Detective Agency | History
Two people stood at the origins of a private investigation as a business: the former head of the French criminal police, Eugene Francois Vidocq (1775-1857) and the American citizen – Alan Nathaniel Pinkerton (1819-1884). The subjects of private investigation were not only lonely detectives but also detective agencies.
As already mentioned, the beginning of a private investigation as a business began Eugene Francois Vidocq. Before getting a job in the police, Vidocq had time to play on stage, serve in the army, and also spend several years in prisons and galleys for theft and fraud. Despite the fact that Vidocq’s activities in the police were very productive and in 18 years of service he exposed about 20 thousand criminals, in 1828 he was dismissed as a “former thief”. Six years later, in 1834, Vidocq set up the first ever detective agency, the “Bureau of Investigation for Trade”. Industrialists, bankers, and businessmen became customers of Vidocq, just about four thousand subscribers (as it was then called). The subscription fee for the services of the agency initially amounted to 200 francs per year.
In the United States, the first private detective agencies arose when the police system was in its infancy. Detective agencies actually replaced the police services – on behalf of private individuals, they were engaged in solving various criminal offences, searching for missing people and stolen property.
The first American detective agency appeared in Chicago in 1850. It was founded by the Scot Alan Nathaniel Pinkerton. Initially, the Pinkerton detective agency specialized in capturing train robbers and safe box hackers, but then expanded its scope of activities. In 1892 there were already fifteen detective agencies. In 1929, about a thousand detective agencies operated in the United States, each of which had a large peripheral network. Currently, there are more than 3,500 detective agencies, bureaus and companies in the United States.
Now in France about 300 private detective bureaus are officially registered, and besides them there are hundreds of detective offices that do not have a license and are hiding under names like “Surveillance Service”, “Surveillance Bureau”, etc. In the UK there are only a few large and many small private detective agencies, which serve about two thousand detectives.