in transcribing dictation during your career. As tedious as transcription can be, it sure pays well. Use your favorite search engine (I like www.hotbot.com) to insert the word "transcribe", and pick a service. Tapes will be Fedexed to you, you complete the work, Fedex the work product back to the provider, and wait for payment.

How about found money? Try www.state.de.us/revenue. Any unclaimed monies, or property, are held here. You can search the site by name. Or contact the State of Delaware, Unclaimed Property Division, P.O. Box 8931, Wilmington DE 19899-8931, (302) 577-8205. The staff is extremely helpful, give it a try!

Det. Michael T. O'Rourke is a Member of the National Association of Investigative Specialists, The National Association of Professional Process Servers, and Sustaining member of the Delaware Paralegal Association.

A Court Certified Special Process Server, and a Licensed Private Investigator, Michael specializes in Insurance Defense. He invites your questions to:

Loss Solutions, Inc.
824 N. Market Street, Suite 425,
P.O. Box 368,
Wilmington DE 19899-0368.
(302) 427-3600.

Or you may e-mail him at DEIrish5@aol.com.

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