About

 

30 Years In The Trenches

A second generation bodyguard and bounty hunter, Zeke Unger is an Israeli-American veteran in the dual worlds of protecting the good guys and catching the bad guys, with over 30 years of experience and over 4000 arrests to his credit, and a roster of protection clients from the upper echelons of Hollywood as as well as Fortune 500 companies.

Currently, Unger is actively involved as a liason, with law enforcement agencies foused on high-priority, cross-boarder fugitive cases.

An Unparalled Reputation

A member of the national Association of Bail Enforcement Agents and the U.S. Professional Bail Bond Investigators, Unger has earned an unparalled reputation in the field of fugitive apprehension and personal protection, and has frequently worked alongside agents from the FBI and the U.S. Marshals, as well as assisting both agencies in tracking and apprehension techniques. He has additionally instructed special operations teams across the country, and continues to be in demand as one of the leading experts in his field.

Expert Consultant

In addition Unger has a lengthy track record with the broadcast media and serves as an expert consultant for CNN on fugitive and security matters, featured at length in the aftermath of the Andrew Luster Case. He has additionally appeared on BBC Radio in similar roles, and has been featured on numerous TV documentaries including Tales Of A Modern Day Bounty Hunter for the Discovery Channel and Suicide Missions, Secret Lives Of Bounty Hunters and Dangerous Jobs for The Learning Channel. He has also contributed to The Robb Report on post 9/11 security issues. Earlier he was recruited by NBC Television to organize and run an emergency protection team for company executives and network stars during the Los Angeles Riots in the aftermath of the Rodney King verdict.

Services



Conflict Resolution

When we talk about conflict resolution, we must look at the vast scope of problems we encounter as a society.
From problems related to those that wish to do us harm to problems within our own families, these matters require intervention and interdiction, which take many different forms. We must realize the sensitivity and discreet nature that one must take in dealing, successfully and confidentially, with such delicate matters.

For over 30 years, Zeke Unger, has been assisting, leading and writing the book for modern day conflict resolution. Zeke relates, that in some instances of conflict resolution, simple mediation is the answer, whereas some more serious solutions require tactical intervention.

Regardless of the means required to solve these delicate issues, success is gauged by client satisfaction. There are no shortcuts to discrete and successful problem resolution. For example, business disputes, drug and alcohol intervention, domestic violence, hostile business dissolution, workplace violence, extortion, blackmail, child custody issues and legal arbitration are but a few manifestations of what occur that require these professional and discreet solutions.

Bodyguard

Providing protective services to those in the community requiring discreet service, since 1984.
Ungers career clientele has has ranged from Hollywoods "A" list celebrities through the ranks of Fortune 500 excecutives. Zeke's unique style of problem resolution, is a product of extensive training with Israeli experts in paramilitary training and conflict resolution tactics.
Zekes underlying theory on threat assessment is to protect his clientele while eliminating the threat through investigation, counter-surveillance and strategic alliances with local and federal law enforcement agencies.
Theories, such as target-hardening and threat isolation, when put into practice have been successfully proven in cases of kidnapping, extortion, murder-for-hire, criminal and terrorist threats.
Unger has earned an unparalled reputation in the field of executive protection, and has frequently worked alongside agents from the FBI and the U.S. Marshals, regarding security and protective service matters, as well as to train their agents in tracking and apprehension techniques. He has additionally instructed special operations teams across the country, and continues to be in demand as one of the leading experts in his field.

Bail Bonds

A licensed bail bonds agent in the state of California for over 20 years.
Providing fair and ethical services locally, in the greater Los Angeles area, Zeke is an member in good standing of the Bail USA Network, the California Bail Agents Association and the PBUS on a national level He is frequently asked to speak, by various organizations, on matters related to bail bonds that require a more indepth and hands on experienced view point. Such as his assistance in drafting current legislature for the bail bond industry.

K-9 Detection Services

First and foremost, our services are offered with complete discretion and confidentiality.
Detection dogs are a cost effective way to ensure security. Hire top K9 teams for security at your event or venue: Coast to Coast K9 Teams will send you highly trained K9 handlers teamed up with skilled detection dogs.

Our contract working dog teams are the most comprehensive K9 security option available, providing effective deterrence for threatening or unlawful activities and substances, including explosives, drugs/narcotics and weapons.

Video Surveillance

Video surveillance systems are passive and can record endlessly. Archiving events until needed.
If the need exist – all movement can be tracked and recorded in a real time manner. Displays, audible devices local and remote monitoring and custom designed graphics can provide real time information of all movement of people as well as assets.

Proximity sensors can even track real time movement within a protected zone or building .Todays technology allows us to create a system that is simple to use and will be tailored to exactly a clients specific and personal needs – ask us!

Bounty Hunter

A second-generation, Israeli-American, bodyguard and bounty hunter
Zeke Unger is veteran in the dual worlds of protecting the good guys and catching the bad guys, with over 25 years of experience and over 4000 arrests to his credit.
A member of the national Association of Bail Enforcement Agents and the U.S. Professional Bail Bond Investigators, Unger has earned an unparalled reputation in the field of fugitive apprehension, and has frequently worked alongside agents from the FBI and the U.S. Marshals, as well as being employed by both agencies to train their agents in tracking and apprehension techniques. He has additionally instructed special operations teams across the country, and continues to be in demand as one of the leading experts in his field.

Investigations are one of the most uniquely complex and intergral facets of problem solving.
The spectrum of problems that require resolution is broad, with no necessary limits. This inately requires a proven methodology. For over 2 decades, our investigations division has solved some of the most complex crimes known to law enforcement. From homicides, threat management and missing persons to domestic infidelity, asset location and kidnapping, we have the proven capabilities to assist our clients, both domestically and internationally, in the most professionally discreet fashion possible, in resolving these delicate cases to the clients satisfaction.

For those clients requiring the detection and removal of audio/visual surveillance equipment, please contact Zeke to remove any devices that may potentially allow proprietary information to be obtained by an outside source.

Recovery

As many investigations, the aspect of recovery takes on many different forms.
Assets comes in many different shapes, forms and values. From human life and loved ones to items of monetary or sentimental value. For 2 decades, Zeke has been retrieving and recovering items of value, both nationally and internationally in the most discreet manner possible.

