PLE Group fully recognizes the critical issue of liability in today’s business world. With increasing frequency, companies and government agencies are using professionally trained undercover agents to detect illegal activities (drug trafficking, drug abuse, theft of inventory or equipment, sabotage to equipment, or product tampering) and company policy violations (alcohol abuse, time theft, sexual harassment). Additionally, undercover agents are used to evaluate hiring practices, training, or management at corporate facilities.
Just as the incidence of illegal activities and company policy violations have risen, so too have the number of companies offering their services to address these issues. As you investigate these companies, consider the following benefits of PLE Group:
- Since 1981, PLE Group has been providing experienced agents to corporate America and government agencies, resulting in a high degree of success in undercover operations.
- PLE Group works closely with the appropriate local or state law enforcement agency while on assignment.
- PLE Group provides weekly reporting to company management, and when necessary, to the appropriate law enforcement agency, including:
- Agent Daily Activity Reports
- Statement of Witness Reports on Criminal Activity and Company Policy Violations
- Chain of Custody Reports for Evidence
- The above reporting enhances testimony in court, arbitration and unemployment hearings.
- Most agents hold a Criminal Justice Degree, have military police experience, or are certified police officers.
- PLE Group agents must pass a comprehensive background investigation and drug testing prior to receiving their offer of employment.
- In order to enhance an agent’s credibility in court testimony and arbitration hearings, PLE Group agents are drug tested before, during and after each assignment, and if desired by the client, are given a polygraph examination after each assignment.
All PLE Group agents receive a minimum of 150 hours of specialized undercover training. This training covers in detail the following areas:
- Court Testimony
- Drug Identification
- Report Writing
- Corporate Offense Recognition
- Evidentiary Chain of Custody
- Undercover Strategy
PLE Group has conducted over 1400 undercover investigations for law enforcement agencies and corporations throughout the United States.
As an independent source of information for company management, PLE Group undercover agents expose drug trafficking/abuse, internal theft, company policy violations, sexual harassment, product tampering, and equipment sabotage. PLE agents standardized reporting technique results in objective and reliable information.
Evaluation of Your Needs
A successful undercover investigation begins with a thorough evaluation of your company’s issues and concerns. Because PLE Group recognizes that all situations are unique, we are dedicated to understanding the affected business unit’s culture, operations and management. Such understanding allows us to tailor our services to ensure we meet your needs. Recognizing that confidentiality is of the utmost importance, we take every precaution to maintain the integrity of each undercover investigation.
Undercover Operations Services
Our goal is to reduce your exposure to liability that may result from improper employee activities, such as the following:
- Drug Abuse
- Alcohol Abuse
- Drug Trafficking
- Internal Theft
- Product Tampering
- Sexual Harassment
- Violation of Company Policy
PLE Group will provide your company with Daily Activity Reports and Statement of Witness Reports to ensure that management remains current regarding the progress of the investigation. All reports are available for review through our secure file server.
Method of Conducting Investigations
The undercover investigative process involves establishing fictitious backgrounds in order to gain the confidence of possible suspects for the purpose of gathering evidence of illegal or prohibited activities. A successful investigation requires extensive planning and attention to detail before, during, and after the investigation. An undercover investigation is comprised of eight basic steps:
- Development of a cover story– This includes creating: a plausible work history that will make the agent an ideal candidate for the job; a rationale for the agent’s relocating to the assigned geographical area; and an appropriate past work history, college, and or other experience. The success or failure of an undercover investigation hinges upon the development of a plausible cover story.
- Agent relocation– PLE Group establishes an agent’s residence near the facility where he or she will be working. This process may also include registration of the agent’s vehicle and transfer of the agent’s driver’s license to the appropriate state.
- Agent interview– The agent must prepare for the job that he or she will be working by gaining knowledge of the responsibilities and performance expectations of that job. A copy of the client’s employment application, pre-employment test or interview questions helps the agent prepare for the interview.
- Agent employment – Once employed by the company, the agent immediately begins investigative work by becoming acquainted with company employees and making other related contacts.
- Agent reports– Throughout the agent’s term of employment with the company, he or she will provide regular and accurate reporting to PLE Group. After review, PLE Group will forward all reports regarding the progress of the investigation to company management.
- Communication– PLE Group management will regularly meet with the agent to discuss investigative strategy. When necessary, PLE Group will also meet with the law enforcement contact and company management to inform each of the progress or results of the investigation.
- Shutdown– Once the company is satisfied with the results of the investigation; company management will give PLE Group ten days advance notice to conclude the investigation. At this time PLE Group, the company, and law enforcement representatives will discuss procedures to remove the agent from employment at the company and coordinate any possible arrests.
- Agent summary– After the agent has been removed; he or she will provide a full written summary of the investigation. The agent will also be available to testify at employment hearings, arbitrations, or court proceedings.
Content, Presentation, and Receipt of Reports
PLE agents are required to provide accurate, concise, comprehensive, objective, clear, and coherent reports to the company. Detailed and consistent reporting ensures that agents maintain credibility and can account for their testimony in legal proceedings. PLE Group agents provide reports in two forms:
- Daily Activity Report (DAR) – This report provides all relevant information regarding the agent’s activities during each workday. The agent will attempt to include such information as: dates and times the agent arrives and leaves work; location of work; activities and duties performed at work; work breaks; names of key people with whom the agent comes in contact; dates, times, and nature of phone conversations; dates, times, and nature of all contact with PLE Group supervisors and corporate and law enforcement agency contacts; useful physical descriptions of possible suspects; times and locations of all meetings; and dates and times spent recording information for the Daily Activity Report.
