Orange County Private Investigator Blog

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“Name Behind The Number” Cellphone Skiptrace

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cellphone image 1So how do you find someone’s name from a cell phone number? This is often one of the most popular questions asked to a private investigator these days. It’s also the least understood. So lets discuss how carriers distribute your information to 3rd parties which ultimately makes your information available to private databases.

Finding a person’s name from a cell phone number is called a “reverse cell phone number search”. When a cell phone subscriber signs up with a provider, ie: Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, or Sprint, they sign a lengthy contract which usually states that third-parties that have an interest in the provider are given general demographic information about the subscriber, this may include the city they initiated service, the subscriber’s name, address and how many lines the subscriber signed up for. Third-parties keep this data on file for the length the subscriber remains with the provider. Any company that has stock, shareholder rights, and other vested interests in the telecommunication company generally has a right to access and/or store this information (it says so in that 2 yr contract you signed).

Well, private companies pay big bucks to have access to this information, mostly for marketing purposes. Some of those companies happen to be investigative database companies, who pay a fee to have “live” or “archived” results from the wireless telephone company subscriber database. This information is not accessible to the general public, you have to go through a licensed private investigator who then goes through an “information broker” to access the information.

The cost to run a reverse cell phone search or a cell phone skip trace can vary widely. Most are approximately $125 to $250 depending on demand. The turnaround time can be anywhere from 24 hours to 3-4 business days depending on the investigator you hire.


Ryan Garrahy is a California state licensed private investigator with over 10yrs experience, and owner/operator of Orange Investigations.

Orange Investigations | State Lic. 25492 | Office: (714) 248-5050 |

Curious About Your Criminal Record in California?

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building dept of justice photo american flagsDid you know that you can personally request a copy of your own criminal history here in California. The request is called a “Record Review” and it’s performed by the California Department of Justice. CA Penal Code sec. 1120-11127 allows you the opportunity to obtain a copy of your criminal record, if any, contained in the files of the California Bureau of Criminal Information and Analysis and refute any erroneous or inaccurate information contained therein. It can also help you answer questions about your past criminal history.

As a private investigator in Orange County, I’ve been asked a few times each year about how someone can find out what’s on their own record. The biggest concern individuals have is for employment reasons. Some just don’t want to “awake the beast”, worried there may be some unresolved issue buried in their record, thinking it’s best to just leave it alone. Whatever the reason is, if you’re here reading this blog then my guess is you’d like to know or at least have some clarity on where you stand.

Finding out what’s on your own record can give you peace of mind and could give you confidence when applying for employment, especially when applying for a government position. Remember, in California your employer or potential employer can only go back 7 years for criminal history. Note: Pending judgments can be reported, so if you have something that’s currently looming in the courts, it may be likely to appear. Additionally, employers can not ask an applicant to disclose any arrest or police detention that did not result in a conviction CA Labor Code 432.7 (a) and employment background companies can not report a record that didn’t result in a conviction CA Civil Code 1786.18.

Here’s how the process works. Visit the CA DOJ website and follow their instructions.

  • Use the Live Scan Form (Form BCIA 8016RR, pdf)
  • Check “Record Review” as the “Type of Application”.
  • Enter “Record Review” on the “Reason for Application” line.
  • Fill out all your personal information.
  • Take the completed form to any Live Scan site for fingerprinting services.

Cost for requesting your own record is $25.00 plus a fingerprint fee. Fingerprints can be done at the local police or sheriff’s station. Record processing time is 2-3 days, some requests may take up to 2 weeks.

Ryan Garrahy is a California state licensed private investigator with over 10yrs experience, and owner/operator of Orange Investigations.

Orange Investigations | State Lic. 25492 | Office: (714) 248-5050 | Now Selling “Spy Pens” & Hidden Cameras

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hidden camera spy pen in handWalmart Offering 3 Different “Spy Pens” For Under $100

So the other day I searching online for a nice spy pen, one that exudes a professional appearance as well as being highly reliability. There are many spy pens, pen dvr’s, or what have you. Many are just junk, and a lot of the pen cameras of the past have had serious reliability issues.

