Before any surveillance I conduct what is called a prelim. A prelim in a preliminary investigation before a surveillance is conducted. Surveillance investigators perform a preliminary investigation to learn more about the person they are going to conduct a surveillance on, make sure that the surveillance begins at where person is actually living, learn anything that will be helpful when conducting surveillance, and to learn anything that can be helpful to the client.
Typically with any assignment I usually start a preliminary investigation with a comprehensive report. The comprehensive reports which provide credit header information, any known associates information, vehicle information (sometimes), criminal recording information, and phone information that are purchased through companies like IRB Search or TLO (there are others but I have not used them). These comprehensive reports also show the most recent reported addresses.
MOST RECENTLY REPORT ADDRESSES
The client usually provides an address they believe there subject is living at. And regardless of what the client thinks I run the comprehensive report
During a prelim one of the many things I check are property records if the client provided address is a home. Property records can be a great indicator as to whether the individual lives at the residence or not.
When it comes to reading these comprehensive reports I rarely follow the information blindly. I try to confirm the information through actual sources. When it comes to confirming the owner of a residence I always double check property records through the county assessor website. And as simple as that might sound, sometimes the information can be difficult to locate because the websites are not very user friendly. Many times I will try to enter the address I am looking for but for some reason it doesn’t recognize the address.
Furthermore sometimes the actual property locations are not easy to identify because a residence might not be marked. Sometimes I need help to figure out which residence is the one I need to conduct surveillance on.
So when I can’t identify these two things through online property record sources I turn to Zillow as a shortcut to the county website property records. More times than not I use this shortcut first.
Where to find the link to the property records
Type in Address of Interest
Scroll Down Until you Find the Link for County Records
Click on the Link and it Will Take you to the Property Records
Once you click on the county website link you will either be sent directly the property record or you will be sent to the county website. If you are directed straight to the county website you can enter the address you are looking for or enter in the property record which also can be located on the Zillow website under the property information. You will be looking for the parcel number.
Why is it Important to Search Property Records from the County Website?
Some investigators will use the information from the comprehensive report as gospel. But the information from these reports are not always 100 percent accurate or up to date. The results from the comprehensive reports, when it comes to property records should help guide you in the right direction for your research.
Tax Payer Details
The tax payer details help you to determine if the owner of the residence is actually living at the residence or possibly renting out the home to someone else. If the taxpayer details show the same address as the address you are looking up then there is a good chance that the person that owns the residence lives at the residence.
Photos of the Residence
Another reason I like to go to the county website is because sometimes there are photos of the residence which are recent. And recent photos sometimes have vehicles in the photo that might be related to the subject I am conducting surveillance on. I use Google maps to see this information as well and I think I have talked about this before in other articles.
Find out if Anyone else is Associated to the Person you are Looking For
When looking at property records for the owner of the residence (aside from the person you are looking for) you may find another name associated to the property ownership that may assist you in your investigation.
I hope this simple hack helps you with your investigations to make you life easier. I know it has made my life easier. Property records are something private investigators are always looking for.
Do you have a hack that makes things easier for you? Add it to the comments or email me about it. I would love to hear about it.