- Statement of Witness Report (SOR) – This narrative summary is based on facts contained in the Daily Activity Reports that contribute to the detection of company policy violations or criminal activity. PLE Group provides company management with reporting– including Daily Activity Reports, Statement of Witness Reports, and other documentation the company may require– that will outline company policy violations and chain of custody of evidence.
Time Frame for Results
During professional undercover investigations, establishing trust and a close association with employees within the company takes time. While every investigation is unique, a thorough investigation usually requires at least 90 days to realize any results, with a multitude of factors determining the time frame.
Most importantly, the agent is simultaneously performing a job, meeting job and investigative standards, and acclimating to a new work environment, new co-workers and, most likely, a new city. The agent must become familiar with the personalities of co-workers and carefully gain the trust and friendship of employees and associates.
Additional factors-such as the length of the probationary period, the agent’s specific position within the company, and employment gained through a temporary agency versus direct employment by the company-also play a role in determining the time required for a successful investigation. Other considerations include the agent’s status as a full time or part time employee, the shift to which the agent is assigned, the mobility of the agent’s job, and any restraints placed on us by law enforcement.
It is important to remember that undercover work is as much an art as it is a science. Many external factors, beyond the control of either PLE Group or the company, can influence the success of an investigation. However, through careful, professional planning and years of experience, most challenges can be anticipated and addressed before they negatively affect the investigation.
Each agent is billed at a fixed monthly expense per month plus all out of pocket expenses, to include, but not limited to the below listed items. If two or more agents are used at the same location, the service fee for each additional agent(s) is reduced by 25% per month.
Other Costs: Each monthly invoice will include the above mentioned management fee, plus all out of pocket expenses, including:
- The difference in the hourly wage the agent earns while working in the undercover position and the minimum guaranteed hourly wage PLE Group commits to paying the agent.
- Expenses associated with moving the agent to and from the assignment location and monthly rent expense.
- Operational money to purchase drugs and other contraband.
- Travel and lodging expenses to set up the investigation.
- Travel and lodging expense associated with regular PLE Group supervisory visits with the agent (approximately one visit per two-four weeks).
Advantages of Client Company Involvement
In order to maximize the agent’s effectiveness, the company can play a critical role by helping to place the agent in a job on the best shift and job location, prior to the actual start of the investigation. The ideal job should allow the agent the ability to move around the premises and meet as many people as possible. The company can also assist PLE management in matching the best available undercover agent with the investigative task by providing background information, such as work force demographics, type of problems confronting the company, and information obtained during any previous undercover investigations.
Establishing a good working relationship with the appropriate law enforcement agency also plays a crucial role in every successful undercover investigation, especially when the goal involves detection of illegal activity. The company performs a critical function in assisting with this process. Some law enforcement agencies resist working with a private investigative company due to the law enforcement agency’s lack of available personnel or budgeted overtime. If the client company assists us with establishing law enforcement contacts, law enforcement contacts are typically more willing to work with us because they recognize that they are directly assisting a member of their community. In addition, the company may have a better knowledge of the local law enforcement officials and may have already established a sound relationship.
Once such a relationship has been established, the law enforcement agency’s dedicated contact will take all evidence from our agent and process it according to the agency’s current operating procedures. Additionally, the law enforcement contact will typically back up the agent if the agent purchases contraband outside of the company’s facility. PLE Group always works within the guidelines established by the local law enforcement agency and our client company.
The Client can assist in the success of an investigation in other ways as well. A personnel roster of employees with whom the agent will be working and who are on the agent’s shift is helpful in correctly identifying employees and, when necessary, the proper spellings of their names. Knowledge of establishments frequented by employees helps the agent establish and develop contact(s). Any corporate policy handbooks and blueprints of applicable buildings involved under the scope of the investigation are also useful information for the agent. All of these factors help the agent become familiar with the company, its employees, and the area(s) in which he or she will be working.
Advantages of Conducting an Undercover Investigation
The advantages of conducting an undercover investigation are many. Most importantly, you are decreasing your exposure to unnecessary liability caused by the possible illegal activities taking place within your facility. At the same time, you can increase productivity by effectively dealing with employees who are committing illegal acts or violating company policy. Reducing the number and frequency of illegal activities and company policy violations may also result in reduction in turnover, employee training costs, workers’ compensation costs, health care costs, and employee thefts. Finally, your company is also providing a safer working environment for those employees you wish to retain.
PLE Group Considerations
A wide variety of considerations help to determine the appropriate methods for carrying out an undercover investigation. In conjunction with the client, PLE Group must select the most appropriate agent for the job, one who is compatible with the existing company work force and culture. Criteria for agent selection include demographic factors of the work force, such as age range, ratio of men to women, and race and ethnic composition. The agent must also understand the company’s structure regarding daily functions and operating procedures. In addition, company culture, employee interaction, and any union membership requirements provide very important information for optimally placing an agent in the work force. All of these factors and more must all be taken into account before determining which agent is best suited for the job, and which approach is best for conducting the investigation.