When you think about it stalking is not that much different to investigating. Until it gets creepy and weird, and you find shines dedicated to yourself in someones basement. (So don't do that, I don't like it.)
Knowing how to conduct an investigation is a handy skill to have. Every now and then, for both fun and to keep my skills in working order I go looking for someone. Usually not a random person, but someone I've met and lost touch with. Or met and not got around to asking for whatever information I decide I require. It's not random, and I always know what my intention is at the get go.
Tonight for example, I wanted to find a cell phone number. Not just a land line. (oh no that would've been too easy and taken only a few minutes.) As it happens the whole exercise only took me about five minutes. Talk about easy to locate.
Mostly it hinges on knowing the correct spelling of the persons name. The more you know about the person the easier it is to get the information, because you have more avenues to explore.
So anyway -it was simple exercise that ended in a cell phone text chat, and all is well.
Sometimes it's not so easy. Say for example a character needs to locate someone presumed dead. (For ease let's say this person was American)
There is this wonderful thing called the Social Security death index. Here's a link.
This can be time consuming and is easier the more information you have, obviously. But if they're dead they'll be in the register.
Here is my actual investigation check list with extra questions for missing persons cases. (Yes it's a real list - I got an 'A+' while studying for my PI license with this list when I did this particular investigation paper.) I have removed client questions, as we're not concerned with the client but the subject of the investigation.
• Subject family name [surname] Check spelling.
• First names. List all given names. Check spelling.
• Name commonly known by.
• Date of birth.
• Current age in years.
• Marriage details: spouses or significant other - maiden name, full name, DOB.
• Residential address.
• Name of employer/business name.
• Employment address.
• Nationality. [race]
• Native language.
• Languages spoken.
• Does the subject speak fluent English?
• Skin color.
• Build. [small, medium, heavy]
• Eye color.
• Hair color.
• Usual form of dress. [suit, jeans, skirt, slacks, dress etc]
• Sexual preference/tendencies. [heterosexual, homosexual, lesbian]
• Recent photo of subject. Get as many as possible.
• Glasses or contacts worn?
• Do the contacts change eye color?
• Are glasses worn always or only for reading or driving?
• Sunglasses, are they worn habitually?
• Facial appearance- moustache, teeth, beard etc.
• Visible distinguishing marks-birthmarks, scars etc not covered by clothing.
• Visible tattoos-obtain full description. Where was tattoo done and who by?
• Smoker? [Brand, preferred type, where usually purchased.]
• Make model color year of vehicle and license number.
• Does the subject own a mobile phone?
• Name and address of boyfriend or girlfriend. [full names and contact details, vehicles driven etc, place of employment.]
• Special friends. [Full names and contact details, vehicles driven, place of employment.]
• Former spouses or partners.
Additional questions. [esp. relevant to missing person investigations]
• Places subject visits regularly. [Bars, libraries, places of interest to the subject, stores that hold particular appeal; bookstores, specialty stores, supermarkets used etc. A particular park etc]
• Bank accounts held by subject.
• Does subject have credit cards, eftpos card, and checking account?
• Passport, passport number if known.
• Any medical condition that requires on going medication?
• If so which pharmacy is used most frequently?
• Doctor, lawyers, barrister, dentist’s names.
• Does subject wear a medic alert bracelet?
• Does subject have criminal record?
• Any court orders or warrants pertaining to subject?
• Family members. [Children; names, ages, schools, full description. Parents etc. of subject.]
• Does subject use MSN messenger, Yahoo, ICQ, Paltalk, GCN, or any other internet based messenger service? Include social networking sites. (MySpace, facebook, Bebo, etc)
• All known email addresses for subject.
• All known nicknames used on internet. [screen names]
• Does subject frequent any chat rooms regularly?
• Communicate regularly with anyone over the internet? [or by regular mail, phone]
• Does subject use cyber cafes?
• Anything out of character said or done recently?
• Place subject last scene, time, date, health [including mental state] of subject.
• How was subject behaving? [calm, relaxed, normal self, happy, agitated, upset, angry etc]
• Does subject use recreational drugs? [marijuana etc]
• Has subject gone missing before? Details!
• Memberships. [Clubs, organizations, professional associations.]
Answer the questions and you'll find the person or at least someone who knows something about the person!