There is a pen I’ve been researching for a while, and it’s definitely captured my attention (no pun intended). The hidden pen camera is called the DOD-PH720HD, like the name states, it has the ability to capture video at 720p in HD quality. This pen also advertises it can snap still photos at 12 mega pixel resolution (if you can actually believe that). I have it on my wishlist on, and I was going to purchase it this week until I randomly stumbled upon these three “spy pens” on

Yes, you heard right. (of all places). Spy equipment is one of this last items one would picture Walmart stocking. It looks like the pens are available only online, and not in the brick & mortar stores. So why would Walmart stock a spy pen anyway?

Here’s my take on it. #1: Spy pens can be used for seminars, recording notes in a car while traveling. #2: It can come in handy for a cheating hubby / wifey’s significant other to place this sucker right on a desk or public common area without suspicion. #3: Flat out…the device is just plain cool to have!

I’m interested in hearing from anyone who currently has one of these devices or has used one in the past. I’d be interested in how the video / audio quality differs from unit to unit.

Walmart Spy Pen Camera #1:
SVAT PI101 Covert Pen DVR with Built-in Color Camera and 8GB Flash Drive

black undercover hidden pen camera image 1black pen cam detailed viewThe SVAT PI101 Covert Pen DVR with Built-in Color Camera and 8GB Flash Drive allows you to record your surroundings discreetly and transfer them to a PC or Mac via an 8GB USB flash drive. Includes covert pen DVR, three ink refills, USB cable, user’s manual, USB power adapter and informational booklet.

Technical Specs:

  • Video camera and DVR in a discreet, functioning ballpoint pen
  • Looks and writes with a normal pen
  • Pen unscrews to reveal a USB drive that can connect to a PC or Mac
  • Stores up to 7 hours of high resolution video at a time
  • Built-in lithium polymer battery can be charged via USB port
  • Includes covert pen DVR, 3 ink refills, USB cable, user’s manual, USB power adapter and informational booklet

Walmart Spy Pen Camera #2:
Swann DVR-421 PenCam Mini Video Camera & Recorder Executive-quality Black Ballpoint Pen w/ 2GB Flash Drive

The Swann PenCam DVR Mini Video Camera & Recorder is living proof the pen is mightier than the sword! The stylish-looking casing with metallic gold trim and pocket clip holds an executive-quality black ballpoint pen with hidden talents, as it contains a pinhole video camera so small you almost can’t see that it’s there. Use the PenCam to shoot AVI video files at 640 x 480 pixel resolution or JPEG still images at 1280 x 1024 photo resolution, all at the push of a button.Make your own videos or photos and store them on the built-in 2GB flash drive.

  • Real ballpoint pen
  • DVR
  • Camera
  • Easy uploads to YouTube
  • Long-lasting battery
  • 90-minute charging time

PenCam’s intelligent design includes 2GB of built-in internal memory that can store over an hour of video footage. Viewing or copying recorded files is easy, just unscrew the top of the pen to reveal a USB plug that can connect straight into your computer’s USB port. No special cables, no adapters, no drivers, no worries! Transferring files is easy as the PenCam can be used as an everyday USB thumb drive, able to store a myriad of file formats without fuss.

Walmart Spy Pen Camera #3:
Digital Peripheral Solutions Q-See4GB Covert-Ops 4GB Surveillance Pen

Q-SEE spy pen 1Product Model Number: QD113P

 Overview:  This versatile tool is built around an ultra-mini camera which combines 1.3-megapixel still photography and high-resolution real-time video with audio in a compact, discrete package. Store nearly 4,000 pictures or 2 hours of video on the internet with 4GB memory. View or save your files on any PC with a USB port. The ease of use, small size and elegant design make this a valuable tool for security personnel, business people, students, tourists and others.
Easy to Use – Playback files on Computer – Recorder Hidden in Working Ink Pen – Records Video
Takes Photos – Records Audio – Use as Webcam or Photos for Email

UPDATE: It appears is offering all 3 of these pen cameras “in stock” and at a lower price than Walmart. -OCPI Blog.

About the Author:

Ryan Garrahy is a California state licensed private investigator with over 10yrs experience, and owner/operator of Orange Investigations.

Orange Investigations | State Lic. 25492 | Office: (714) 248-5050 |

Shoplifting: Employees Steal More Than Customers Do

employee theft private investigator blog article photo 1

Kathy might seem like the perfect employee, but she’ll steal $855.00 from you this year.

In 2010, the National Retail Federation reported shoplifting nationwide increased to $3.6 billion, an 11% increase equaling $37 billion in loss from theft alone. More surprisingly, these figures were primarily from employees stealing on the job, not the customers we all assume shoplifting statistics come from.