These items include, but are not limited to, missing persons, abducted children, monetary assets, aircraft, vessels, rare vehicles, equine, rare gems and hijacked shipments. If you have experienced a loss and would like to regain positive control of your assets, call Zeke to discuss recovery operation options.

As all investigations, information is COMPLETELY proprietary and confidential.

Electronic Countermeasures

Countersurveillance refers to measures undertaken to prevent surveillance, including covert surveillance.
Countersurveillance may include electronic methods such as bug sweeping, the process of detecting surveillance devices, including covert listening devices and visual surveillance devices.

More often than not, countersurveillance will employ a set of actions (countermeasures) that, when followed, reduce the risk of surveillance. Countersurveillance should not be confused with sousveillance (inverse surveillance) as the latter does not necessarily aim to prevent or reduce surveillance.

Threat Detection

One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed.
The bedding was hardly able to cover it and seemed ready to slide off any moment. His many legs, pitifully thin compared with the size of the rest of him, waved about helplessly as he looked. "What's happened to me?"

Watch Video

Inmate manhunt intensifies : Zeke Unger - Expert Consultant - MSNBC







Bona Fides







Articles

Heather Dubrow Hires Bounty Hunter Lil’ Zeke Unger.

"Heather begins, adding, that they’re so eager to locate the woman that they’ve hired bounty hunter Lil’ Zeke Unger. Trying to get someone from another country and finding out where people are is a very interesting proposition”

erin@rumorfix.com

Rumor Fix

Bounty Hunters Are Stalking a New Image.

"In the old days, bounty hunters were outlaws ... who had decided it was more lucrative to chase bad guys than it was to rob banks," Zeke Unger, a veteran bounty hunter, said from his office at World Executive Protection..."

STEVE BERRY

Los Angeles Times

Discussion About Protecting Celebrities on Trial

With me now to discuss who is responsible for protecting celebrities on trial, CNN legal correspondent Jeffrey Toobin, nd in Los Angeles this morning, personal protection agent Zeke Unger.

PAULA ZAHN

CNN







CNN

 

INSIGHT Aired June 25, 2003 - 17:00:00 ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JONATHAN MANN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hunting for bad guys with a gun but no badge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We consider ourselves the garbage men of the universe.

MANN: The United States still allows bounty hunters to pursue criminals for profit. The result: some serious mayhem but a lot of men back behind bars.

(END VIDEO CLIP)


MANN: Hello and welcome. Right now, a particularly infamous serial rapist is serving a 124 year sentence in California, but until earlier this month, Andrew Luster was a free man, having posted bail and then run off to Mexico.

Luster's case attracted a lot of attention because he's heir to a multimillion dollar fortune from Max Factor women's cosmetics and because he was found by a bounty hunter.

Bounty hunters are particularly American breed that lives where the cultures of cowboys, criminals and cops overlap. Some of them are quiet, careful private detectives. Others are loud and proud, a little less careful and a lot more violent. On our program today: bounty hunters.

We begin with CNN's John Vause.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)


JOHN VAUSE CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They're heavily armed, pump-action shot guns, handguns and cuffs. All men wearing bulletproof vests, dressed in black, identified only as special agent.

But their not law enforcement. Their modern-day bounty hunters and they're chasing a skip, a fugitive called Claudio, wanted on drug charges, who jumped bail and may be hiding with relatives in South Central Los Angeles.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bail enforcement. Open the door.

VAUSE: By law, they have the right to enter and search this house.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on out. Any kids in there? Any kids in there? Bambinos? Ninos?

VAUSE: Even if that law is 130 years old, it stands from a Supreme Court decision in 1873, which gives bounty hunters the authority to break and enter into homes of bail jumpers, even chase them across state lines -- in some respects, powers greater than local police.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We consider ourselves the garbage men of the universe, the job that nobody really wants to do. We go around and we collect very dangerous people and we take them into custody and get them out of society at no cost to the taxpayer.

VAUSE: Zeke Unger (ph) has been a bounty hunter for more than 20 years. He leads a team called the World Fugitive Apprehension Group. (on camera): When you tell people you're a bounty hunter, how do they normally react?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very puzzled. Sometimes amazed. They sometimes don't understand what we do or how we do it or how we have the right to do it.
Bounty hunting is nothing new. I'm sure everyone's seen bounty hunters riding horseback in the old West. It's a little bit different now.

VAUSE: So are you guys cowboys?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think maybe we are modern-day cowboys. It's the pace of the chase and not the thrill of the kill. Finding these people can be very difficult, very timely. But the reward is when we come back with a body.

VAUSE (voice-over): On this night, the body got away. So did the reward -- $3,500, or 10 percent of the bail.

(on camera):

Here's how the system works. When a defendant is granting bail, often a family member of a friend will use a bail bond company like these, and they demand a payment, usually at least 10 percent of the bail.

When the defendant turns up for court, the bail bond company will keep that 10 percent. But if the defendant skips or runs, then the company is liable for the full amount.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we put up $50,000 worth of bail, they take off, we don't catch them, we write a check to the clerk for $50,000.

VAUSE (voice-over): Fred Herbert (ph) has been writing bail for 30 years in Los Angeles. There was a time when he would chase the skips, but these days he hires others to do the work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We normally pay them 10 percent of the amount of the bail in state or maybe 15 percent of the bail out of state, if they go after a skip for us. We just sent our bounty hunter to Nebraska to pick up a gal, so we paid him 15 percent of the amount of the bail, which was $50,000, so that was a pretty good encouragement -- $7,500 for him to go to Nebraska and pick her up.

VAUSE: But sometimes it can go terribly wrong. Duane "Dog" Chapman chased convicted rapist Andrew Luster all the way to Mexico. The heir to the Max Factor fortune had been on the run for six months. Chapman caught the rapist, but there was one very big problem: bounty hunting is illegal in Mexico and the bounty hunter found himself on the wrong side of the law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think his actions are just beyond the bounds that I can condone. He's out there apprehending on his own, certainly that's not something we endorse in the FBI, a fugitive, in another country, to boot.

