Private Investigator Resources

I am rebuilding the private investigator store and it is taking a little bit longer than I expected.  This resource shows many of my recommendations that were in the P.I. Store as well as links to other private investigator resources.

This is a resource page that shows some of the resources I use on a daily basis. If you are new to the private investigation industry, interested in the industry or maybe your a veteran investigator that is looking for new ideas,  there is something for you on this page.

Disclosure: I am an affiliate for some of the links below and I will earn a commission if you make a purchase through those links (at no cost to you).  I recommend these products because I have used them or trust them,  They are not recommended because I earn a commission from them.  Don’t buy these products if you don’t think they can help you in some way.



Most of these books I either own or have read.  It is important for new and even veteran investigators to keep learning about the industry and craft of investigating.  Below are some book I would recommend to read or listen to on Audible (where available).


The Complete Idiots Guide to Private Investigating 

This is one of the first books I purchased I believe about 13 years ago. I have the first edition if I am not mistaken.  I enjoyed reading this and learned a significant amount.  It is my understanding that this book has been updated to reflect current information.

Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception

I really really enjoyed this book.  I listened to it on Audible but you can get the book as well.  This is a great introduction to spotting deception.  If you get it, make sure to let me know how you liked it.  Here is the link to the book.  Here is a link to Audible if you want to try it out for free for 30 days and get the book for free.

The Investigator’s Little Black Book 

This book is more of a resource for private investigators.  You are going to have questions as to where to find answers and this book has a ton of references to find answers.  I have this book and it has been a great resource for me over the years.

The Practical Guide to Process Serving

Another book I have. If you are interested in process serving I would read this book first.  

The Everything Private Investigation Book

This book covers a variety of topics that future investigators would interested in learning about the investigation industry.  Rated 4 1/2 stars out of 5 on Amazon.

Sleuthing 101: Background Checks and the Law

I picked up this book to sharpen my knowledge of laws related to background checks.

The California Private Investigator’s Legal Manual

This book was written several years ago but is an important reference in regards to topics and court cases that pertain to private investigators.

 The Question Behind the Question

One of the first books I read as a supervisor for a private investigation agency.  It is not private investigation associated but more about accountability in work and in life.

The 4- Hour Workweek 

I got the audio version of this book.   There are some great principles to apply in the business world that Tim Ferriss reveals.  I didn’t apply everything in this book to my business but some of the stuff is worth applying.

Rich Dad Poor Dad 

I finished this book on Audible. This is a very good book for anyone on finding financial freedom. This is good for any private investigator or business owner.

Recommended Spy Cameras for Surveillance Investigators

PenRecorderPro HD500 16GB 1080P Spy Camera HD Video Recording Pen

I reviewed this pen over a year ago and continue to use this as my primary covert camera when I conduct surveillance.  Here is my formal review of it and my video review is in this article as well.  Let me know if you get it and be sure to tell me how you like it.

808 Key Chain Spy Camera 1080p

I have several of these spy cameras and this is one of my favorite spy cameras to use.  It fits on a keychain and you can palm it in your hand when following someone on foot.

Gold Spy Pen 

Great for surveillance and process serving. Get an idea of how it works on my Youtube video.

Private Investigator Resources for Video Processing and Editing


This is the product I used that allowed me to take the video from a video camera and put the video on my computer with the time stamp (Date and Time) on the video.  I used this product for many years.  Can be used for all types of video cameras.  Be sure to order the correct version for your computer (Windows 7, Windows 8, Etc…).  It also comes with video editing software called Pinnacle Studio.


This is what I currently use that burns the date and time into my video clips.  It speeds up my video processing quite a bit.  Very happy with this digital product.

Windows Movie Maker 

I use this to remove the sound from my covert video.  Pretty easy to use.  If you want to learn how to remove the sound from your video then watch this VIDEO.  You can download it from the aforementioned link if it is not on your computer.  I am pretty sure this is for PC’s only.

Camtasia Studios (Video Compiling/Video Editing)

I upgraded my version of Windows to version 10 and I can’t use Windows Movie Maker any longer because Microsoft is no longer supporting it.  So if you’re not using Windows 10 you can still use Movie Maker.  Since I can not, I have switched to my main movie editor Camtasia to compile video together and remove audio from my videos.  I have used Camtasia to create 99 percent of my videos on Youtube.  Here is a link to this product if you are interested in it.

Snagit (Photo Editor)

I use this to resize photos, crop photos, put watermarks on my photos, take screenshots of different web pages and much more.  Here is the link to this digital product.

