The First Private Detective Agency in History was Created by a Former Criminal

First Private Investigation Agency

The world’s first private detective agency was opened by a criminal-turned-detective, the famous Eugene Vidocq (1755-1857).

Before upholding the law, he had violated it more than once. Vidocq accidentally killed a fencing instructor and went into hiding for a long time before joining the army, where he received numerous disciplinary sanctions.

“Only a criminal can overcome a crime”

Later, he joined privateers (it is a privately owned and commissioned armed ship used in war, authorized to capture enemy merchant ships and robbed English ships), and was imprisoned for beating his lover’s suitor. In 1811, he joined the Parisian police and formed a team of former prisoners – the Brigade de Sûreté (“Security Brigade”), leading it for almost 20 years he converted it to a state security police force in 1811(Sûreté Nationale). His main principle was “Only a criminal can overcome a crime“.

After retiring, he founded the first private detective agency in history. In the year 1833, Vidocq established an organization called “Le bureau des renseignements” (“Office of Information”), which can be described as a blend of a detective agency and a private police force. This pioneering venture is widely recognized as the earliest known detective agency. It is worth noting that Vidocq primarily recruited individuals with prior criminal records for his workforce.

Initially, his team comprised of eleven detectives, two clerks, and one secretary. Their primary objective was to assist entrepreneurs and ordinary individuals by confronting and countering various wrongdoers such as swindlers, fraudsters, and individuals involved in fraudulent bankruptcy cases.

Vidocq is recognized for his significant contributions to the field of criminal investigation, including the introduction of record-keeping, criminology, and ballistics techniques. Additionally, he demonstrated his ingenuity by establishing a printing company that produced indelible ink and unalterable bond paper.

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