Greer SC bounty on a hunch

We just got back from a road trip to Greer SC. We even slept in the “bounty hunter hotel”. The trip went well. 36 hours with very little sleep, a little over 1000 miles round trip.

We were acting on a hunch that our guy was living with his mom in SC, so we went there. With 3 days left to pay the bond and no luck with phone contact it was our last resort. Had we not gone it would have cost $2300 for sure to pay the bond, had we gone and not been successful it would have cost $2300 + expenses for the trip. That’s why experienced bondsmen make these choices and sometimes with nothing more than a hunch. Not all hunches pay off but since this one did, we saved the $2300 and are only out the expense for the trip. ROUGHLY $250

People wonder why bail bonding works, well that’s why. See, a police department will not bring someone back from 8 hours away to face their charges on a misdemeanor charge in our state. They have no incentive to do so. A bondsman will because it costs less in gas to make the trip than to pay the bond off. That’s the whole point in the bonding system. Not to keep poor people in jail but to make sure that the accused see their day in court.

When we arrived in SC we did what we normally do. We let the police know that we were there. We did a drive by on the address to size it up then we came up with a plan of approach. As an added layer of protection we tried to contact a local bonding company so that we would have a SC licensed agent with us although that’s not required by SC law. Much to my disappointment, out of 7 companies called, only 1 answered the phone and she would not give us her bounty hunter’s name or # because “he only hunts on weekends and he’s busy with my files” and “that bond wouldn’t be big enough for him to fool with”. So, that’s the kind of help we get from other companies more often than not. Another company called me back after seeing a missed call and I explained what we needed and he said he would call me back and never did. All we really wanted was an agent to spend 15 minutes of their time to be there when we knocked on the door and/or to let us know what to expect out of local law enforcement if they got involved. Ironically the local LE was way nicer and more helpful than our “fellow bondsmen”.

We decide to go ahead and make contact at the mothers address. A young girl and young man come to the door and tell us that they haven’t seen him in a “while” (teen speak for 3 hours) but they did put me on the phone with his mother. After a short and pleasant conversation, the mother let me know that we are welcome to come by any time but he doesn’t live there he just comes by off and on. She also told us that he didn’t have a phone and she had no way to get in touch with him. Hmmm, OK anyway. Once we made the choice to knock on that door we eliminated the element of surprise but it was a chance I was willing to take. We leave and do some driving around and looking for him to be walking around and hanging out with no luck. So, we decide to go get some food and sleep in our “bounty hunter hotel”. Once we get settled, I get an urgent call over the radio from the office. I say “go ahead” and words that don’t often come over the radio were “ I just got off the phone with your guy, he’ll be at his mom’s house waiting for you when he gets off at 8:00”. WOW, that doesn’t happen often. Apparently “somebody” was able to get a hold of him. So, it’s like noon and we have 8 hours to kill. We decide to go into Greenville and visit Palmetto State Armory, while we’re there we get to watch half the staff run out the front door and take down a shoplifter. Then we checked out all the cool gear and grabbed some patches and t-shirts for the memory. We go from there to see a waterfall in town where we played with some random dogs that a couple had that were just running around. Then we had dinner at Smoke On The Water which by that time exhaustion prevented me from being able to eat but it looked good in front of us. By the time we were finishing dinner it was after 8:00 so I called our guy (on that phone that he didn’t have) and sure enough he was at his mom’s waiting.

We arrived at his moms to find about a dozen guys in the driveway hanging out a drinking. Of course my thoughts are, this could be a set up. But regardless, we were there now. I get out of the van and ask, who’s ********. He spoke up immediately and said “I’m right here”. He hugged and said by to everyone and we loaded up into the van no cuffs no fuss and head on down to Mississippi. I had chosen not to show up at the guys house in full battle rattle as to not embarrass him since he was doing the right thing. In fact, I wasn’t wearing anything to Indicate what I was or why I was there. So when his friends asked where he was going, he just said he had to go handle some business. He can tell them if he wants on his terms later.

