Bounty hunting big business in Las Vegas - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Bounty hunting big business in Las Vegas

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Agents have found fugitives hiding in washing machines, mattresses and walls. Agents have found fugitives hiding in washing machines, mattresses and walls.
Agents often carry lethal weapons when trying to catch fugitives wanted for more serious crimes. Agents often carry lethal weapons when trying to catch fugitives wanted for more serious crimes.

Bounty hunting is big business in Las Vegas - just ask the people who do it every day. FOX5 recently went along for the ride.

Thousands of people are arrested in Las Vegas every year, and most are able to post bail and get out. The trouble starts when they don't show up for court - and that's when the hunt begins.

"Let's be safe. There's bad guys out there, and they know we're coming for them," Bail Enforcement Agent Adam Brooks told his team of bounty hunters during a daily briefing.

The former Henderson police officer leads the team at Las Vegas Fugitive Recovery. They are hired by bondsmen to track down and arrest the men and women who jump bail.

The bondsmen are on the hook for the full amount if the suspect doesn't show up to court, and that is why there is a vested interest in capturing them within six months.

The team jumps into unmarked vans and drives to locations where they believe a certain fugitive may be hiding. They coordinate with Las Vegas Metropolitan Police since they are covert, and sometimes attract the attention of concerned neighbors.

"Once I know where a guy is, I like to go get him," Brooks said. "Because, the neighbors might tell him when he gets home – ‘Hey, there were 10 guys in your place' - and he's gone. He'll move.'"

The group makes five visits on this night in late April, tracking down suspects accused of assault to attempted murder.

"Open the door - bail enforcement, or I'm going to force it!" an agent yells into a residence.

Most residents comply, and in many cases, they are the innocent co-signers of the bond.

A few people, however, do put up a fight.

"We find people in washing machines, dryers, in dishwashers," Brooks said, adding that once he found a fugitive hiding inside a wall.

Enforcement agents can earn 10 percent of the bail for a capture, which can net tens of thousands of dollars depending on the job.

If they miss, the agents just wait or come back. The agents say it's a cat-and-mouse game.

"When he gets comfortable, we're going to go back out and see if we can locate him that way," said Brooks. "It's not as easy as, here's the file, you go in, knock on the door and he's eating Doritos and drinking a Coke. It's not that easy."

The men with Brooks don't do this job full-time.

One owns a dog-training business, and another holds a high position in a local telecommunications company.

Bounty hunting is a job that requires plenty of resources, the agents say, and police often leave it to them.

"(Officers are) responding to calls for service," Brooks said. "If they come across these guys, that's great - if they want to take them into custody, but they're not out actively pursuing these people."

Anyone can become a bounty hunter. It does require an 80-hour training course administered by the state of Nevada. The only disqualification is if one has any felony convictions. The agents are permitted to carry lethal force but rarely, if ever, have to use it.

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