Monday Q&A: Modesto private investigator hunts down the truth

John Hodson is a Modesto-based private investigator. He routinely works for criminal defense attorneys on a variety of cases. He is pictured in his Modesto office on Friday morning (07-11-14).
John Hodson is a Modesto-based private investigator. He routinely works for criminal defense attorneys on a variety of cases. He is pictured in his Modesto office on Friday morning (07-11-14). The Modesto Bee

With his strong northern English accent, John Hodson promises his clients that he will find the truth.

He’s a licensed private investigator, working on behalf of people searching for answers. He works with defense attorneys handling tough homicide cases. He also takes on clients wanting to know if their spouse is cheating.

It’s a wide range of cases that Hodson and Hodson Investigations tackles. From its office on 15th Street in downtown Modesto, Hodson and his staff have investigated gang homicides, violent assaults, sexual assaults and fraud.

They conduct surveillance and background investigations. They also look for fugitives and missing people.

“You name it, we probably do it or know someone who will,” Hodson said.

The other half of Hodson and Hodson Investigations is his wife, Ali, whom he says is just as voracious an investigator as he is.

He worked for 14 years in his home country of England as a police officer, also commonly referred to as a “bobby.” He moved to the U.S. in 1991. He worked for 16 years for the Modesto Police Department, before he retired three years ago and started his private investigator business.

How did you get into the private investigator business?

It seemed a natural progression to go from law enforcement into the PI field. I already had a lengthy experience in investigation, report writing and court presentation, as well as surveillance and many of the other tools required to be a good PI. To be eligible to apply for and take the exam to be a PI, there is a requirement that an individual must have gained several thousand hours of investigation over a specified number of years. Many police officers have this requirement and that is why several officers upon retirement become PIs, although many of them find that it is not for them and do not stay with it.

What made you want to become a private investigator?

I am a good investigator. I like to get to the bottom of things. I wanted to be in a situation where I could still make a difference in people’s lives, as I did when I was a police officer.

What do you like about your job?

Helping people who are in need of my services. Being an influence in people’s lives. Having the ability and the skills to find things that others cannot.

Are any types of cases more difficult to investigate than others? If so, why?

Any cases involving physical injury to someone or the loss of a loved one, especially where children are involved. These cases always are difficult to deal with emotionally.

When you contact someone to question them for a case, what type of reactions do you receive?

People are often surprised or shocked and a little suspicious that they are being contacted by a private investigator. Once they have the reason explained to them, they are usually very helpful.

What misconceptions do you think people have about your job?

Some people see PIs as “wannabe cops” and sneaky lowlife individuals who creep about trying to film people involved in illicit affairs. That’s just a small part of the job – just kidding. A lot of perceptions come from TV and the film world, where the PI is generally portrayed as seedy and unpleasant.

What should people know about your job that they might not know?

I am a fact finder. With my staff, I go after the truth, and I will find it. Whether it be good truth or bad truth, I will find it. I am here to help people who may need me. I work on many cases where people have been accused of wrongdoing; I do not judge.

One of the services you offer is called “Check-A-Mate.” What is this all about, and how do you investigate these cases?

This refers to checks that we carry out on behalf of spouses or significant others, who believe their partners may be cheating on them, or people who are just looking to date and want to know something about the person they may be dating. Basically we do in-depth background checks on persons. We have several resources that we use that enable us to check people out to make sure they are not cheaters, convicted felons, con men, stalkers or crazies.

What would you consider highlights in your career as a private investigator so far?

We worked on behalf of a family to find their nieces, twin 7-year-old girls who were with their mother somewhere in Honduras. We were able to locate the mother of the girls and put her back in contact with her deceased husband’s family, so they could be reunited. Also, working on a criminal case where the client has been wrongfully accused and arrested, and proving their innocence. Locating people or heirs to estates who have been missing for several years.