VAUSE: And authorities say there are many cases where bounty hunters have crossed the line. June last year, Kansas City, a man was strangled by a bounty hunter who was looking for the victims brother. A jury later convicted the bounty hunter of involuntary manslaughter. Richmond, Virginian, a bounty hunter was charged with second degree murder after he allegedly went to the wrong house and shot and killed a man on Christmas Eve.
But the biggest outcry came in 1997, when a young couple was shot and killed by two men who broke into their Arizona house claiming to be bounty hunters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bounty hunters was really a ruse to try to keep them out of trouble if something went wrong. They were really going in there for other unlawful activity.

VAUSE: Across the United States, there are no uniform laws for bounty hunters, banned in some states, unregulated in others. Los Angeles civil rights lawyer Steven Yagman (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you've got people who haven't been trained in law enforcement, who don't really know the law, and who haven't been screened psychologically or for judgment, who are out doing the same thing as law enforcement officers, with the power of life or death and the power to do things that otherwise would be kidnapping.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to remember that the people we are going after are already fugitives. It's not that we're making a determination if they're good people or bad people.

VAUSE: Ron Robbins (ph) prefers to be called a bail recovery agent. A private investigator as well, he's critical of what he calls Rambo-like tactics of some of his colleagues.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They think it's instant money because some guy just mad $30,000 or $40,000 or $100,000. There's just a lot more to it. There's a lot less physical stuff than there is mental and picking up the telephone is the best tool that anyone can have.

VAUSE: As for the protection afforded by the 1873 ruling, he says it's not as clear cut as it seems.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the old Supreme Court rule that everyone always based all their work on. You know, if you crossed state lines and break open the people's door, even on a Sunday, and drag them back to jail. You know, it always sounds nice and neat until you get sued by someone for, you know, trying some of those kinds of things.

VAUSE: But in Los Angeles alone, there are more than 17,000 fugitives on the run and many are caught by bounty hunters every year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that law enforcement needs to be brought up to snuff so that it performs that function and that bounty hunters ought to be done away with. However, until that happens, perhaps it's beneficial to keep bounty hunters in place, because otherwise insurance companies wouldn't write bonds and people wouldn't be able to get out on bail.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One child coming out. Another child coming out.

VAUSE: Back at South Central, Unger (ph) and his men say they'll keep hunting Claudio, keep searching his house, pressure his family and friends, and hope that ultimately they'll turn him on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pressure makes diamonds.

VAUSE: The system, they say, may not be perfect, but for more than 100 years, they insist, the system has produced results.

(END VIDEOTAPE)


MANN: John Vause joins us now from Los Angeles to talk more about the hunters he has come to know. John, it just seems like a whole other world to me. What kind of world is it? What's it like to be with these guys?

VAUSE: Jon, it really is a world which has survived since the Wild West days of American history, and there still are the bounty hunters out there, like Zeke Unger (ph) and his team of men who knock them down and drag them back to jail, and it's a world which is being glamorized in films, like "The Wild Bunch," and "Midnight Run," even in the movie "Star Wars."

But a lot of other bounty hunters, who actually don't like the term bounty hunters -- they prefer bail recovery agent or even the grand title of felon recovery agent -- and they say it's really fairly tedious work. They work long hours. They often sit for days at a time in a car outside a bail jumpers house, waiting for that person to show up.

So there's a couple of worlds out there. And in many ways, the governments, the state governments, across the United States, are trying to regulate it so that they can bring the knock them down and drag them back guys a little bit more under control.

MANN: I'm just curious about numbers. There are obviously criminals in every city and community in this country. There are jails and bondsmen in most cities. Are there a lot of these people running around with guns in cars trying to catch the bad guys?

VAUSE: Well, the numbers are actually quite difficult to work out. The experts in the industry will tell you, there's only really a couple of hundred men out there, and a few women, who earn their women by bringing fugitives back in.

Zeke Unger (ph), for example, claims to have brought in as many as 2,000 fugitives in his time as a bounty hunter, but this is where it gets difficult, because across the United States, virtually anybody can sit in a bar and say, "I'm a bounty hunter," because it's just not regulated in most states.
In fact, in some states it takes more hours of training to become a hairdresser or a nail manicurist than it does to become a bounty hunter.

MANN: They carry guns. They can break into buildings. These are the kinds of things that criminals do, yet these people are said to be on the right side of the law. What kind of relationship do they have with others who are enforcing the law? With the police and with the courts, for example?

VAUSE: It's very difficult to work out what the police think of bounty hunters. We contacted the LAPD. We contacted the L.A. Sheriff's Department, the Ventura County Sheriff's Department, which is where the Andrew Luster case is from. We also contacted the FBI. And virtually, they all had no comment. They didn't want to be involved in this story, and what they were saying is that basically that bounty hunters are out there, they don't want to know them.

But I have a suspicion -- and dealing with the police on the streets when we were doing these stories, that a lot of the police are actually quite happy to have the bounty hunters out there, because with budget cuts and manpower, a lot of local police departments no loner have dedicated units which track down felons who have either jumped bail or are wanted out there. So, in many ways these bounty hunters are doing a job that the police just simply can't, and in many ways, when the police do catch a bail jumper, it's by pure chance. They might stop him at a traffic stop, for example, run a check on his name, find out that he's a bail jumper and take him in. There are no dedicated officers to bring bail jumpers back in and put them before the courts.

MANN: And there aren't, I imagine, enough places in jails for all the people who are arrested, so if you do the math, there's not enough room in the jail for them, they've got to be -- or a lot of them have go to be considered candidates for bail -- I guess nobody would actually be bailing anyone out if they didn't have some prospect of getting the money back.

VAUSE: Well, there's also that point, but also the point that Steve Yagman (ph), the civil rights attorney that we spoke with -- he made a very good point. He said if this system wasn't in place, the insurance companies would be very reluctant to write bail. If they didn't know they had these bounty hunters out there who would go after bail jumpers and try to get their money back, this underwriting of bail bonds, which is a multimillion dollar industry in the United States, if the insurance companies didn't have that guarantee, then they would be very reluctant to write bail for anybody, and so bail would just not be available.

