By Katrina Van Duzee/Garden Grove Journal
Sherlock Holmes used reasoning and forensic skills to crack tough cases, but today’s private eye uses a lot less critical thinking and a lot more surveillance, according to a Stanton-based private investigator.
Investigator Robert Wonsch could be mistaken for the paparazzi with his big black bag filled with digital cameras, video cameras, binoculars and tall lenses, the difference he says is “you don’t know we are there.” Private investigators don’t carry around a microscope looking for strands of hair or a misplaced article of clothing; instead they squat near houses rigged with surveillance and wait to catch a glimpse of adulterors, missing people and workers compensation fraud in the act.
“Our job is to be secretive so people act themselves. Most people don’t know we are out there documenting what they are doing, so it makes it easy to catch them,” Wonsch said.
Cheating spouses, child custody issues and workers compensation fraud are the most commonly requested areas of investigation, Wonsch said.
Workers compensation claims are a big area of investigation because in California the employer only has to be 1 percent responsible for an employee’s injury, Paul Dillon, a investigator in Stanton and friend of Wonsch said. There are lots of fraudulent cases where individuals claim to be injured, collect money, but are employed somewhere else.
The nationwide average income for a private investigator is $32,000, but Wonsch said he makes more than this and “does well.” Wonsch’s services cost $65 per hour and he said a typical cheating spouse investigation takes two to three days to solve and costs between $500-$700.
Ladies night is excuse used most often when cheating, followed by staying late at work, Dillon said.
“My phone has been ringing off the hook for spouse related issues. I get from two to four calls a day,” Wonsch said.
Western Intelligence Agency, Inc., is the name of Wonsch’s Stanton-based company, which has been in business since 2004. He became interested in investigations working on surveillance in the Marines and decided to get licensed after he was honorably discharged.
So what does it take to become a private investigator?
The required credentials are 6,000 hours working under a licensed investigator, passing a written exam covering all the different privacy laws, criminal law, etc. and a background check by the Department of Justice or FBI.
Some cases Wonsch has worked on include Gretchen Rossi from the Real Housewives of Orange County’s libel and slander case, working undercover with white supremacy gangs in Huntington Beach involving a child custody case and catching a man who had fabricated a car seat onto his motorcycle and was driving around with his infant son in it.
“I love what I do,” Wonsch said. “I love helping my clients out of their situations and everyday is something new.”
To get in touch with Wonsch visit http://www.westernintelligenceagency.com or call (714) 661-5599. To request information from Dillon call (714) 827-8423 or visit his office located at 1230 S. Beach Blvd.