Question: Why would an employee steal from their employer in such a fragile economy?

Answer: When employees feel undervalued, the risk of employee theft rises.

Employee theft, specifically in California, can range from potential felony charges of embezzlement and grand theft (over $400); to simple petty theft of miscellaneous store merchandise. Aside from retail theft, corporations are affected as well. Corporations are well known for issuing employees company credit cards and fuel cards for job related expenses. These “access cards” carry a greater risk of being misused for personal use and even 3rd party use (friend or relative), both considered fraud.

In July 2011, the LA Times ran an article about an LA County municipal chief who lost his job. It involved a government gas card tied to personal use of fuel purchases throughout the western United States. Whether it’s a government employee in an esteemed position or a summer intern working for free, employers should realize that internal theft can impact their bottom line and should implement measures to prevent or dissuade employee related theft.

In a difficult economy, a good chunk of employee theft may be due to the “I’ve earned it” or “I’m underpaid” or just simply “the company will hardly notice it” mentality.  Remember, one employee can greatly affect your business, especially if it’s a small business with less than 10 employees.

Keeping employees happy and eager to work for you can be an efficient and cost effective way to prevent internal theft. Employees that respect their workplace, feel valued and consider themselves an integral part of the business are often less likely to consider stealing.

Management’s ability to connect with employees on a personal level, yet maintain their supervisory respect can also minimize internal theft. When an employee steals, they are now dissolving the relationship with their manager as well as their employer. A “firm but fair” attitude is best practice in the retail industry, which is prone to higher turn over and historically shows employees being less committed to their employer.

About the Author:

Ryan Garrahy is a California state licensed private investigator with over 10yrs experience, and owner/operator of Orange Investigations.

Orange Investigations | State Lic. 25492 | Office: (714) 248-5050 |

3 Common Sense Reasons To Hire A PI

orange county private investigator blog woman worrying pictureThe “Gut Feeling”

Have you ever had that “gut feeling” about something? Maybe about someone? Studies show that our brains can dig deep into our instinctual past, making use of a plethora of thoughts and interactions in a matter seconds. The reason we have these gut instincts is to protect us from making bad decisions, decisions that don’t coincide with our beliefs, well being, and physical security needs.

My room keys are stolen, someone is following me, my credit card is being used, my boyfriend or girlfriend is cheating on me, and the list goes on… There is no end to what situation you may be in and there is no single way to handle it.

In such cases, you need someone who can watch on your issue from an independent perspective, and supporting it with facts and evidence to show you what’s right and what’s not.

#1. Private Investigators Can Act As Impartial Witness

Let’s say you’re in a situation that needs professional help, help from someone who is impartial (not connected) to your specific situation. An example would be: You suspect that your partner is being disloyal, a caretaker may be stealing, an employee may be exaggerating his work related injuries. Calling on the help of a reputable private investigator to act as an independent witness can increase your chances of success. It may be a very personal matter that you feel uncomfortable confronting. Keeping your distance can ultimately help with credibility.

#2. Private Investigators Can Help Weather The Storm

Yes, it happens to the best of us, but sometimes we get so obsessed about something we just can’t see straight! Either someone has rubbed us wrong way, we got cheated out of something we deserved, or someone has violated our trust. These situations touch us emotionally, and can blur our sense of practicality. When something is too hard to handle on our own we usually call in someone who can help, right? Have you ever called on a plumber when the toilet is leaking? Have you ever spent the night in jail wishing you called that midnight bail bondsman?

The same applies for calling in that trustworthy local PI. Private investigators are trained to see the “big picture” and can help direct you back to the practical side of the situation. PIs can provide emotional support too. Clients can feel very alone during the investigation and the private investigator may often be their only outlet for release, the only person they can fully trust with this often emotional matter.

#3. Risky Going It Alone

  • Not being familiar with the law
  • Civil liability, possible stalking charges
  • Mishandling or damaging crucial evidence
  • Limited resources as an individual
  • Credibility issues if you are a party to the matter

About the Author:

Ryan Garrahy is a California state licensed private investigator with over 10yrs experience, and owner/operator of Orange Investigations.