MANN: John Vause, fascinating story. Thanks very much. We take a break. When we come back, more on the case that brought bounty hunting back into the spotlight. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)


DUANE "DOG" CHAPMAN, BOUNTY HUNTER: I think that I'm probably the last true bounty hunter in the country today. I know that I hold the record, more captures than any law enforcement or/and bounty hunter in the world today. And I'm very proud of that.

MANN: Duane "Dog" Chapman boasts he's the very best. He also acknowledges being arrested 18 times for robbery in his younger days and having done time in jail.

Chapman is the man who found and captured the millionaire rapist who fled to Mexico, Andrew Luster. But as we've been reporting, because Mexico doesn't recognize bounty hunters, it considered the capture a kidnapping, and Chapman found himself behind bars, along with some associates and an American TV crew that went along.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, they are heroes. I mean, you know, they took a rapist off the street, and to me that's a big deal. I mean, this man is a serial rapist, and he stalks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)


MANN: Welcome back. Clearly, Mexico doesn't love American bounty hunters. In the United States, though, they have a more mixed reputation, both for unnecessary violence on one hand and for doing a job the justice system could not survive without on the other.
Joining us now to talk about the work that they do is Thomas Nixon, president of the National Association of Bail Recovery Agents and we should note a man who brought more than 300 men and women to justice.
Thanks so much for being with us.
One of my colleagues said that as you were watching the pictures of Duane Chapman and some of the other people, you were squirming in your seat. Are you uncomfortable with the image that bounty hunters have gotten, of big men with big guns, because of Duane Chapman?

THOMAS NIXON, NATION. ASSOC. OF BAIL RECOVERY AGENTS: I would say there's definitely a negative image that has been reported about recovery agents. Recovery agents have done a wonderful job with taking criminals off of the street, and we shouldn't be judged by one individual.

MANN: OK, fair enough. Let me ask you about your experience, because you've done this kind of work. What's a typical case like?

NIXON: 97 percent boredom, 3 percent fear, basically. A lot of times, you're sitting out on a location, waiting for someone to come home, waiting for someone to come to work, things of that nature. But if it's done correctly, everyone goes home and no one gets hurt.

MANN: In your own career, is there any one case that seems particularly memorable, particularly rewarding for you?

NIXON: You know, child molesters are big on my ticket, you know, but everyone is innocent until proven guilty. These people have not been found guilty yet in most cases. They've fled prior to being actually convicted. So, you know, at the same time, you have to take into consideration that this person is still innocent until proven guilty.

MANN: Now, I'm curious about how you actually find these people. One of the things that we read in our research is that, for example, Mother's Day is an excellent time to go looking for people because they're all predictably going to go try and visit their mothers. Can you tell us about the tricks of the trade? Is it technology? Is it strategy? Or is it just dogged waiting around that finally finds these people for you?

NIXON: Well, we are creatures of habit. Things that we do, you know, on a daily basis, we normally continue to do, even if it's in a different state. What you normally do, you're going to continue. Holidays are important to everyone. Mother's Day is a very important holiday to most men, and most women, so holidays are very important -- Christmas, things of that nature.

MANN: I did get a sense, though, in the research that we've done and also in the reporting that our correspondent has done, that really, there is almost a schizophrenia in the industry between people like yourself, who are quiet, articulate people, and others like Duane Chapman, who likes to wear black leather and really pose as a big-time man hunter. How many people are there like that out there? How many characters does the industry attract?

NIXON: Well, unfortunately, over the years you've had people that have gotten into the business that have tarnished reputations and get into the business basically for the image that it portrays, but for the most -- for the successful person that's in this business, you know, we don't go around telling people that bail enforcement is something that we do. The only time you find out is if I unfortunately have to come to your home.

MANN: It's not just an image problem, though. I get a sense that the business really is in trouble. There are examples like the ones John Vause mentioned, the example, I guess it was in the last two weeks, of a recovery agent or a bounty hunter, if you want to call him that, in Kansas City, who was convicted of involuntary second degree manslaughter.

There are states that are making the practice of bail recovery or of bounty hunting illegal. There are petitions circulating, calling for much stronger regulation of the industry, demanding that all bounty hunters, for example, have warrants before they can go into people's homes, that they have insurance for the damage that they do, and that they have to be licensed, and that they can't get those licenses if, for example, they are convicted felons.

It seems like there is a lot of pressure on the industry right now to clean up its act.

NIXON: The pressure is a good thing. I mean, regulation is always good. I'm not against regulation in any way. States that make bail recovery illegal, I wouldn't want to live in that state, because basically it's going to be a safe haven for criminals to basically setup shop. So, I'm not -- I am a big advocate for regulation.

MANN: What about the privilege which bounty hunters have which even police don't have, of bursting into someone's home. Cops need a warrant to do that. Bounty hunters just need a shoe (ph), really.

NIXON: Well, I'm able to look at it from both sides. I'm also a licensed bail bondsman in the state of Virginia. Being a bail bondsman, basically I'm on the hook for whatever that bond amount is, so for an individual to have to have a warrant to apprehend someone, you know, basically, all the person has to do is give false information and, you know, if the address isn't on the warrant, then the officer doesn't have the authority. Whereas a bail recovery agent, as long as that person, if he makes visual confirmation on that person, he's 100 percent sure that that's the subject, then he can take that person into custody without the need of a warrant.

MANN: I guess the strongest thing you can say about the system is that it works, so let me ask you, does it? How many people end up skipping out on bail? And how many do bail recovery agents or bounty hunters end up finding?

NIXON: Well, the numbers vary. I mean, I would say 70 percent of everyone that is arrested is eligible for bond. I mean, they're getting a bond from the magistrate or the judge, so.

MANN: So we're talking hundreds of thousands of people a year, potentially, who are going to bail bondsmen.

NIXON: That's correct.

MANN: OK. Go ahead.

NIXON: And if it weren't for the bail bondsmen, you'd have prison overcrowding, and who takes care of that but the taxpayer.

MANN: But of those hundreds of thousands of people who have money on the line to make sure that they show up for their court dates, how many actually don't show up? How many end up, for one reason or another, coming across the desk of people like you?

NIXON: You may have about 30 percent.

MANN: 30 percent?

