ONE ON ONE
Private Eye Sees It All Investigator finds the bad, the ugly, and occasionally the good
ohn Lopes has been chasing criminals since serving as a military policeman during the Cold War. After leaving the service, he studied psychology and photography at Southeastern Massachusetts University. In 1979, he moved to Los Angeles and began working as a private investigatorin-training. In 1985, he started his own investigative business—THE AGENCY—there, then moved the business to Virginia in 1995. His services run the gamut of human foibles—infidelity, insurance fraud, missing persons and the occasional homicide. VN: Where were you stationed as a
JL: I ended up doing the majority of my time in Berlin during the Vietnam War. I never did make it to Vietnam. I was trained to be a soldier and part of me wishes I had made it there to serve my country. VN: What was the attraction of being
a private detective?
JL: In 1979 I moved to Los Angeles and met a retired FBI agent turned private investigator. He felt my background was totally applicable to what he was doing. I was on this quest to find my niche and I believe it was a prayer answered because I got to use my photography skills, my psychological skills and my military police skills. VN: Where are you based and what areas
do you work?
JL: Our main office is in Fredericksburg but we don’t give out our physical location for security reasons. We have 22 investigators in the field and we work from Baltimore to Richmond and down to Williamsburg. VN: Private investigators are stereotypically
thought of as gumshoe types. But how has technology changed the business?
JL: GPS (Global Positioning System) has been a huge
boon for us. It helps us to follow people but it also helps us establish credibility with clients—they can see for themselves how on top of things we are. So it’s gotten very high-tech. We’ve got ink pens that have video cameras. VN: What’s the most challenging part
of the job?
JL: There is the element of danger. But the most challenging part is the hours—it’s 24-7. It’s also getting enough rest and staying on point because it’s all about the details. VN: You see the ugly side of life—adultery,
fraud, murder—but you still seem to relish the job. How does that work?
JL: Everyone comes to us with a puzzle with pieces missing. I guess the joy comes from the ability to answer those questions, walking away with the information your client wanted. I feel like I’m helping people. — Ted Byrd Jamie Haverkamp Photo