Who needs to hire a private investigator?
‘Every day I get calls from parents who are suspicious of the nannies watching their babies in their homes,” says private investigator Chaim Pinchas of Shogun PI. “Lately, more and more parents are asking me to do background checks on their nannies so they can relax a little.”
The recent indictment of Zippora David, the nanny accused of abusing Bat-El and Doron Rogov’s baby boy, has once again raised the question: How can we prevent similar incidents from taking place in the future? Many people don’t trust their first impression or gut feelings anymore, and instead approach private investigators so they can get their hands on as much reliable information as possible.
“People come to us because they know that we can access information they can’t,” explains Pinchas. “We install hidden cameras in their homes and watch nannies’ actions very closely.
“Some people want me to do a background check and find out if any complaints were lodged against them at their previous jobs, or if they have any personality attributes that might make them decide not to hire them. Nowadays, you can glean a lot of information from the Internet and browsing through a person’s social media accounts.
“We contact previous employers and ask them lots of questions. This is a very efficient way to build a profile, since it’s not very hard to get people talking and telling stories, if you know how to go about it. For example, if a nanny had been fired, then the previous employer might tell another parent that she’d been an ‘OK’ nanny and not want to go into details. But we’re very experienced in getting more details out of people.
ITI investigations director Irad Tamir notes, “Sometimes people even want us to check out their own relatives who are watching their baby, such as
grandparents, siblings and cousins. They want us to check for any incidences of pedophilia or violence. We have lots of ways to check people’s pasts, including contacting previous employers, and then we put together a full profile, including personality traits.
“As we all know from watching the nightly news, unfortunately the most harmful abuse is carried out by family members. That’s why you need to really dig deeply before putting your children in the care of another person.”
Private investigator Avi Dor explains, “Parents also are intent on installing a nanny cam in their homes so they can watch how their nanny interacts with their child. We install cameras that connect to the Wi-Fi so that the parents can watch the goings on from their smartphones or computers. Sometimes they want the cameras to be hidden in objects, whereas other people are open about the existence of a camera in their home. The cost of setting up a camera in a client’s home starts at around 2,500 shekels, including installation. “Legally, employees must be informed that a home is being filmed 24 hours a day. The law does however allow for special circumstances if it involves the care of a baby or elderly person.” As for the issues parents are most concerned about, Dor says, “They just want to make sure their baby or child is in good hands, that no violence, abuse or neglect is taking place. There are also gadgets that can be placed inside a diaper bag or attached to a stroller so the nanny can be tracked while outside of the house, too.”
SOME CASES are a little more complex when the client wants the PI they’ve hired to follow and spy on the nanny. Pinchas says, “We can track a nanny as she walks with the child to the park or on the way to kindergarten. We watch to see how the nanny treats her charge. We watch to see if she ignores the child and goes to chat with 20 other nannies who are also hanging out in the park. We check if she treats the child kindly, and then report our findings back to the parents.
“We invest a number of hours on surveillance so that we can get a good idea of her behavior. Many times the nanny can spend a lot of time in the park chatting with friends without ever peeking into the baby carriage to see if the baby’s OK. It’s very rare to find a nanny who treats a baby as a mother would. Most nannies are generally apathetic or worse. It’s also important to check how often they change a baby’s diapers or if they feed them on time.”
Dor says, “I’ve also been requested to follow a nanny when she goes outside with the baby. Parents want to know where she goes with the baby, how she treats the baby. We film and record everything. I’ve seen so many cases of neglect, times when a crying baby was ignored. When parents watch the footage of scenes like this, they get so upset, and justifiably so.
“Anyone who is suspicious or has a bad feeling that something’s just not right. I’m not saying everyone should panic and run to hire the services of a PI, but parents should always be paying close attention and listen to their gut feeling.”
Tamir recalls, “I’ve seen so many nannies forcefully feed babies or completely neglect them, while they scroll through their social network account. There have even been cases in which violence was involved, at which point I’ve instructed my investigator to intervene and separate the nanny from the child until a parent arrives on the scene. I’ve also encountered many cases in which the nanny failed to strap the child into a car seat properly before taking them somewhere in the car.”
NOT EVERY parent, however, can afford to hire a private investigator. “It’s true. Our services do not come cheaply,” says Tamir. “But when it comes to the safety of your child, our help is worth every shekel invested. I myself have four children, and so I know what it feels like to want to keep them out of harm’s way. Unfortunately, I’ve found that in most cases where a parent has some type of suspicion, there’s usually reason for that. So I recommend that before hiring someone, you do a background check on her. It’s easy and cheap, and tells you a lot about a person. This is the best way to protect your loved ones.”
Pinchas observes, “It’s not easy to watch a recording of the nanny slapping your child. No parent should ever have to witness that. But it’s not so uncommon for someone who decides to install a nanny cam in their home to discover disturbing scenes. Since it’s so easy to use a nanny cam, and they don’t cost much, I think everyone should install one. And I even recommend telling the nanny that there’s a camera, and that you will be checking up on her. In addition, it’s very important to show up at random times so that the nanny realizes that she needs to be on best behavior at all times. I also think parents can go spy at the park by themselves to see how the nanny treats the baby.”
Tamir notes, “Whenever an incident of abuse is broadcast on the news, we get inundated with calls from worried parents. It’s no different than any other field in that respect. But then after a week or two it goes back to normal. The most difficult part of watching a recording with a parent in which their child is being abused is seeing how guilty the parent feels. Sometimes the stress of this can lead to couples separating.”
Osnat Vatori, the director of Rightful Parenting, which promotes children’s and parents’ rights and welfare in Israel, says, “Hiring a PI costs a lot of money, and it takes time until you get any information. Most parents are stressed to get back to work, so I recommend installing a camera by yourself, asking potential nannies for references and actually calling them, and then continuously popping in at unexpected times to keep the nanny on her toes. Being alert can save a life.”
THE RECENT indictment of nanny Zippora David for abuse of a client’s baby boy has once again raised the issue of prevention of similar incidents.
‘SOMETIMES PEOPLE even want us to check out their own relatives who are watching the baby.’
PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR Avi Dor.