NIXON: 30 percent. Some of them, you know, honestly, forgot to go to court. You know, it's -- the time lapsed. Maybe, you know, their court case wasn't set for 30 to 60 days and the person honestly forgot to go to court, and they're willing to turn themselves in and get themselves together, basically, but these are individuals.

MANN: Some are, some aren't. Guys like you go after them. How many do you actually catch? That's what it comes down to. How many do bounty hunters actually catch of the people who go missing or miss the date?

NIXON: I would say the numbers are very high. You're look at probably 85 to 90 percent of an apprehension rate with most successful individuals in this business.

MANN: Is Duane Chapman going to change this business, do you think? Is he going to attract more of the wrong kind of people, get in your way? Or will the industry be helped by the publicity, do you think?

NIXON: Actually, I think it will be helped. I think that there's going to be regulation, obviously, because of his actions. And regulation is good. And it may also deter individuals who have tarnished backgrounds from trying to get into the business, because they face, you know, being arrested themselves.

MANN: Thomas Nixon, president of the National Association of Bail Recovery Agents. Thanks so much for talking with us.

NIXON: Thank you.

MANN: A final word before we go. Duane Chapman, the bounty hunter who set us off on this story, faces four years in prison in Mexico because of the incident involving Luster.

He's stuck in Mexico, but he isn't, we should note, behind bars. He spent the equivalent of $1,400 and yes, he posted bail. Having captured thousands of people who tried to flee under similar circumstances, there's no suggestion Chapman himself will do anything other than sit tight.

That's INSIGHT for this day. I'm Jonathan Mann. The news continues.

Robb Report

 

The RobbReport.com
Feature: The Fifth Profession
Brett Anderson
Private Air Travel, January 2002

The notion of a bodyguard conjures up images of burly bouncers in ill-fitting suits and dark glasses who flank their client like a pair of enormous granite bookends. More often than not, we associate them with movie stars, professional athletes, and, at the opposite extreme, organized crime. It's an impression belied by true professionals, who will tell you that a quality "protection agent" (the preferred term) will seldom, if ever, be seen.

"True protection agents are honorable and professional and know what they're doing," explains Zeke Unger, the director of operations for World Executive Protection Group, a Southern California-based firm specializing in executive protection, investigation, and transportation. "It is the fifth oldest profession in the world, known by insiders as the fifth profession. The industry has always been plagued with charlatans. Real protection agents train every day and usually deal with only a handful of clients. There are a lot of misunderstandings about what we do. People think that we're huge guys, knuckle-draggers, bruisers, that go around beating people up. On the contrary, the climate in this country is now the three-piece-suit-wearing protection agent who is a thinker, who can multitask, who can make not only transportation arrangements, but can [also] book hotels."

For Unger, whose father provided security to Menachem Begin when he served as prime minister of Israel, his work is as much avocation as occupation. He regards himself as standing in the line of a tradition that stretches back to the time of Japan's first samurai. Being an agent, he maintains, is a state of mind, a philosophy of service. That service extends beyond bodily and privacy protection: For the past 20 years, Unger's firm has often become an extension of its clients' staffs.

In the months since the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., many high-profile and high-income individuals are taking another, closer look at the realities of personal security—especially as it relates to travel. Robb Report discusses these realities with Unger, who offers an insider's perspective on the industry, who truly needs security, and where to find the best that is available.

RR: How did your firm, World Executive Protection Group, get its start?

ZU: We started as a protection company. But, the need to transport our clients safely forced us to provide executive ground transportation, so that we could coordinate both agents and driver, and keep proprietary client information proprietary. I think that's one of the biggest problems we have in this country-nobody can keep a secret. People who are traveling on corporate jets usually have the means to afford that lifestyle. When you get into that bracket, you become susceptible to security risks.

RR: What generally prompts a client to seek a security service?

ZU: The reason people get protection is because they have some type of asset that they could lose-their lives, or those of their family or children, or a monetary one. Some people who are involved in companies that have political ties around the world have threats to them because of their political reasoning. Famous people draw people to them who may do them harm. Certain people have so many material assets that they need to secure them. We have to really see what the actual threat level is.

RR: How is an assessment conducted?

ZU: We sit with the principals and we talk about why exactly they feel the need for protection. Hopefully, they're truthful with us, because that allows us to gauge the threat. If somebody’s not being forthright, it can cause a problem. We specialize in high-risk security. I think it gives them a sense of comfort that, if they’re honest with us, we're not going to walk out the door. I was head of security for NBC's Today show during the Los Angeles riots, and there were several companies that were asked to go into South Central to bring out people who were going to be interviewed, and a lot of companies refused to do it.

RR: Do your clients typically come to you with a life-threatening risk?

ZU: Sometimes people come to us because they want to be proactive, which is, I believe, the smartest thing one can do from a security standpoint. They know that they're vulnerable, and they would like to have security before something happens. Being proactive allows us to evaluate their particular situation and gauge their needs, and then adapt security for their lifestyle. One thing you have to remember is that as protection agents, we never want to come into someone's life and change it. We may suggest that they change some things, and we hope that they listen to us, because they're hiring us, and they're paying us for it. But we have to adapt to what they do, because they ultimately are the client.

RR: What, in your opinion, has changed since September 11?

ZU: I see an increase in corporations protecting key players in their organizations-people being more cautious and possibly checking more travel advisories than normally before traveling. I see people putting in security systems and bringing in consultants.

September 11 told the American public that they can't walk around with their heads in the clouds anymore, and that they have to be more observant. I think life in America has been restructured now. We will be living our lives like people have all over the world who are subjected to terrorism on a regular basis. You cannot let it ruin your life, but you must be more aware of your surroundings. People should do what we call in the protection industry advance work-their homework-whether over the Internet or by contacting a protection company who can supply them with information on travel advisories, so that they don't find themselves traveling into a bad environment and ending up a victim.

RR: What types of dangers could our readers fall victim to?

ZU: Executives doing business down in South American countries and Mexico are vulnerable to what's called the "quick grab." That's where, within an hour or two, [the criminals] want affordable amounts of money-say, $150,000 or $200,000. This doesn't allow law enforcement to act quickly enough, and they're usually successful. Most of the time they kill the victim even after getting the ransom.

RR: How do they protect themselves?