Orange Investigations | State Lic. 25492 | Office: (714) 248-5050 |

The 2011 OC Grand Jury; “There’s An App For That”

Yes, You Can Still Apply To The Orange County Grand Jury…But Time Is Running Out.

orange county private investigator blog grand jury california seal with california and american flag courtroom image

The Orange County Grand Jury is made up of ordinary citizens who decide on important matters within our local government.

Have you ever wanted to decide on important matters here in Orange County?

Are you an honest citizen who is at least 18 years old?

Been a resident in the County of Orange for at least 1 year?

Well then, you should hurry up and send in your application to the OC Grand Jury selection committee! Even though there’s not an Apple iPhone or iPad App Store application that streamlines the process, you can still apply via the web, or in person if you’re really old school.

Here’s What The OC Register Has To Say About The Job:

“Grand Jurors review and evaluate county and city agencies, schools, and special districts within Orange County. Prior grand juries have focused on issues such as the condition and management of Orange County jails, planning for statewide water shortages, and the child abuse index.”

“The grand jury also weighs and considers issuing criminal indictments after evidence is presented by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.”

“A grand juror must be 18 years of age or older, a United States citizen, and an Orange County resident for at least one year. Before being nominated, each qualifying applicant is interviewed by a panel of Superior Court judges. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department conducts background investigations of nominees.”

Article Credit – OC Register Journalist Andrew Galvin

About the Author:

Ryan Garrahy is a California state licensed private investigator with over 10yrs experience, and owner/operator of Orange Investigations.

Orange Investigations | State Lic. 25492 | Office: (714) 248-5050 |

Written by Ryan Garrahy, PI

December 10, 2010 at 7:03 am

Small Business Professionals: “We Can Get The Job Done”

Small Business Professionals To The Rescue!

As a customer, you want to see results. Moreover, you want to increase your profits and accomplish all your goals in a timely manner. With good quality services within customer’s timeline and budgets, small business professionals are a good alternative and often turn out to be a lot of more cost effective than hiring high-priced professionals from relatively larger businesses.

They say – “Bigger isn’t always better” and here’s the reason why…

Localized Services

orange county private investigator blog Entrepreneur "Rules of Engagement" magazine cover

Dennis Crowley co-founder and CEO Foursquare – Courtesy Entrepreneur

Often, small businesses are localized and cater to customers in and around their office location. There are certain inherent advantages caused by this localization of business. Familiarity with nearby areas and people makes it easier for the professionals to get new contacts.

From the viewpoint of prospective customers, it is always easier to approach a known face than an unfamiliar entity. In field of private investigation, it is much easier to confide in a known individual than an unknown person from a big company.

Informal, Yet Professional Approach

Difference in business approach is very distinctive between small business houses and the larger ones. As compared to the smooth and nearly informal approach in small business setups, the process is formal and time consuming in larger organizations. The formalities are limited and completed fast when dealing with small business professionals. Establishments being significantly small, you get the best attention while dealing with small business professionals.

  • One important reason for this keen attention is the limited number of clients a small business professional has. Often, small business owners run their businesses on a higher risk level as their area of operation is not too well spread out.
  • “A negative impact on the mind of a customer could lead to a bad reputation in the market.” To prevent this and to promote themselves as courteous organizations, small business professionals are usually amiable and helpful towards their customers.
  • It is a known fact that a happy customer would bring in more customers, while an unhappy customer could completely destroy a professional’s growing business.

Private Investigator; Niche Small Business Professional

You’ve seen it in the movies, the small business suite with the words “Private Investigator” etched in the window and in smaller fonts “By appointment only”. This is often cliché, but it’s true. Private investigators were meant to be small; meant to be niche.

Look at it from a government point of view. The State of California issues private investigators a personal license. This is not a company or corporation license, it’s specifically issued to that qualified person. The reason the State does this is to maintain the integrity in the service provided. The PI business was meant to be a small business operation, not some worldwide or nationwide conglomerate like some firms today. The intention of licensing one individual to one office location allows the public more specialized attention, keeping the investigator’s focus on local business, which in turn benefits the local private investigator and that community in which they serve.

orange county private investigator blog sba logo small business government divisionFor more information and statistics on small businesses, make sure to check out the Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy (a federal branch of government that represents small businesses here in America).


Ryan Garrahy is a California state licensed private investigator with over 10yrs experience, and owner/operator of Orange Investigations.

Orange Investigations | State Lic. 25492 | Office: (714) 248-5050 |

Written by Ryan Garrahy, PI

December 1, 2010 at 8:28 am


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