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Eugène-François Vidocq

Eugène-François Vidocq

The Vidocq Group company name is a reference to the creativity of a colourful French figure in the history of investigation and policing, Eugène François Vidocq.

Known to have lived a highly tumultuous youth, Vidocq spent his time joining and deserting various military units as well as committing minor thefts and frauds. His young adult years saw him being repeatedly jailed and escaping, as well as living under assumed identities. Vidocq eventually matured and decided to collaborate with the French authorities. In 1809, he became an informant and secret agent for the Paris police. He eventually joined the Brigade de la Sûreté, an unorthodox police squad that was mostly comprised of ex-convicts, and whose role it was to infiltrate the underworld. Eight years later, he was appointed as the head of the Brigade.

Vidocq’s skills in the art of intelligence gathering, infiltration and disguise became renowned. His unconventional methods and numerous successes made him a household name in France. Although not without much controversy, his men allegedly tripled the rate of crime clearance by arrest in comparison with traditional police forces of the time. He served as chief of the Brigade from 1817 to 1827, tendering his second and final resignation under controversy.

In 1833 Vidocq created the Bureau de renseignements pour le commerce, which provided merchants with intelligence, particularly regarding the financial solvency of new customers. Many believe this agency was the first company to provide private investigation services.

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