ZU: People doing business in corporate America need to make themselves harder targets. I recommend that executives take some training, so that they understand how they can protect themselves without an agent with them at all times. Train your household help-butlers, gardeners, and maids-so that they are aware of changes-who should be around and who shouldn't be around. All it takes to deter [a threat] sometimes is a phone call.

RR: Do you screen your clients' staffs?

ZU: Extensive screening. In the protection and investigation world, everything used to be predicated on threat, and now, unfortunately, it's budget. To conduct a background check, you must be very, very thorough. Most background checks just skim the surface. These things require diligence, and diligence requires time, and time requires money.

RR: This is our Private Air Travel issue. Can you touch a little on air travel? What are the risks in the current environment, and how can those risks be minimized?

ZU: First of all, I feel that the security industry in our commercial airlines is poor. I think they are the lowest standards in the world. The people doing it, if they weren't doing security, would be flipping burgers. There's a need for the government to step up to the plate and formulate a plan. One of the role models is El Al Airlines. They have a very sophisticated security system, and it works. I just don't know if the American public is going to be ready to take hours [to board] as a way of life from now on.

However, I think that corporate aviation in this country is phenomenal. The aircraft are well-built, and logistical and security issues are more easily addressed.

RR: How do you address those issues?

ZU: Are they going into a Third World country? What are the security procedures in that country? We do a lot of travel advisories for not only jet companies, but for individuals who want to know everything, from what type of political climate they're going into to money transactions and local customs. Sometimes you can go into a country and make somebody very upset by doing something that is routine here. We research user-friendly hotels, police and emergency services, and hospitals that meet the requirements of this country. I always insist that, whenever possible, my clients donate their own blood. We pack it on ice when going into a situation where we don't know how critical the security needs are. If something happened, and the client needed blood, we would want them to have their own. Along with filling out full dossier profile sheets on our clients, all protection agents should always have information about their clients while traveling. In case there’s an emergency, all the information is obtainable in a moment's notice.

Securing the aircraft is very important. Travel advisories let pilots know how and where to secure their aircraft when they get to a particular airport. One of the largest problems we have is when a corporate jet pulls up onto the tarmac, the door opens, a limousine pulls up, and this executive gets in, not knowing if that's his car [or] who owns that car. If it was a kidnapper, he [would] already have his victim right in the vehicle. It's very important that administrators who deal with executives on corporate aircraft know who's picking them up. It's important to know if the driver of that vehicle is a felon.

RR: Is it fair to say that private air travel is safer than commercial?

ZU: Absolutely. Number one, the aircraft is rigorously maintained. [Private planes] don't have the air miles on them that commercial jets do. It provides not only security and safety, but it also allows the protection agent and the administrators to be able to determine take-off and landing times. This is very critical when visiting multiple cities in one day.

Also, on a private aircraft, information can be secured. Protection agents and administrators can make sure that the charter company has a very strict policy regarding proprietary information. You don't want information scattered around that a particular person is coming in, and the FBO (fixed base operation) needs to be notified of this when they're booking reservations. This way, the agent doesn't have to work doubly hard to protect the client once they get there. You know that there's a breach in security when you show up, and there are paparazzi with cameras everywhere.

RR: Do you have any idea how many companies out there handle clients like yours?

ZU: A lot profess to do what we do, but only a handful are really able to provide the service necessary to protect their clients properly. I know that we are the only company in the country that has its own ground transportation protection service and air charter. It allows us to do all our own coordinating and keeps everything in-house.

RR: How do you train your agents?

ZU: Unlike most companies, our agents are trained in-house. If we're going to bring an agent in, he has to go through rigorous training, not just a background check hiring process. We do not hire law enforcement or ex-law enforcement, because they are programmed to be reactive and not proactive. In our industry, if somebody is reactive, it can cause everybody great, great injury. If we have to draw our weapons, we haven't done our job properly. Ninety percent of our job is mental, logistics, and advance work. Ten percent of it is physical.

RR: How do I assess a protection service?

ZU: The way to find a good security professional is usually by word of mouth. People of means usually know people of means. The Internet and the Yellow Pages are not good ways to find someone. Once you find someone, you need to call people they've worked for. No matter how discreet a firm is, there are always people that can be contacted. Anytime a security professional says that his whole client base cannot be given out, that person is probably trying to hide something. We never give out our private clientele, unless our clients are willing to speak regarding us. But, there are always major corporations-or heads of security for major corporations-that will be glad to give some type of resume.

Never assume, always investigate. That's our motto.

RR: You have said that the desire to go into this profession comes from within. What made you decide to do this?

ZU: I was raised into the profession. I saw my father take care of prime ministers, corporate officers, and I understood the seriousness of what he did every day. He literally laid his life on the line for people who were paying him. We're modern-day samurai. We are paid a fee to make sure that people and their families and assets remain secure, even through the most difficult of times. I don't want to say that we're expendable, but I can guarantee you that I have known protection agents who have given up their lives in the line of duty. I think that it's admirable. It's a very honorable profession. There are only a few in the world who can do it well.

Brett Anderson is Robb Report's editorial director.

Unsolved Mysteries

 

Unsolved Mysteries


It was a hot August night, in the desert of California, when a woman and her 3 young children pulled to the side of the highway, because their car overheated. It was 3:30 am, in the middle of nowhere, in the high-desert of California's inter-state 40. While on the emergency call-box, a diesel truck ran over the top of her vehicle, killing her 3 year old daugher, who was in the rear seat. As Zeke watched the episode of Unsolved Mysteries, he felt compelled and obligated to respond.

California Highway Patrol detectives were at a loss. With no witnesses and very little to go on, Zeke started a massive cold-case investigation. With a small motel room in 29 Palms California as his base of operations, a massive man-hunt ensued. Within 90 days, Zeke had located the perpetrators of the crime and the vehicle used in the vehicular homicide. The driver of the big rig was convicted and the victims monetarily compensated for her tragic loss.

Los Angeles Times

 

Archive for Sunday, March 24, 2002
Low-Profile Luxury Is Theme as 1,500 Limos Head for the Oscars
By Anne-marie O'connor
March 24, 2002 in print edition B-1



Bivouacked in a Van Nuys jet hangar, the son of Menachem Begin's personal security agent is carefully choreographing the arrival of 50 actors, producers and executives to Los Angeles for the Academy Awards.

