This article can be found at the following website https://www.thejournalnj.com
JUL 29, 2019
By Shanna O’Mara
Everyone knows the scene: a courageous, truth-seeking investigator slips into a public restroom only to emerge minutes later in a new outfit, dark lipstick, a platinum wig and oversized glasses. Usually this plot-thickening event takes place on the big screen, but for one local resident, this scene could play out on any average weekday. Meet Little Silver’s Bari Kroll.
Kroll grew up in the Old Bridge/Matawan area then moved to Red Bank in 1998 and Little Silver shortly thereafter. While she is active in her community, perhaps her biggest contribution to the people of Monmouth County is through her work as a private investigator.
“This job is an extension of who I am,” Kroll said. “After I had my son, I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, but six months in, I realized being I wanted to go back to work.”
She recognized her passion while driving around Red Bank one afternoon while her young son was napping in the car. She randomly noticed a familiar car on the other side of the street.
“I’m really good at memorizing license plate numbers, and I knew that one,” she humorously recalled. “It was my friend’s car, so I called her and asked, ‘Why are you not at work?’ She laughed and told me I should be a PI, and that was it!”
After calling several private investigation agencies in Monmouth County, Kroll realized few took her seriously without a law enforcement background. Finally, James McCabe, the owner of Mack Investigations LLC, gave her a chance.
“He told me he had never hired someone he didn’t know,” Kroll said. “But he said, ‘You seem enthusiastic. Do you want to try surveillance this weekend?’”
Kroll eagerly accepted the challenge.
“I grew to love the business,” she said. “I wanted to know everything about it.”
After five years of working at the firm, McCabe announced he’d be retiring.
In New Jersey, a private investigator can apply for a license after five years working in law enforcement or working under a licensed investigator. Kroll applied for her license and soon branched out to open her own company, B. Lauren Investigations, LLC in 2010. Today, B. Lauren is licensed in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
Kroll has “owned and operated one of the largest female run Private Investigative companies in New Jersey for almost 10 years,” according to Stacy Ross, marketing consultant for the company.
“She is well respected, and is often called upon to appear on various media outlets to discuss particular cases, surveillance and cyber security,” Ross said.
With five investigators now working under her, Kroll provides clients with both expert surveillance video as well as industry knowledge to insure the evidence gathered supports and helps the case in question.
“I have to blend in to get answers,” she said, noting she often wears disguises for surveillance missions. “I’ll have covert camera equipment to record video and audio of my subject.”
Because she cannot film people in areas of expected privacy, such as a bedroom, bathroom or locker room, she and her employees often follow subjects at the gym, restaurants, at work or in other public places. They abide by trespassing laws and therefore cannot go on private property or gain visual access by climbing a fence or tree, for example.
Surveillance operations can last a few hours or a few days, the length depending on how much evidence the client requests as well as how quickly it can be obtained. Some subjects, for example, are easy to track because of their social media activity, she said.
“If there are no privacy settings on Facebook and a person posts about where they’re going, what time, with who, that makes my job easier,” Kroll said. “That’s when I do surveillance from home in my pajamas. Some people can’t resist letting everyone know what they’re doing, where they’re going.”
An attorney once contacted B. Lauren Investigations about a woman suspected to be faking an injury to receive compensation. Kroll found the woman’s Facebook page and learned she’d be attending a wedding reception at a restaurant in Point Pleasant.
“I knew I just needed footage of her dancing in heels [to prove she wasn’t hurt],” Kroll said. She arrived at the venue and disguised herself as part of the wait staff. “I asked the bartender to act like I was his manager. I walked around and poured water, waiting for her to get on the dance floor.”
She eventually got the video she needed and earned the nickname “Wedding Crasher” from attorney colleagues, having attended others for work purposes. Kroll and her team have also gone to proms incognito, followed a neighbor to a date with his confirmed mistress and even drove to Kentucky on the trail of a subject.
“This job is exhausting,” she admitted. “But it’s interesting. You never know where the day will bring you. You could start your morning following someone to work then taking a detour to Vermont,” she laughed.
Kroll summarized her surveillance work, explaining, “We don’t direct the movie, just film it.”
To learn more about Kroll and B. Lauren Investigations, visit BLaurenInvestigations.com.
Three things to know about Kroll:
1. She has a teenaged son who has helped in cases when she needed a child to pose undercover.
2. One year, she left her birthday dinner at Avenue Le Club in Long Branch to pursue a case. Her husband packed up the food, met her at the surveillance site, and they ate dinner in the car while working.
3. B. Lauren Investigations handles approximately 300 cases a year, about 65 percent of those coming from attorneys and 35 percent from private citizens.