Austin Monthly July 2015 Article on Austin Spy Shop <----------Click here for orignial article (thank you Austin Monthly!)
Suspect nefarious activities are going on in your life? Consider paying a visit to Austin Spy Shop. This mom-and-pop store sells audio recording devices, GPS trackers, hidden cameras and other tools that can help the average person solve a wide range of personal problems, from theft to home invasion. Kiva McDonald and former Austin Police Department undercover officer Lyndon Lueders opened the venture in January 2014 after working together on private investigations for four years. They find their shop fills a legitimate need in Austin. “Our primary focus is on preventing the bad guys,” Lueders says. “If someone’s stealing from you or something terrible is happening, you want to be able to talk to someone who understands what you may need to stop it and keep it from happening again.” Business is booming—so much so that the co-owners are opening two stores this summer in La Grange and Killeen and developing their own product line featuring a full HD camera system for homes and businesses with remote feeds on smart phones. They’ve also teamed up with local artists to create faux pieces that blend into home decor. Taking matters into your own hands has never been so satisfying.
Sometimes it’s best to leave the snooping to the professionals. Real-life private investigator Carol Robbins operates her 3-year-old company, Peace Investigations, out of Austin Spy Shop. She chats with us about the ethics of the job and the thrill of the chase.
What investigations are mostcommon for you?
We get a lot of infidelity and child custody cases and a lot of cellphone forensics, like when somebody wants to know if there’s spyware on their phone. We also do adoption cases, locate birth parents and make background checks for employers. Parents sometimes want to do a background check on their daughter’s new boyfriend from college, but we’re pretty picky. I won’t run a background check for anybody who walks through the door.
Is there a big demand for PIs?
When I decided to open my company, I went to one of the established PIs in town and asked him if there was enough business in Austin. His exact words were: “There is plenty of business to go around, and there are a lot of investigators, but there are about a dozen that are ethical.” That last statement was what made me decide I can do this. If it’s even close to the line of being gray and illegal, we’re not doing it.
What kinds of “gray and illegal” things do people ask you to do?
It’s stuff that they see on TV, like break into someone’s house and put in cameras and listening devices to spy on people. There are so many felonies related with that. They get away with it on TV because it’s TV.
You teach classes for budding PIs. Tell us more about that.
Our three-hour mini classes give people a chance to see if being a private investigator is something that they’re interested in. I mean, it’s not all fun and games. I’ve been up many times in the middle of the night, digging through someone’s garbage, wondering what I’m going to find—or who’s going to find me. But there’s other times when it’s totally awesome. There’s nothing better than when you get the money shot or when you find that item in the garbage. It’s indescribable.
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