Private investigation firm Global Eye Investigations, located in Ahwatukee Foothills, focuses on elder abuse and background checks, addressing a rather understated problem.
According to Elder Abuse Daily Online, Maricopa County has nearly 66,587 cases of elder abuse (reported and unreported) every year. This accounts for 54 percent of all cases of abuse in Arizona.
"The more I looked into it the more I saw that Arizona is pretty much a retirement state and there is a big need for that", said Jacob Mueller, Global Eye Investigations founder. "It just felt right."
Mueller, an Oxnard, Calif., policeman turned private investigator started Global Eye Investigations in February of 2006. When searching for his niche in private investigation, he soon found that elder abuse really got hold of his interest and held it.
"Doing the domestic stuff like surveillance to me got a little boring, and I wanted to get back in the realm of taking care of a real problem," Mueller said.
There are many different kinds of abuse that the elderly are subjected to. From domestic to financial, Mueller's company focuses on it all and encourages residents to educate themselves on elder abuse, watch for the signs and report it.
When looking for signs of physical abuse, the clues are usually visible and come in the form of unexplained bruises, cuts, scrapes, etc., whereas financial abuse is usually harder to spot. Mueller says to always watch bank accounts.
If an elderly adult is bed ridden but their bank account suddenly shows numerous ATM withdrawals, that money is being taken out by someone other than the account owner.
"One big sign that would be very obvious, if the bills have always been paid and money has always been there, the second the bills aren't being paid, someone needs to say something," Mueller said. "When those funds aren't going to paying for their bills anymore, the money is going somewhere."
Another sign Mueller says to look for is if a caregiver is reluctant to leave a patient's side whenever family or friends come to visit. If they do not want to leave the patient alone with someone other than him or herself, there is a reason behind it.
Not only does Global Eye conduct private investigations, they also perform in-depth background checks. Mueller notes that private investigation work for the elderly and background checks are directly linked. Especially when considering hiring a caregiver.
"If they really think they need background investigations it's probably worth spending a few bucks to have a background check," he said.
Mueller and his company also offer a number of free classes and seminars to educate residents and businesses on the nature of elderly abuse, how to spot it and how to report it. They also offer a free quote to anyone who thinks someone they know might be suffering from elderly abuse.
"I have stepped up into the education, so people do know what's there," Mueller said. "There's a lot of stuff out there that people just don't know."
• Haley Buntrock is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a sophomore at Arizona State University.