Helena Snyder was in the midst of investigating a workers' compensation claim when she noticed several things were awry.
Snyder had flown to Southern Oregon to interview a school bus driver who said his arm got caught in the bus' automatic door and had filed a claim against the district. But several factors tipped her off to the truth of the matter.
"He came riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle and then drove off on his motorcycle. He had a second job, driving around, so his arm was not hurt," she said.
Snyder has been a licensed private investigator since 2007. She primarily performs asset searches, locates witnesses for motor vehicle accidents and conducts interviews for workers compensation claims and other incidents.
Prior to obtaining her private investigator license, Snyder earned a degree in Criminal Justice from Portland State University and investigated credit card fraud and insurance fraud.
Today, she has her own company, Pettus Investigations. Much of her time is spent searching through databases that hold bank records, DMV records and court reports, along with performing interviews.
When conducting asset searches, Snyder's goal is to recoup the funds that were awarded to the court after a judgment against an entity or individual. She finds out what the defendant owns in terms of property, vehicles and other assets.
To locate witnesses, Snyder does everything from looking at social media to visiting neighbors.
"It boils down to making a lot of calls (and) knocking on doors," she said.
One task that is often associated with private investigators is one she doesn't perform: surveillance.
"(People probably think) I sit in a car and watch people, and do a stake out," she said. "I don't do that. . .It takes hours of someone's day."
The size of Snyder's caseload varies, but she has five she's working on right now.
Her favorite part of the job is the opportunities for problem solving it presents.
"I like challenges," she said. "Once you start looking at the cases, you start to recognize red flags, and you have to figure out what to do next. You have all of these pieces of the puzzle and you have to figure out how to put them together."
On the job
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