SKIP TRACE TRICKS FOR THE REPO MAN,
BAIL ENFORCEMENT AGENT AND INVESTIGATOR
By Ralph Thomas

 
Editorial Note: Recently an eight pointed remark was made on the private-eye list about how to go about locating a debtor skip for an auto repossession with an ending remark--what would you do next? Here are the eight-point remarks with my suggestions.
1. Credit Bureau Header? Only as a matter of due diligence, in case the
skipper has changed his address for his Sears account since the lenders
gnomes ran it last week. he hasn't.
COMPUTER SEARCHES: CREDIT HEADERS:
Aren't going to show up with a new address on everyone and some are smart enough to know not to fill certain paperwork out that might end up there. However, many are not. Moreover,, there is going to be a great deal more INPUT than from just Sears or another credit card. Job applications and applications for apartments many times end up as credit bureau headers. They are worth running perodically again.
TIP: If your client is a lending institution or bank, they can run this stuff for you. Get them too. BUT make sure you are getting all three credit bureau networks. You'd be surpised at the ones that still don't have all three.
FROM THE SKIPPER'S SIDE:
He might just fill out a mailordered credit card form that says he moved to the other side of the country which ends up as an address in credit bureau header info.
2. DMV? In this state, it takes months to finally register on the state
traffic DISPOSITIONS listing. He's changed cohabiteurs twice since then.
Some states are BETTER than others--county records are usually the most current. Key things to remember is:

A) WHEN IS HIS LICENSE UP FOR RENEWAL
B) WHEN IS THE TAG GOING TO EXPIRE

This may or may not help. He could drive on an expired license (many do) and use someone else's tag or whatever--but it's worth considering.
 
LOCAL COURT TRAFFIC TICKETS!
There might have some and there's a lot of info in them. Go to the courthouse, check the record index--pull the ticket--collect ALL the information on it. Most people get tickets within a fifty mile radius of where they live but remember, there's always exceptions to the general rule.
3. Doorknocks? If you're confident that whoever answers the door is willing
to loan their car to the deadbeat once you pull it home. This one won't.
Knock again--another day--another investigator-try a Uniform and a dozen roses in your hand. Some are better at this than others.
4. Telephone Pretexts? Assuming that the deadbeat hasn't told anyone he's
hiding from the repo man, this would work. He did.
Even if he did--some are better at pretexts than others. Do what you do best and hire out the rest.
5. Real Property index? Only if the deadbeat would rather lose the car in
spite of having lots of money for house payments, etc. Not likely, and not
this time.
I would doubt if someone who can not make their car payment would be out buying real estate but you missed the point. Sometimes real estate transactions show other things such as real estate brokers, third parties--these are all people who might have leads. You are more likely to find an eviction or foreclosure than anything else, These little gems still have leads.
6. Court Records? It's happened that a scheduled court appearance has been
discovered that allowed for following him FROM court to the car, but this
ensures an interesting disagreement over who leads as you dance inside the
opened car door. Good luck if you think you can find the car while he's
attending the hearing. He's not scheduled.
Court records can often produce other things. The important point in a skip trace investigation is to collect all the information on the subject that you don't have because each piece you don't have might be a lead to other sources or used as the missing puzzle to find him. For example, depositions in divorce records can produce all kinds of info you don't have. Civil records will produce attorneys and a kind of enemy's list. Marriage records produce a name of church or preacher.
CIVIL LIST OF PROCESS SERVED: Many times, I have found addresses of recent service of process in civil court records because it seems people under a track down of a repo man many times have lots of people trying to extract funds from them in a court of law. The process sever and/or law firm already did all the work tracking the guy down--you just copy the address on file and go repo the car.
7. Call his draft board? Who's old enough to remember this gem?
If he's in the service, he just can not hide. Get Col. Dick Johnson's manual--
HOW TO LOCATE ANYONE IN THE MILITARY
Ok, so what's a pro to do from here? What's the very next source to check?
I know the answer, and so do some of the other regular writers on this
INTERACTIVE list. Trouble is, I think there's more than a dozen people out
there with good ideas, but they don't get involved in posting them because
they're either too shy, stupid, lazy, busy, selfish, new, old, forgetful,
or....yeah, that about covers it. If you don't respond, you don't get to
pick busy, I've already assigned that one to the ones who always post ideas.
I don't really think there would be "the answer" depending on the case----here are some ideas around resources:
Traffic tickets are good.
Good old fashioned gumshoe investigations helps.
If he's still married, stop looking for him and start looking for his wife, his children or his dog. I once found a repo case by tracing the family pet.
KEY HOLIDAYS AND BIRTHDAYS: In my repo days, we usually repoed more cars on Xmas eve than any other time in the year. We simple kept driving buy gandma's house and mom and dad's. Birthdays and other holidays are useful.
PEOPLE SOMETIMES GO BACK TO WHERE THEY CAME FROM: If a skip in Florida was from Pittsburg before he moved to Florida, there's a good change he went "Home" There are many records you can find that point in certain directions:
SSN NUMBER
EMPLOYMENT RECORDS
OLD GIRLFRIENDS
PEOPLE WHO KNEW HIM OR HER
FRIENDS AND ENEMIES
HANGOUTS AND HOBBIES: One time we traced a two bit actor by targeting a certain area developed from other leads and monitoring the local actor plays. This one was a life insurance fraud. He had changed his name--but we found him in a two-bit theater in Washington State. His photo was in the theater program.
BARS---(repos seem to go along with heavy drinking--many have problems but have a favorite hangout--find it and he'll show up)
BOWLING ALLEYS: People will go to great lengths to hide from the repo man but they aren't going to give up their favorite sport. Most bowling alleys have lists of area bowling teams--so do many other sports.

