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Interesting Private Investigator Facts

  • August 19, 2010
  • by PInow Staff

Here are some interesting private investigator facts that you may not know.

The Founder of Modern Criminal Investigation
Do you know who founded the first modern detective agency? It's not Pinkerton. In 1833, Eugene Francois Vidocq founded the first known private detective agency in France: Le Bureau des Renseignements. A former-criminal-turned-policeman, Vidocq's agency was staffed by detectives who were all former criminals.

He is also considered by historians and law enforcement to be the father of modern criminal investigation. Vidocq is credited with introducing the science of ballistics to police work. He also was the first to make plaster casts of shoe impressions. An inventor, Vidocq held patents on indelible ink and unalterable bond paper. He was also considered a master of disguise and surveillance.

Vidocq was also the inspiration for many famous writers, including Victor Hugo, Edgar Allen Poe, and Charles Dickens.

The First Fictional Detective
Perhaps the most famous detective in fiction is Sherlock Holmes, created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. But he is not the first fictional detective. Edgar Allen Poe created the first detective in fiction: C. Auguste Dupin. Dupin was a private detective living in Paris. In fact, he is based on none other than Eugene Francois Vidocq. Dupin appears in three popular stories: The Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Purloined Letter, and The Mystery of Marie Roget.

Pinkerton's Logo
The Pinkerton National Detective Agency, founded by Allan Pinkerton in 1850, is perhaps America's most famous early detective agency. Pinkerton's agency became renowned after preventing an assassination attempt against President Abraham Lincoln. During the Civil War, it also organized America's first secret service.

But did you know that the Pinkerton Detective Agency's logo, consisting of a huge black and white eye above the slogan "We Never Sleep," inspired the term "private eye?"

The First Female Detective in the United States
Kate Warne is considered the first female detective in the United States. Hired by the Pinkerton Detective Agency, she was a key player in the foiled assassination attempt of President-Elect Abraham Lincoln in Baltimore in 1861. She disguised herself as a rich Southern lady in order to infiltrate secessionist social gatherings in Baltimore. While at these gatherings, she was able to discover details of the assassination plot.

During the Civil War, she worked in covert war intelligence-gathering. She was able to easily penetrate into Southern social gatherings as a woman.

Pinkerton named her as one of his five best detectives. He subsequently established the Female Detective Bureau, putting Kate in charge as "Supervisor of Women Agents." All of this is remarkable considering that women were not allowed to be part of a police force until 1891 nor be detectives until 1903.

Kate Warne died in 1868 of pneumonia with Pinkerton at her side. She is buried in the Pinkerton Family Plot in Illinois.

Statistics About the Job of Private Investigator

  • About 21% of all private investigators in the United States are self-employed

  • The employment of private investigators is expected to grow 22% between 2008-2018, one main factor being the proliferation of criminal activity on the Internet

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