Zeke Unger's World Transportation Group will send ballistic-resistant limousines door-to-door to Oscars guests around the world. He'll charter their jets, track their flights, assign bodyguards and scrutinize security conditions in countries that may have been snubbed for membership in the Evil Axis--but they're still on his A-list.

Take the United States. "I'm not that confident with security in this country. When the World Trade towers were hit, they used our own aircraft," said Unger, who is on call to his clients 24 hours a day.

In a city where actors have been known to hang out too late, drive too fast, go home with people they barely know and run on heavy, heavy fuel--today could be the safest night of their lives.

Unger operates a worldwide, high-security version of one of the dozens of limousine services that will send as many as 1,500 luxury vehicles to the Kodak Theatre tonight.

The Oscars ceremony has created a limousine state of emergency, and so overtaxed Los Angeles' capacity that reinforcements are coming in from as far away as San Diego, Santa Barbara and Las Vegas.

And if haute Los Angeles seems suspended in a permanent Gilded Age, flashy cars are out of favor. This year, less is more. "The norm has changed. Most of your execs and movie star people would prefer a lower-profile vehicle like a sedan or a town car," said Norm Kinard, director of special events at Valet Parking Service, the limousine coordinator for the Oscars. "That's a new phenomenon."

"With everything that's happened," Kinard said--everything being the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks--the car of choice is "lower-profile and a lot more inconspicuous."

Sixty percent of limousines nationwide are white, but at the Oscars, most movie executives want their clients to be seen stepping out of black cars. Lower-ranking invitees, Kinard said, tend to want the splashiest limousines they can get. There's a broad range: Limousine is a loose term for anything from a luxury sedan to a sport utility vehicle or a 12-passenger stretch vehicle. At the high end are the limousines made by American Custom Coachworks of Beverly Hills, whose limos with a 120-inch stretch will be among the Oscars coaches.

The seat section becomes a bed, and "if the stars want to relax, take it easy, they can lie down," said Oscar Meyer, the company's vice president.

The cars have ice and champagne compartments, bars, CD and DVD players, "even mirrored ceilings with over 200 star lights that change to six different colors," Meyer said.

Those can cost up to $85,000. There are even 130-inch-stretch limos with things like hot tubs, aquariums, fog machines and karaoke. But they won't be at the Oscars.

"Your average Joe," limousine coordinator Kinard said, "may show up in a six- or 12-passenger limousine, a stretch vehicle with all of the amenities, television and wet bar."

And they'll be in good company. Limousines, once associated with funerals, are so wedded to Hollywood and the Oscars that Lincoln took out a 20-page spread in Vanity Fair to trumpet itself as the "Official Luxury Vehicle of Campaign Hollywood."

Celebrities--Martin Sheen and Allison Janney of "The West Wing" and rocker Richie Sambora--posed with Lincolns for splashy photographs.

Uber agent Pat Kingsley said her clients will ride in Cadillacs: General Motors has a corporate relationship with the parent company of Kingsley's agency.

Because cars, like stars, are commodities.

The Cadillac A-list includes Robert Altman, Helen Mirren, Uma Thurman, Helen Hunt and Kirsten Dunst, Kingsley said. Gwyneth Paltrow and Russell Crowe will ride in Cadillac Escalades, an SUV, rather than traditional limousines.

"It's a courtesy thing of making these limos available, because we always run short this time of year anyway," Kingsley said. "Some people, like me, get nauseous in limousines. They sway a bit."

Brian Kish was the limousine driver for an Oscar nominee, David Franzoni, the lead screenwriter of "Gladiator," at last year's Academy Awards.

On the way to the Shrine Auditorium, Franzoni told Kish about going on location, from Morocco to Italy. "He was a gentleman, from start to finish," Kish said. "You'd never know he was one of these Hollywood guys." Franzoni and his wife walked to the Governor's Ball. When Kish picked him up, Franzoni was psyched, even though he had not won the screenwriting Oscar; "Gladiator" had won Best Picture.

They hit the party trail. There was the Vanity Fair bash at Morton's. The rest was a blur. "The last one, it was a zoo when he came out," Kish said. "He got in the car and he said, 'I'm too old for these parties. I'm ready to go home.'"

Home turned out to be a long drive to deep Malibu. Franzoni tipped him $60. "He kept asking me if I was all right," Kish said. "I've had a couple of idiots. So it was a breath of fresh air." A lot of limo companies will talk, sotto voce, about which movie stars they drive around, about how they have sex and do drugs in the back seat.

Not Zeke Unger. He's in the Rolodex of prominent Hollywood executives--but he won't tell you the names of any of those he is sending to the Academy Awards.

As far as he's concerned, his drive-and-tell competitors are "just prostitutes. To make a dollar, they're willing to prostitute their clients' security."

Unger's is among the handful of companies that have gotten permission to park their limousines away from the herd to be corralled at the Hollywood Bowl.

Keith Kaplan, of Ace Limousine Service in Santa Monica, said he had to submit his drivers' names to the FBI for approval. He was told the drivers can expect the cars to be searched with bomb-sniffing dogs.

"I've been doing this for 18 years, and this is the first time that security has been so tight," Kaplan said. The limousine tracking system at the Oscars is about as democratic as Hollywood gets.

Limousines arriving at the Kodak Theatre will be met on the street by greeters, who will present the celebrity with a ticket. The drivers will get a package with a meal ticket and head off to the Hollywood Bowl.

When celebrities emerge from the awards, they will present their tickets at the callback table. Greeters will call the Hollywood Bowl, the ticket number is announced over the public address system, and the driver hustles off to the Kodak Theatre. A lot can happen in the back seat of a limousine. So, for chauffeurs a typical protocol is: Ignore it. Even if they end up cleaning the cars with plastic gloves.

Limousine drivers have limits. They're sometimes asked to perform services they're not supposed to, such as procuring women. One driver said he almost stopped the car to kick out an obnoxious DreamWorks executive on his way to the Grammys last year. All this for between $11 and $14 an hour. Plus gratuities.

