Eugène François Vidocq

The Founder Of Private Investigation

Private investigation in modern times is increasingly impressive and much of the thanks for this is due to technology. It is now easier to track down, create videos and even photograph or record misbehaving individuals, fraudsters and even find missing people much faster than it was before.

This private investigation journey started with a man who set up an investigative agency. The intention was to investigate different kinds of crimes and secure the needed information through spying and surveillance. The founder’s name is Eugene Francois Vidocq. He was born back in 1775 in Arras in France and spent most of his life as a criminal. In 1812, he founded Surete Nationale crime detection agency. He remained the director till 1827. He is looked upon as the father of Modern Criminology. His is a story that has inspired writers such as Charles Dickens and Victor Hugo.

His Life

Having been born in a wealthy large family, Francois became a criminal during his youthful years. He would steal and sell silver plates belonging to his parents from a tender age of 13. He would then spend every dime he made from the selling within a day. At some point, his father decided to teach him a lesson by having him jailed. Vidocq later joined the army in 1791 and created a reputation of being an expert swordsman. He however, seemed more guided by his shady instincts. He would get into trouble for dueling often and was a womanizer too. Later, he got into trouble for desertion. He left the army and later got into fraud and theft. In 1796, he was sentenced to hard labor as a result of forgery. He escaped in 1800.

His Redemption and Ending

Vidocq witnessed a man’s execution and this started his journey to redemption. The man had been a criminal too and this deeply affected Vidocq. He relocated and started to live an honest life as a merchant. People from his past however would emerge and blackmail him for money. He served as a police informant and was appointed as a Parisian jail spy in 1809. His duty was to report fellow inmates. After his release from prison duty, he continued working for the police unit and entered into the criminal underworld to get the information he needed.

He became a criminology master in 1811, a ballistic expert and record keeper who was very strict. Vidocq was a master of disguises usually dressing up as a beggar to enter into the underworld with ease. He is the same man who organized the plain clothes police force later to be converted into the security police unit. Vidocq gained a high reputation in the field of criminology. He later returned to crime and damaged his reputation and his business suffered in the process. He withdrew and went to live a private life thereafter. Eugene Francois Vidocq died in 1857 at the age of 82 in Paris. His wife had died years earlier.  The two had no children.

Indonesia Private Investigation Agency (IPIA) and our sister agency Bali Eye Private Investigation Agency (BEPIA) are fully registered agencies offering investigation services to the private and business sectors throughout Indonesia and South East Asia.

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