Our guy was an interesting, intelligent and pleasant guy. He wasn’t a bad guy but he made no apology for who he was and the life he lives. We had some very interesting and entertaining conversation on the way back. When I dropped him off at the police department, we shook hands and he thanked me for being straight with him.

I hope that one day he finds his path to success without the illegal ways of getting there but none the less he’s a grown man and is well aware of the risks. We had a successful hunt and he gets to move past this chapter his life. We even got to have breakfast with a long time friend that I met in person for the first time while we were there.

I thought I would share this story about how cool this job CAN be but also show how a little honesty and respect can go a long way. I hope you enjoyed it. Check out the pictures of the trip and of the “bounty hunter hotel” below.

I love what I do!

Bail bonding isn’t what we do, it’s who we are!

Recovery Agents Critically Injured

It has been brought to my attention that there may have been information in this article that was not intended to be known by the general public. Until I get further clarification I am removing the information.

As soon as I have the clarification I will update this page.

Thank you and stay safe out there

Do you have “it” ?

Well, what is “it”?

There are a lot of things that can be taught. Whether you are a bounty hunter, a writing agent or both, anyone can be taught the basics; the ins and outs. As long as you can read and write, you can be taught to fill out paperwork, to answer the phone and ask the right questions. You can be taught to knock on doors and ask about the person that you’re looking for. Handcuffing techniques, firearms retention and house clearing. All of these things can be taught and even mastered by many different people from all walks of life but none of that matters if you don’t have “it”.

In almost 20 years on the job, much of that has been spent as a supervisor or an owner but more importantly as the person that is in charge of hiring new agents. This is probably the most challenging part of what I do. Finding people that are interested in a career in bail bonding is the easy part. Finding someone who has “it” is probably one of the most difficult things that I have to do. This job is a unique job in the respect that it’s fairly easy to get into but it’s not the easiest job to do.

This work takes a special kind of person, not to do the job, but to be good at the job. You can’t be taught to have “it”. The seasoned agents will be able to relate to what I’m talking about and there are, of course, those who are naturally adept to this kind of work. It’s that nagging itch in the back of your neck that tells you that your fugitive is in that house before you even get out of the car. That feeling in your gut that every word your co-signer is saying is a lie, a good one, but a lie none the less. Most good agents that I know are very intuitive people, sometimes to the point of creepy, like “How could he possibly know that about me?” kind of creepy. It’s that intuition, that gut feeling and that eye for detail that makes up the “it” that I’m talking about.

Part of this can be learned and developed over time with a bit of effort but it doesn’t come easy to everyone. As an agent, you have to learn how to read people and read the conversation. You have to learn to see past the lies that the experienced con artists tell you and the promises that every inmate, who is biding for their freedom until court, makes. We often talk to our potential bond several times before we write the bond. You should be able to pick up on the small changes in their story. For example, 30 minutes ago they told you that they work at xyz co. but when you talk to them again it turns out they had only put an application in but were sure they got the job. They tell you their living situation but it turns out they are counting on having a place to live when they get out but the person that they claim to live with doesn’t know it yet. A good agent can see thru most of the bs but they still get over on you from time to time; it’s just part of the job. While you’re out bounty hunting, you have be able to pick up on the subtle changes from the last time you were at a house, like there was a light turned off that was on a hour ago and the car in the driveway was 3 feet closer to the house even though no one came to the door when you knocked. Why didn’t they open the door? What or who are they hiding? My favorite one is the super helpful and talkative person today turned into a paranoid door cracker or won’t open the door at all tomorrow. On almost every occasion of that, the person that I was looking for was on the other side of the door.

These are the things that can’t really be taught. Like I said earlier, some people are naturals at the things that make a good agent, but most of us have to work at it and develop skills. Most of us have to make some pretty bad mistakes and learn from them. No one can teach you experience and some people just don’t have “it”.

