A Pound of Flesh


Letters from a Private Investigator X

For some strange reason some people seem to think that because we are private investigators that we will do almost anything. From some of our talks with people I think they expect us to get involved with activities such as break into hotel rooms and set up cameras and recorders, or do physical harm to a target.

It all seems to fundamentally revolve about some form of  revenge. People that have been no doubt hurt badly in some way and who want their pound of flesh for their revenge.

Basically though there are two main areas of activity that we will either not start a case or will pull out of a case.

These are illegal activities and activities that place people in danger.

Illegal Activities

I imagine this is pretty straightforward to understand. We will not for example set up spy cameras and recorders in hotel rooms.

Even with surveillance we ensure that our activities are above board by only carrying out such activities in public areas.

Having said that it could be very difficult to be successful if we acted like goody two shoes. Imagine a target under surveillance is traveling at 40 km per hour in a 35 km per hour zone. Of course we would follow.

The point really is we are not going to get ourselves in any highly criminal activities.


Our do no harm policy relates to our agents. One of the first and most important priorities of management within an Investigation Agency is the well being and safety of our agents.

Agents understand this and must always put their own safety first. If danger approaches them in any form such as a group of body guards built like brick houses, they are free to pull back. If a target is speeding at 120 km an hour our agents are free to let them go. Surveillance can start another day.

What a few people do not seem to understand when they talk with us is that we will also never put a target in danger or do harm to them. This includes physical and psychological harm or general harm to their well being.

It is important to realise that we are not judge or jury and neither is a client. Our job is to gather evidence. 99% of the time client’s do understand this. Always during any initial consultation we explain clearly the limitations and the boundaries that can not be crossed.

When for example I explain that with surveillance we may get pictures of people entering a hotel together and having breakfast together the next day, but we can never get evidence of what happens behind a closed hotel room door, clients understand.

Sometimes though we do refuse cases.

Below is an example of an enquiry we recently received. I have changed the cities mentioned and the hotel name but in essence the letter is a real request IPIA recently received.

A Case We Will Not Touch


Could you give me an estimate for each of the following tasks:

1) Find the email address and phone number of the owner of The Hotel XXX of Batam, Indonesia (owner is someone Chinese living in Medan).

2) Take pictures of target in different locations throughout the day in his activities. Target is a 26-year male living in Batam, and working at XXX Hotel. Home address could be provided. Then, these pictures are sent to the target anonymously to his work place. Preferably, I would like a picture or video of his emotional reaction as he opens the envelope and sees the pictures. 

3) I don’t know if this service could be managed or not but 1) hire someone local for a really cheap price to distribute flyers around the city of Batam, and 2) research whether a large advertisement could be placed in a public place in Batam (such as on a bus or some other highly visible public place) and to place the advertisement and 3) place an advertisement in the local newspaper”.

We have replied to this letter expressing our unease and explaining why we will  not proceed.

Our basic reservations is the fact that this reads like a highly calculated and comprehensive act of vengeance. We are being asked to assist someone to hurt someone. This is something we will not do.

There is some surveillance in there and obviously we do not know what this 26-year male has done (I am sure I could guess). Whatever he has done we certainly do not want to be part of a punishment process. Arguably what he has done might even warrant the punishment proposed, but it is not our job to make that decision, or be part of carrying out a punishment.

The writer has obviously been hurt by this man but has decided on what form of punishment should be carried out and decided to get that punishment executed. The letter seems to imply the following punishment:

1) shame at work and probably losing his job (the writer wants to know the email address of the manager of the hotel where the target works);

2) public humiliation with flyers  and a bill board on the side of a bus, and also an advert in a newspaper.

Getting involved in this kind of activity is against two of our fundamental principles.

Handing out flyers could well be illegal, probably at the very least amounting to defamation of character.

This would also be against our policy of doing no harm to a target. This  letter is aimed at slandering someone’s name, which is emotional harm, and probably having this person lose their job.

Indonesia Private Investigation Agency (IPIA) and our sister agency  Bali Eye Private Investigation Agency (BEPIA) are fully registered Private Investigation Agencies offering private detective and private investigator services to the Private and Business sectors throughout Indonesia and South East Asia.


About the Author

IPIA's Director of Investigations is an Indonesian national with a Diploma in PI work (with distinction) from the UK and an Australian Government accredited Certificate in Investigative Services. She has worked on over 400 cases for private and business clients.