"Generally, it's a good tip that night, because it's a very prestigious night, an exciting night," said Kaplan of Ace Limousine. "The people in the car know that they are very obligated to tip this evening. It's common to get a $100 tip."

But, as Richard Scott, senior manager of Westside Limousine Service, notes, "the winners tip better than the losers." That jibes with the experience of limousine driver Kish, who is a retired officer of the California Highway Patrol. Last year, he drove to the Screen Actors Guild awards with one of the main actors in a nominated film.

The first setback was some glitter left in the car by a woman. It got all over the actor. And he got all upset. "It was ridiculous," Kish said. "But the lint brush seemed to pacify him."

The actor was in the running for an outstanding cast award with others in his film. But the cast of another movie won. So this star left early and went straight home, Kish said. "He was all bummed. He got on the phone with his wife and was all boo-hooing about losing," Kish said. "I said, 'Hey, there'll be other times. That's life.'

"He didn't tip me a dime," Kish said. Two weeks later, Kish said, the actor was on a magazine cover. When Kish was invited to drive for the Oscars this year, he declined.
"I don't think they really get the big picture," Kish concluded. "There are so many better things they could be doing with their 15 minutes of fame." *

Times staff writer Cara Mia DiMassa contributed to this report.

BBC

 

Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 October 2005, 23:03 GMT 00:03 UK
When hunting people is a career
By Chris Summers
BBC News Website

A film based on a privileged British woman who gave up modelling to be a bounty hunter opens this weekend. Her story may be unusual, but in the US hunting fugitives is big business.
The film Domino chronicles the life of female bounty hunter Domino Harvey, played in the film by Keira Knightley. The daughter of 1950s matinee idol Laurence Harvey, Domino spent several years working in tough South Central Los Angeles, targeting small-time drug addicts and dealers.

Yet it was drugs that were also her downfall - the former model died of an overdose in June, aged 35, and never got to see her own biopic.

Her story is an extraordinary one, the fact she was a woman adding to the intrigue. "It is pretty rare. They are out there, I know a few, but it's really a man's job," said Billy Wells, executive director of the US Professional Bail Bond Investigators Association. 'Dangerous job' Los Angeles based Zeke Unger, a technical adviser on the film, is one of the thousands of bounty hunters working in the United States.

Duane 'Dog' Chapman

Bounty hunter Duane Chapman now has his own TV show "I travel all over the country hunting fugitives and it can be a very dangerous job," he said. "You never know if you are going home at the end of the night." Mr Unger trained Knightley and co-stars Mickey Rourke and Edgar Ramirez and advised director Tony Scott on how to make scenes look realistic.
He told the BBC News Website: "Keira loved it. She loved the adrenaline rush she got from the training. She said her heart was jumping like crazy when she was breaking doors down."

The existence of American bounty hunters comes down to big differences between the bail systems in the US and the UK, where bail is granted by a court and it is left to the police to find someone if they fail to turn up for trial. In most US states - apart from in murder cases - suspects are freed from custody on the posting of a bail bond, the cost of which depends on the severity of the offence and the risk of absconding.

In most cases relatives put up collateral - cash or property - which can be forfeited if the person vanishes.

The real Domino Harvey Born in London on 7 August 1969, the daughter of actor Laurence Harvey and his supermodel wife Paulene Stone Ran a London nightclub, worked as a ranch-hand in California and as a firefighter near the Mexican border.

In 1993 she gave up modelling to work as a bounty hunter for a Los Angeles bail bonds firm In June 2005, while awaiting trial accused of dealing in amphetamines, she died of a drug overdose Last month, for example, John Gotti Jr, the son of the late New York mafia boss, was released on a $7m bail bond.

Bonds are provided by a bail bondsman, who is effectively gambling on the defendant turning up at court.
A premium is charged for each bond, which is where the bail bond firms make their profits. If the defendant goes missing the bondsman stands to lose his money, which is where the bounty hunter comes in. He, or she, is given the task of finding the miscreant and bringing them back.

'No bounty'

There are 14,000 bail bondsmen in the US and thousands of bounty hunters.
It's a game of cat and mouse and usually when you catch them they give up pretty easy

Billy Wells

Bounty hunter

Mr Wells said: "Everybody wants to be a bounty hunter until they find out what it involves. "They think it's glamorous, but you often have to spend hours on surveillance and at the end of the day if you don't get your man you don't get paid. No body, no bounty."

Mr Wells, who is based in San Antonio, Texas, said that in most cases fugitives can be found "in their favourite bar, or at their girlfriend's apartment".

"It's a game of cat and mouse and usually when you catch them they give up pretty easy."

Andrew Luster Max Factor heir Andrew Luster jumped bail in 2003 despite a $1m bond But some fugitives are serious about not getting caught. In January 2003 Andrew Luster, the heir to the Max Factor cosmetics fortune, skipped a $1m bail bond midway through his rape trial in Santa Monica, California. He was tracked down to Mexico by a Hawaii-based bounty hunter called Duane "Dog" Chapman.

But a Mexican police swoop led to Luster being sent back to California - where he was later convicted and jailed for 124 years - and Chapman being charged with detaining Luster illegally.

Ironically Chapman later jumped bail himself and fled back to Hawaii, where he now hosts a reality TV show on the A&E network. Squeaky clean The last big screen depiction of the industry was in Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown, in which Robert Forster played the decent and respectable bail bondsman, Max Cherry.

But bail bondsmen are often considered not to be quite so squeaky clean.
Keira Knightley with co-stars Mickey Rourke and Edgar Ramirez Knightley with co-stars Mickey Rourke and Edgar Ramirez
An investigation has been launched in California by the FBI amid fears that unscrupulous bail bondsmen, who failed to secure proper collateral when posting bonds, may have cost taxpayers up to $150m.

Meanwhile in Louisiana the FBI's Operation Wrinkled Robe has unearthed evidence of corruption in the bail bonds system. Earlier this year Judge Alan Green was convicted of mail fraud in connection to payments made by a New Orleans bail bonds firm. It is a tough business and many bail bondsmen and bounty hunters are either former police officers or ex-servicemen. Domino Harvey, with her upbringing in an English boarding school, was quite the exception.

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