As a ‘veteran’ in the South African Private and Criminal Investigations industry, I get a great kick out of seeing my respected colleagues delivering outstanding investigation services to their clients. In South Africa, we are seeing more and more people and companies turning to Private Investigation firms to assist them as their confidence in the Police Services has dropped to an all-time low.
Since the 1980s, Private Investigator Ken Appelcryn has been slogging it out in a tough, dog-eat-dog industry. Having experienced great success over the years, Appelcryn offers his advice on how to stay ahead in a very competitive, technologically driven field.
“The industry has changed tremendously over the last three decades,” confirms Appelcryn.
In the past, the private investigator did all the work on his own, it was a hands-on job. Now there are so many digital gadgets available that ordinary citizens believe they can handle their own investigations – but there’s something to be said for expertise and experience, which technology alone cannot give you.
Some Interesting Cases
Over the years, Appelcryn has seen some interesting cases. “In the 80s a young man met a lady on plane and fell in love with her – but he didn’t take her contact details. He hired me to find her. For this case, I played cupid, and brought the two together.”
Less romantic, Appelcryn also worked on a case which entailed a R4.5m transformer being stolen from a client’s property. “To commit the crime, two trucks and a crane were required, yet no one saw anything. We found the culprit.”
How to Survive in the PI Industry
Appelcryn offers these key elements to success in this gruelling industry:
- It has to start with passion – it takes grit to see an investigation through, and without a passion for what you’re doing, you won’t make it
- Follow a structured process to your investigations
- A constant awareness of changing laws and regulations is critical to remaining within the confines of the law (such as POPI)
- Stay abreast of the latest equipment and technology available
- To survive, you must adapt to change and seek new ways to do the same job, better
- Don’t put all your eggs into one basket – expand into new operational areas and grow your expertise to cover different types of investigations
- Deliver excellent customer service – be reliable, trustworthy and communicate regularly
- Develop a realistic view of the industry – it’s not what it’s made out to be in the movies
Collaborate for Success, Then Train
Appelcryn started an association for private investigators, to help those working on their own collaborate with other PIs when needed – The Association for Private Investigators in South Africa (APISA). “Every PI specialises in his/her own field. This association was established to help bring members, such as D&K’s Kyle Condon, together. To empower them to pool their resources when a case demands skills that aren’t available inhouse, such as forensic investigation skills. Rather than first spending a year gaining the skills needed, network and partner with PIs who already have the skills – and take the job,” advises Appelcryn.
This does not mean training is not important. “It is essential to stay up to date in training. It’s also important for the older generation of PIs to mentor the younger generation in traditional techniques that still very much have a place in the industry,” he adds.
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org / 082 820 5363.
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