Investigative Report Writing
by Leilani F. Canella

As an investigator, I have had the occasion to read other investigators reports as part of follow-up assignments. In my experience, I have found that investigators tend to lay out what it is they have done in very large paragraphs with the results of the investigation buried randomly within this rambling dialog.

The client may have to read the report several times to grasp exactly what it is that the investigator found out. This article will give you some basic guidelines to putting together a report that will not only save you time, but it will save your client time and frustration while impressing him or her with your abilities.

1) Organize your report into main categories with outline headings. Use roman numerals, bold and all caps. For example:


2) Under each main category, break it down once again into specific topics. Under background you might have A. Criminal Convictions, B. Driver's Record, C. Civil Judgments, Liens and Bankruptcies, D. Neighbor Interviews. Once again, the outline format breaks up the information in easy to read and easy to find blocks.

3) If necessary, break it down even further. Under neighbor interviews do
1. Marci Champagne, 123 Maple, Springfield, MO, 65807; 417-889-3391. Underline and italicize to help make it even more visually distinctive.

4) Always start your report with a summary of your findings. Busy attorneys and SIU managers want to know exactly what the results are, and they don't want to have to wade through the report to do so.

5) Only make recommendations, if they are warranted. Your recommendations should be limited to the need for further investigation and what that might entail unless otherwise asked to do so by your client.

6) Never interject your opinion about what the subject is doing, might be doing, might be feeling, might be thinking, etc. It is tempting for many of us to interpret what is going on, but our job is only to report the actions or activities that we see. Interpretation is up to the client.

7) Head each page with enough information that if the report pages get separated, the client knows where it belongs. For example:

RIPLEY/File No. 970211A
August 4, 1999
Page Four

The top line represents your client's name and his file reference number which should also be in the RE: line on the first page. You might put the subject's name there instead of a file number.

8) Always, Always, Always check your report for spelling and grammar errors. If you don't have grammar and spellcheck on your computer, have someone in your office edit your reports for you. It doesn't matter how well you lay out your report if it contains sentences like "We was watching the subject bild a shead."

9) Refer to yourself as "this investigator" or, when there was more than one investigator on the case, use "investigator A" and "investigator B" with references to who those investigators are at the end of the report. It comes across more professionally to say "this investigator" rather than "I", although sometimes you can't get around it.

10) Whenever you have documentation relating to a specific part of your report, refer to that documentation within the report. For example, when discussing the activities of the subjects captured on film, insert (see attached photographs). When referring to criminal convictions, insert (see Certified Missouri Highway Patrol Report in appendices section).

11) Organize very large reports in a binder. Use tabs with appropriate headings and even put photographs in photo sleeves within the binder. Use a table of contents page and include a listing for all appendices. The client has probably spent a lot of money for this report and it should look like he got his money's worth.

12) The number one rule to remember before mailing off your report is to ask yourself, "Does this represent the time, expertise and professionalism that went into this assignment?" If the answer is "yes", mail it. If it is "no", redo it.

Leilani Canella is a co-owner of Faber Investigations and Bulldog Technologies & Investigative Resources in Springfield, Missouri. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Writing with a minor in Communications from Southwest Missouri State University. Leilani is the Secretary of the Missouri Association of Private Investigators and the editor of the MAPI Monitor.


By Douglas O. Crewse, CFE

Professional investigative practice requires the investigative agency to produce top-flight investigative reports simply because the investigative report is the final end-product of any investigation. This new manual details the methods, approaches and techniques used to develop fine investigative reports that will make your investigations stand out. Aside from the secrets you will learn concerning investigative report writing, this manual gives you the investigative contracts and the investigative forms you need to be successful in private investigative practice today. Contents Include:

Investigative Report Writing
Funny Examples
Report Writing Objectives
Using The Proper Words
Table Number One- Word Usage In Reports
Investigative Contracts And Agreements
Table Number Two Sample Confirmation Letter
Essential Skills Of The Private Investigator
Cardinal Rules Of The Private Investigator
Cardinal Rules For Investigators Writing Reports
Background Checks
Table Number Three Background Investigation Checklist
Other Sources Of Information
Table Number Four Courthouse Research Tips
Table Number Five Background Investigation Long
Investigative Forms
A) Case Activity Log
B) Surveillance Log
C) Courthouse Case Review Data Sheet
D) Property Records data Sheet
E) Affidavit Form
Subject Information Sheet
Sample Subject Information Sheet
Sample Investigative Reports
Sample Background Investigative Report Number One
Sample Background Investigative Report Number Two
Writing Quality Investigative Reports
Table Number Six- Cast Characters Log
Sample Investigative Report Number 3-A
Sample Investigative Report Number 3-B
Actual Entries On Investigative Reports
Sample Surveillance Investigative Report
Other Helpful Hunts
What have We Learned?

If you are concerned with quality investigative report writing and investigative forms and contacts, then this is the must have reference work you need. 8 1/2 X 11, forms, contracts and tables, 80 pages. $35.00

By Douglas O. Crewse, CFE



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