PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR FLYNN: How 'bout disguises? CARTER: No. The only disguise I would ever use would maybe be dark glasses. FLYNN: Ever punch anybody? CARTER: No. FLYNN: Ever been punched? CARTER: Never been punched. Never even been threatened. FLYNN: Ever been shot at? CARTER: Never been shot at. FLYNN: Do you have to stay in shape so you can chase guys over fences and whatnot? CARTER: Well, since I don't chase guys over fences I don't have to stay in shape, but I do, just in case. Private Investigator Stew Carter doesn't even carry a gun. He says he's never needed one through 22 years on the job. There are criminal investigators- connected with the District Attorney's office or with the defense attorneys involved in much more dangerous activities. But for the typical PI, the opportunities just aren't there. CARTER: TV PI's are not any semblance of reality. That's fiction. It's sensationalized fiction. I've watched Magnum PI when he was on TV. I watched Spenser: For Hire when he was on. Magnum I watched because he was probably the most realistic PI on TV.. because he worried about when the next bill was gonna be paid. Private investigators will look into negligence cases involving car accidents or injuries of all types; take pictures of auto accident scenes or errant husbands or wives. They'll conduct pre-nuptial or pre-employment investigations. Stew's favorite is finding missing persons- turning up that long-lost grandson or someone's biological parents. CARTER: I haven't failed to find the person yet. It's very interesting because you get to dig into a case. And it's usually rewarding in the sense that it helps somebody out- there's value to my client's finding the person. Carter says most of his time is spent in his car, usually on the way to or from an auto accident scene for instance, to take statements from the drivers and witnesses. Or he might be stuck in his car indefinately- on a stakeout. CARTER: That's the dregs of the business: simply sitting in your car, watching a door or watching another car or watching an area for hours at a time; occasionally following somebody else's car for a number of miles. Sometimes it's a divorce case.. child custody.. there's several reasons for doing surveillance. Stew will serve summonses and also take on cases of insurance fraud. CARTER: Faking that a person is injured, and the person is faking disability. It also involves people whose cars are not really stolen. And I did at one time send somebody to jail for a false insurance claim. An associate of Carter's handles most of the matrimonial surveillance, that is, watching for evidence of someone cheating on their spoouse. But there's no need in taking picturres of the deed for proof. CARTER: It's my understanding that if you catch two people going into a motel room... and they're there for an extended period of time, and they come out together, that means that there was opportunity. There was motive. You've got the fact right there. In other words, you don't have to get photos of the people unclothed. Basically, a Private Investigator's job is separating fact from fiction. And Stew says there are things that tip him off as to wheter the truth is being presented or not. During interviews, sometimes it's best to say nothing at all. CARTER: That's always the case. That's a cardinal rule of any investigation: don't say too much. Let the other person talk. It's knowing where to be and what to say at the right time. The hours can be long, the paperwork unending, but Carter says the private investigating business is never boring. CARTER: It's probably the most fascinating job in the world. I can't think of another job that would be more interesting than investigating. Because it involves talking with people and people are fascinating. Bill Flynn, WXXI 1370.