Who needs to hire a pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tor?

The Jerusalem Post - The Jerusalem Post Magazine - - CONTENTS - • By ILANA STUTLND

‘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.”

(Pho­tos: Cour­tesy)

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.’


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