PEOPLE ESTABLISHED IN ONE PROFESSION, USUALLY STAY IN ONE PROFESSION: We once where on the trial of a good car salesman who skipped out. By simply canvassing car dealers in targeted areas developed though other leads, we were able to find the skip.
GET HIM TO CALL YOU AND USE CALLER ID, THAT TYPE OF THING: It requires a great deal of work on your part--sometimes it works--sometimes not.
WHO REALLY KNOWS WHERE HE'S AT:
MOM REALLY KNOWS
DAD REALLY KNOWS
GRANDMA LIKELY KNOWS
They didn't tell you--ask again--ask correctly--ask intelligently--like, "well,
the investigative bills keep mounting and he'll eventually have to pay."
PEOPLE ARE MOTIVED BY THREE THINGS:
A) Money (consider offering an award)
B) Pride (You can sometimes use this to get what you came for)
C) Fear (stress the disadvantages of not telling)
FOLLOWING OTHER TRAILS:
Boating, biking, barbershop singing, pot smoking, reading dirty magazines, church gatherings, sky diving and scruba diving, book reading, computer running--these are all special interests with hidden trails in them you can sometimes sniff out, target in on and maybe repo that car!
OTHER BUSINESS TIPS!
CHARGE FOR INVESTIGATIONS!
Let the other guy take the case from the client that's willing to pay a flat $49.00 with no expenses-no investigation fees and no driver allowance--you'll be better off in the long run!
BAD CLIENTS!
Buy-here-pay here-used car lots!
Some are worse than the repoee himself!

MORE RESOURCES
You'll find tons of other advanced skip trace techniques and tips you can use in the all
new 1997 edition of: HOW TO FIND ANYONE ANYWHERE
For 101 other tricks see these web pages for articles:
MISSING PERSONS AVENUES:
By David A. Mollison
Perspective And Insight Into Locating Missing Persons http://www.pimall.com/nais/bk.missing.html
OBSERVATION STILL MATTERS
How to Increase Your Powers of Observation
By Ronald L. Mendell CLI
http://www.pimall.com/nais/n.obser.html
STATE PUBLIC RECORDS DATABASES ON THE WEB
A treasure chest of free searchable databases on the web and sites to help
you find more. Compiled By Ralph D. Thomas
http://www.pimall.com/nais/linkst.html
THE MISSING PERSONS RESOURCE CENTER
http://www.pimall.com/nais/missingm.html
THE ART OF INTERROGATION
By Barry Zalma-Attorney At Law
http://www.pimall.com/nais/nzalma.html
BEST PRETEXTS FROM P.I.'s AROUND THE COUNTRY
This list of pretexts has recently come across the mailing list
private-eye@netcom.com
http://www.pimall.com/nais/n.pretext.html
FREE ONLINE FILTERS TO USE ON LOCATING
MISSING PERSONS BY COMPUTERS
Free searches you can use as filters before you send money down a modem line.
By Ralph Thomas
http://www.pimall.com/nais/n.mpfilters.html
THE TOP TEN SEARCHES TO LOCATE SKIPS
AND MISSING PERSONS WITH EFFECTIVE PROSPECTIVE
Learn What The Top Sources Are, How To Use Them Correctly And Analize What You Get Effectively For Successful
Skip Tracing By Ralph D. Thomas
http://www.pimall.com/nais/n.ten.ss.html
FINDING PEOPLE'S E MAIL ADDRESS
FAQ Maintained By David Alex Lamb
http://www.pimall.com/nais/n.emailfind.html

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Expert Guide To Finding Anyone With A Military Connection
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FINDING BIRTH PARENTS & OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS
A Manual For Conducting Adoptee/Birth Parent Searches
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 PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR'S GUIDE FOR THE INVESTIGATION
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JOIN TRACER - A FREE FORUM!
TRACING MISSING PERSONS AND SKIP TRACER'S FORUM: This group is for professional private investigators who trace missing persons and other professionals who trace missing persons. It's limited to people in the business and profession only. Tracer is the largest such group on the net. It's purpose is to share ideas, sources, Internet resources, keep up-to-date on legal aspects of locating missing persons, ask for assistance and act as a beneficial network. It's help for you to develop skills to find missing persons easier! Membership requires approval before subscription starts and you need to post a note stating how you are connected to the profession. Posts are moderated and must be relevant. This is NOT an argument, bashing, spamming nor an opinion group and those posts will not be put through. Although there are many in-house skip tracers such as those with banks, charge-off departments, collection agencies and so forth, this group is mainly private investigators.

 

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