So where does an officer look when there is no data or limited data in police databases or platforms on a subject of interest. Well…. there is a wealth of information out there if you know where to look. The internet has created a location for police to research and develop information from a plethora of open databases. Many of us already use the social websites to gather intelligence information. I still find that many of the open web sources for information are underutilized by law enforcement. A great amount of knowledge and a schematic of one’s personal life can be gathered from just a few moments on the web. I have been recognized at times for having some pretty decent success during criminal interviews, and I place a lot of weight on my pre-interview intelligence gathering on the subjects I interview. I believe that an investigator who does his homework on a subject prior to an interview is always going to have a tactical advantage over those who do not. To some of you the sites I discuss may already be sites you know about and use, to many of you these sites will be new to you.
I would like to acknowledge that I do not know all of the sources that are out there, but I do know the sites that have provided me plenty of information when none was available via police platforms.
I generally DO NOT pay for information. One of the first things I like to do is know a little bit about the subject’s family, relatives and/or roommates. I have found that a great site for doing this type of research is http://www.peoplesearch.net/ . This site generally will show middle initial and the cities and states the subject has lived in. The top city is generally the most current. On the right side of the search results is a list of any known relatives or roommates to your subject. Of course the famous “more information” button is available and for a fee you can get that information. Always remember to print your results page out for later review. I often will then run the relatives and roommates through the system as well; this will give me a better idea sometime of how they fit into the subjects life. None of the sites I will discuss are going to give you everything you want, it’s more like a jig saw puzzle, you will get a little from each one to make your puzzle.
I have also found that http://pipl.com/ is a useful tool for looking into a persons life. This particular site allows for you to search by a user name, full name or email address. The results can provide any web information or articles that include the subjects name you entered. This site will also give an address many times for your subject. I use this site a lot if all I have is an email or screen name as it will sometimes lead me to a name.
Another site that does nearly the same thing but sometimes gives you a few different results is http://peekyou.com . This site also allows for you to search by a name and username. It is not uncommon for the site to give you several photographs of your subject from different sources from sites such as photobucket.com to social sites that they have posted in the past.
Once I have a username for a subject I like to know where to look for information. There are several tools to determine where your subjects username is used and what sites they utilize with that username. The one site that seems to be the fastest is http://knowem.com . This site will search many of the popular music, social, photograph and niche sites for the username. The site will notify you which sites the username is already registered at by putting a line through the site and shadowing the site name. This can be extremely helpful when you’re trying to figure out where your target hangs out when online.
There are several sites out there to track use on social websites. The site http://www.monitter.com/ allows you to put in keywords, maybe a username? The site will then track that set of keywords on Twitter.com and keep a log for you every time the set of words is used. This can be helpful if you’re trying to track a person’s contacts and communications.
Another good source for searching a popular social site is http://youropenbook.org/ . This site will allow you to enter a search term and search Facebook for all open posts containing those keywords. This can be helpful when tracking a particular gang or group that has a slogan or uses terms unlike others.
There have been many times that I have found that my target owns a business. Most states register businesses through the secretary of state in the state in which the corporation operates. The secretary of state usually has a database that is open to the public and searchable. Just Google your state secretary and find the corporations search engine on the site.
When I am looking for a subject that I have a first and last name on but no other information I tend to look in voter databases. Many states have “watchdog” groups that have a website with a searchable database for all past and current registered voters of the state. In Washington State the site http://www.soundpolitics.com/voterlookup.html allows you to search the voter registrations. The results provide the first, last and middle initial as well as the full date of birth and a partial address(usually leaving out the last digit of the address) with street included. On this site if you click on the address, the site will search that address and provide all the registered voters at that address.
Ok, now that I have given you a few sites to look at, there is a “motherload” of all search sites. This allows you to use one page for all of you engines http://www.toddington.com/research/index.html . Here you will find a plethora of search engines categorized by people and company, social profile searches, meta and mega search tools, video and multimedia, username, geographic, news, proxy and a many other categories.
This has been a very brief overview of what’s available. I encourage you to visit some of these sites and see what you find, you may just be surprised.
Written and submitted by Kirk Keyser
Vice President ICP Archway Inc.
Kirk is a current law enforcement officer with 17 years of experience and the owner of the PoliceArch™and Icparchway.com which is a web based law enforcement communications platform. Kirk has a investigations background in homicide, major crimes, state and federal narcotics task forces, property and fraud. During his time as a LEO I have been involved in the implementing of the theories of Intelligence Led Policing, Community Oriented Policing, Problem Oriented Policing and Predictive Policing.