Tripod Recommendation

Manfrotto Compact Action Tripod

The Manfrotto Compact Action Tripod is an affordable, sturdy reliable tripod for private investigataors.  I have been using it for quite some time for surveillance and making videos for this website.  It quickly folds down because it does not have a middle brace and when all the legs are compact it is very small and doesn’t take up too much room.  Here is my formal review with the video review.

Send Large Files or Video


I primarily use this service to send video files to my clients.  It is reliable, allows me to notified when the video is downloaded by the client and even allows me to have an expiration date on the video.  Hightail has many other things to offer but this is what I primarily use it for.


Dropbox is another service that allows you to send/share video files.  I don’t use this very often unless it is a client requirement.  Just another tool to send information.

Investigation Databases for Investigators

IRB Search

IRB Search has been around since 2001 and has been the leader in the space of providing relevant information for investigators.  IRB has a great reputation for providing recent data for private investigators and I have always found it to be very up to date when I last used it several years ago.  I have heard from other users that it might not be as good as it use to be.  You may have to test it to see if it is a good fit for you.


TLO provides very accurate information and has been said to be as accurate as IRB Search.  They began in 2008 and have been a serious competitor for IRB Search.  The only difference between IRB and TLO may be the pricing structure for information.


I have friends that use this database and I have just begun to use it as well.  So far I have been happy with the results.  Check it out and see if it’s a good fit for you and your company.

Skip Smasher

I can’t vouch for this service because I have not used it.  I do like that they have an upfront pricing list.

Lexis Nexus

I used this many years ago because they use to provide much of the same information as IRB Search.  You will have to check it out to see if the information they have is good for you and your business.


I have only recently heard about this database provider.  I have not used it but many investigators are using it.

Website Hosting


Having a business website is a must when owning a private investigation business.  I use and trust Bluehost and use Bluehost for all of my websites including my private investigation business and this website.

Mileage Tracking


MILEIQ tracks your mileage and destinations through an app on your phone.  It is always running so you don’t have to think about it.  The app allows you to tell it what was for business and what was personal with a single swipe for each destination.  I was told by my tax professional that it is a write-off but I would check to make sure that is the case in your state.  I am an affiliate for this app and will receive compensation at no additional cost to you should you sign up for this app using this link.

Interesting Websites


Many examples of what Not to do with your investigative skills.



  1. Johannes Thabane

    I would like to start my own private investigator company please help where do I begin?

  2. About that Dazzle from Pinnacle. Is this a needed piece of equipment? Since video cameras now have SD cards and you can import from the card to a computer without this extra step.

    • Dazzle or DVMP PRO Yes you will need one of these.


      • I do not understand the advantage of having the Dazzle or the DVMP PRO. I am a video editor and my wife has just started with a firm as an investigator. Is the software needed for the time stamp? The camera she is using can place the time stamp on the video as she records.

        • Have you seen the video off the camera with the time stamp or only on the camera?

          • On the video off the camera. It’s embedded on the image.

          • If you can deliver video with a time and date stamp on the video then you do not need dazzle or DVMP PRO. What video camera is you wife using? I have only heard of one camera burning a date and time stamp into the video without a second step but I have never seen it first hand.


          • It’s a Canon Vixia HF r500. You must go through a quick setup every time, but it only takes a minute. I understand that sometimes one does not have that minute. As long as you would have the camera on the date/time is recorded on the video.

          • I think I know the mode you are talking about thought I haven’t messed with it. I have the Canon Vixia HF R600. If there is a step I would have to take each time before videotaping then I could not do it. And if doing that kept me from getting important video then I could not justify doing it. I would rather worry about it on the back end when I compile the video together. Thank you for sharing Vern.


          • I have a Vixia HF R700. With this new model you can set the time/date stamp permanently without the fuss of doing it before each shift or surveillance.

            Hope that helps.

          • Great Camera Marc,

            All video cameras have a permanent date and time after you set it. Is the HF R700 serving you well?


  3. How important is it to have both a video and still shot camera? Can you not just pull still shots from the video?

    • So I don’t take pictures during a surveillance. My camera is used for things like taking pictures of evidence, measurements, vehicle involved in an accident, etc.. I do a great deal of insurance surveillance and only take video for that.

      And yes I do pull still shots from the video and put them in the report. It gives some context when the client is reading the report as to what his happening without looking at the video. It also just makes the report look better.

      Thanks for the question Glenn

  4. Very interesting and valuable information.

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