Throughout history, private investigation companies have often used every tool at their disposal to help their clients uncover the information they seek. Examples of their contributions to the field of investigation include the use of forensics, surveillance, cyber investigation and more; in previous times, some private investigation services would specifically hire children and woman, who were considered less capable of subterfuge, to act as private detectives. Whatever tactic is being used, however, most private investigators would likely agree that it is important to find the right mix of new and old technology for a given situation. For this reason, at least one private investigator in California is reportedly using drones to help her clients.
Chris Wright is the owner of the Wright Group, a private investigation company based in Anaheim, CA. While Wright uses a variety of tactics to conduct her work, she says that some of her investigations can be helped considerably with a flying drone. For example, if a school or church is concerned that someone might be stealing or vandalizing their property, the drone can be used to monitor the building by video from a height of 50-75 feet, high enough that a suspect has no idea they are being watched. While she is an experienced professional in the private investigative field, Wright says she does not fly the drones herself; instead, she buys the drones at high-tech toy stores and then recruits gamers from high schools and colleges to fly them. A few are in the process of becoming licensed private investigators, and piloting the drone counts towards their hours.
But whether private investigation companies will be able to keep using drones in this manner is uncertain. Last year, 35 states considered adding new drone bills, and 10 actually established them. Moreover, President Obama and the Federal Aviation Administration recently announced new regulations that would require drones to be under 55 pounds and kept in sight at all times. For these reasons, many private investigation companies have decided against using drones in their work. But until more concrete legislation is passed, and as long as her usage doesn’t violate privacy restrictions, Wright says she plans to keep using the drones to help certain clients.