Freelance Bounty Hunters and Professional Bondsmen Learn New Tips and Tricks at PBUS Convention

bounty hunterThe Professional Bail Agents of the United States, or PBUS, holds a convention every year, which always proves to be the largest annual gathering of bounty hunters and bail bondsmen in the country. Shane Bauer, a reporter with Mother Jones, attended last year’s convention, and got an inside look at the gathering’s goings-on, learning how the industry works and picking up tips and tricks of the trade alongside freelance bounty hunters and professional bail bondsmen. 

The jail bond business is a pretty straightforward one. Say for example you’ve been arrested for driving while intoxicated. Eventually, you appear before a judge who will decide whether or not to give you bail — to let you out before the trial. If they do, they’ll also set a bail amount that must be paid as collateral if the defendant wants to be free for the time leading up to the If you don’t have enough money to cover this cost and don’t want to hang around in jail, then someone goes on your behalf to a bondsman, who will pony up the money, but at a non-refundable fee, which is usually 10% of the bail amount. So if the bail for your DUI is $5,000, then you’d have to pay the bondsman $500. This is part of the reason why the full cost of a crime like a DUI can often average out to $10,000.

If someone “jumps bail” and doesn’t show up to court, the money is kept and a warrant is issued. This is why bondsman hire bounty hunters — to help them recoup their loss. These bounty hunters also take a fee similar to bondsman. They’ll catch a bail jumper for 10% of the bail cost. Sometimes it’s only $50, but other times it might be $100,000. 

Interestingly, bounty hunters catch 97% of the bail jumpers they go after. That’s not to say that police are lazy, but the fact of the matter is that they’ll earn the same salary regardless of whether or not they catch the bail jumpers. Bounty hunters on the other hand are freelancers, and won’t get their pay if they don’t catch their prey. 

Although these professionals are already freakishly good at what they do, there is always room for improvement, which is a large part of what PBUS’s convention is about. 

Last year, attendees learned about using social media and smartphones to their advantage. Not only could Facebook could be used as a great way to find skips, but if a bondsmen or bounty hunter were to log in to the bail jumper’s Apple ID, they could trace skips’ iPhones. 

There are also companies that drive around scanning license plates. Though the primary clientele of these businesses are repo companies, they’re usually willing to sell info to bondsmen and bounty hunters. 

The biggest takeaway from the convention was this: if you post bail, don’t skip out on it even if the threat of jail time looms heavy, because you will be found.

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