Even if you don’t have “it” that doesn’t mean you don’t belong in the business, it just means you have room to learn and improve. As long as you are willing to learn, you’re able to grow. As soon as you know it all, it’s time to get out.

Cuffs now or cuffs later

While I was reading in one of many industry groups, one of the people in the group asked a simple question. I can only assume that the guy is in the business as this particular group is pretty good at getting rid of the posers and trouble makers.

“Do you allow your Fugitive to put on clothes and shoes and gather their belongings before handcuffing them? Why or why not?”

This question caught my attention for a few reasons and I thought it would be a great 1st article. I don’t know the experience level of the person that asked or if they were asking just to get a conversation started, but here is my take on the subject.

In our line of work safety is at the very top of the list! We often depend on the element of surprise to find and catch our skips. Even the people who know we are coming, usually don’t know when or where. People are often very surprised when we walk through the door and they are looking at an agent face to face. While that doesn’t apply to every single person; it does to most. We do most of our bounty hunting at night, so as you can imagine, we find people in an assorted variety of dress. Over the years I have more frequently found people dressed than not, but on occasion you will find your subject in the shower or in bed asleep in their birthday suit. When that time comes, we have to make immediate decisions with that safety sally chomping at our heals.

One of my top rules is handcuff first, then talk. Part of the element of surprise is getting your subject into handcuffs before their brain has time to process what is happening. Often times we have a very narrow window of time before sheer surprise wears of and fight or flight kicks in. It’s during that narrow window that you want to have your subject safely detained. You can always change your mind and take the cuffs off, especially if you are dealing with a subject of the opposite sex who is hiding under the sheets in all their glory. If you wait and decide to put the cuffs on later, you are allowing a lot of opportunities for a lot of different things to go wrong. Your subject could be planning a run for it and do a swan dive through an open window behind the curtain. There could be a weapon near by that you are not aware of and the appearance of digging around for their clothes could give them a chance to use it. But more common than those, people just get scared and do things that they normally wouldn’t. The more time that goes by, chances are they are getting themselves more and more worked up to do that thing that they normally would not do. Fear can be a powerful motivator and a major factor in one’s choices.  Once you put the subject in cuffs, it’s like closing that fear door. What would be fear turns to resolve. They know they are secure. They know that “it’s over” and it removes most of those would be opportunities for something to go wrong.

I’ll give a couple of instances and how I handle those.

Once they are in cuffs, they need to be in the car in less than 3 minutes. Anything beyond that; you are asking for trouble. Some criminals bide for time so they can formulate a plan, and whether their plan works or not, it’s unnecessary trouble for the agent.

If I walk into a bedroom and my subject is under the covers naked, 1st and foremost, I want them to show me their hands, both of them. You can cuff the hands over the sheets and move them to behind later. If you are working alone, then hand them the closest article of clothing you can see and let them put it on. Once the family jewels are covered, you can decide about shirts, shoes and other items. I usually slip a shirt on my subject over the arms; they can put their arms thru at the jail. I’ll let them slip some shoes on but now we have to go.

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Recently I did a recovery and found the guy in the bathroom having just gotten out of the shower. He was standing in front of the mirror in a towel about to shave. It was a very small space and the only way out was thru me. I asked him to put the razor down and I immediately put him in cuffs. In this instance, I had a partner with me and that changes things quite a bit. While my partner stood watch, I retrieved the mans clothes and I dressed him. He had been running pretty hard and I wasn’t about to take the cuffs off. Dressing a suspect always makes me nervous because I am very vulnerable during a few times of this process, but sometimes it just can’t be helped. Had my partner not been there, or had the guy given any issues, he might have gone to jail in that towel with a shirt pulled over his arms. Ultimately we put the travel chains on him because it was going to be a long ride and he was not giving us any issues.

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The moral of the story is safety has to take priority. The quicker you get in and out with your subject, the safer you are. There are exceptions to every rule and situations can dictate what you can and can’t do at the time but overall, get your fugitive and get out of there, everything else is fluff.

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