Advice

Looking for an Estranged Family Member? Here’s How a P.I. Does It

Shahs of Sunset pal Destiney Rose recently hired a private investigator to track down her absent father — and we chatted with a P.I. to learn how the process works.

Destiney Rose has been trying to track down her absentee father on this season of Shahs of Sunsetbut without necessary information from her mother, the private investigator is struggling to find leads. If you're trying to track down a person who can’t be found on social media and you don’t even know key details (like what city they are residing in), it’s time to call for professional assistance.   

Personal Space spoke to Gary Marcelin, a research surveillance specialist from Miami-based Eyes on You Investigations, Inc., for the inside scoop about using a P.I. to find an estranged family member, and here are his words of advice:

Find a Good P.I.

When you are seeking help to locate a loved one, Marcelin advises finding the right private investigator or surveillance specialist through word of mouth from someone who used one and had a good experience. For example, ask for a referral from a trusted attorney, or even by searching on the Internet. Professional investigators have access to national databases that facilitate locating individuals even with limited information.  

Set up an Information Briefing

After contacting an investigator, the critical task is to fully brief them on your case and what your specific needs are in order to solve it. Each scenario is unique, so what worked for someone on TV may not be right for you. Marcelin explained that having the subject’s full name and birthday is very useful information. However, if the exact birthday is unknown, or if the subject changed their name, there are other methods to find them. Letting the P.I. know what city they may be in, any living family members they may still be in contact with, and/or providing the name of a school they attended can also produce useful leads. 

Consider Pros and Cons

Although successfully locating a loved one may result in a happy reunion, Marcelin always discusses with the client the pros and cons of reconnecting with the individual. Sometimes the person they are looking for is incarcerated for committing a heinous crime, or is associated with a bad crowd. They may not be the person you remembered or thought they were, and reuniting could open the door for serious conflict, such as stalking or begging for money. However, once the client has all the relevant information, it is not necessary to pursue connecting with the family member in the present or even in the future. Sometimes just knowing where they are and having some data will be sufficient closure for the client.  

Establish Contact

If the client is interested in reconnecting with that person, there are a number of ways that a P.I. can facilitate that reunion. If they are interested in reaching out directly, they are free to do so. However, sometimes it is best to be discrete and create a casual coincidence, so that person is unaware that you hired help to find them. In those cases, once Marcelin has located them, he sets up surveillance to establish their daily routine. Then the client can “bump” into them seemingly by chance in one of their regular spots. That way, it can feel like a more organic reunion. 

Side Note: Can I Do This Myself?

For those that want to search for someone themselves, using social media can be a great tool. If the person has possibly changed his or her name, another way is to look for someone you know who was close to that person, such as a former spouse, sibling or friend of that individual. If all else fails, calling a professional can be a good investment by making the process easier and less stressful.

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