The spy game has changed. In a fascinating interview with The New York Times, Brooklyn-based private investigator Marie Schembri looks back on some of her best lewks… as well as how the profession has evolved in the past 30 years.
Turns out the private eye isn’t just a film noir trope
Business is booming — to the tune of $6.6B in 2019, and it’s projected to grow.
While it used to be jealous husbands seeking proof of infidelity during divorce proceedings, now more women are hiring PIs to avoid being catfished by potential paramours… or worse. According to stats from the Centers for Disease Control, women are more likely than men to be stalked or abused by a romantic partner.
And what used to be a boys’ club has changed dramatically. According to New York’s Society of Professional investigators, 40% of its members are women and about 40% are people of color. Talk about diversity, inclusion… and a license to thrill.
Technology makes snooping way easier
When the Times first caught up with her in 1995, Schembri revealed herself to be a master of disguise, transforming from prim schoolmarm to sneering punk. But now the stakeout has gone digital.
Surveillance cameras as small as pencil erasers can be hidden in multiple locations, which allows Schembri to do most of her work from a computer. Instead of trailing her targets IRL, she follows their digital trails. Basically, her work has become a sweet work-from-home gig.
But a good PI is more than an ace Facebook creeper
There’s a lot more to the job than the ability to sift through someone’s news feeds.
A lot of it is about data and records; knowing how to access them and interpret them is the name of the game. Schembri got her start as a tax investigator specializing in real estate cases and was able to parlay that into a PI career.