Read an interview by Seattle News Tribune – Capital Hill Times
Meet Wolfgang Grasst: A local Private Investigator
Interview by Jenny Kuglin Capital Hill Times and Photo by Sonya Wallace
When I scheduled my interview with Wolfgang Grasst, Private Investigator, I accidentally told him the wrong address to the coffee shop where we meeting. But since he’s a good investigator, and I’m apparently a shoddy reporter, he had no problem finding me anyway.
“I looked at your picture online,” he told me, intense eyes flashing. “And I didn’t think you’d want to be outside because it’s cold. It made sense that you were here and not there.”
While locating me wasn’t exactly his toughest assignment ever, it was very representative of a man who clearly knows what he’s doing when it comes to easily finding people.
“I love surveillance,” Grasst said. “I like the IT and computer side of what I do, but following people is what I love. I’ve been on some wild cases.”
Grasst has been in the investigation business for a long time, doing both field work and online tracking. He’s worked for attorneys, government agencies, and now has his own business, Washington State Investigators. He works on fraud cases, workers comp claims, child custody cases, and people who want to know if their partner is being unfaithful.
I, of course, asked him to tell about one of those wild cases he had mentioned. While he couldn’t give me certain details, I did learn it involved infidelity, doctors, and a cross-country love affair.
“There were two parties coming in from out of state for a big convention here in downtown Seattle,” he said. “The object was to follow the targets and document both of their activities.”
(I should note, Grass talks exactly like you might expect: like a detective. I’ll just let him tell the story now.)
“So, as an investigator, you want to find out what flight they may come in on, what path they may take to the hotel, like a taxi. But these parties arrived and split up the moment they hit the escalator; they went two different directions. So the primary goal was to follow one, which will lead you to the other for the most part.”
“So I followed the primary target and this person got in a cab. As soon as I got the cab number, I had to then rush back to my vehicle, at a major airport, and try to find them on the freeway. Which I did. And then I followed them into downtown Seattle.”
“I was able hop into the elevator with the primary target and get off on their floor, not realizing the hotel had like, six to eight rooms only per floor. So I acted lost. But then the other target opened the door to the room, and let my primary target in. So I was able to film it right then and there because I was on my phone!”
“That’s some careful and shady behavior,” I said. “Did they know they were being followed?”
“Oh no,” he answered, shaking his head. “They worked together at a large organization. There was, how should I put it? A conflict of interest. There were 7500 medical professionals at this conference and they didn’t want to be caught acting unprofessionally. They would do things like separate and go on two different elevators. I mean, they were very careful. One wrong turn and I could have lost them at the very beginning!”
“Is there a thrill in catching people?” I asked. “Or do you ever feel bad about it?”
“I feel a lot of empathy for the different parties,” Grasst told me. “And I always talk to the people who hire me and counsel them. ‘If you do this? What’s the motivation?’ I mean, they usually already know what’s going on. So I ask them what evidence they need and why. A lot of folks just need it to support their decision. Most cases are emotionally driven.”
While Grasst does enjoy surveillance, he says he certainly doesn’t act like the investigators do on the show “Cheaters.” He says he won’t tell the person who hires him that he’s caught their partner until 24 hours after they were spotted, so there isn’t a confrontation.
“In Washington, I would be responsible for what happens,” he said. “I always make sure not to tell what happened until the parties are no longer there.”
He says that 90 percent of the time people hire him in infidelity cases, the person is actually cheating. Grasst also told me he’s never been caught following someone.
“Never. Not in all of my years doing this,” he said. “When you’re following someone, you dress in dark colors. You make sure your car has tinted windows and it’s an average car: gold, beige, etcetera, so it blends right in. Preferably you’re not in a beat-up car in a nice neighborhood.”
He also says his job isn’t quite as exciting as television might portray.
“What a lot of TV doesn’t depict is the six, eight, 12 hours that you’re sitting in your vehicle and you can’t leave. For any reason!” he said laughing. “Because the moment you leave, even for five minutes, something with your target occurs.”
When I finished up my interview, and asked Grasst if he had anything else he wanted to tell me, he just said, “I want people on Capitol Hill to know I’m here if they need me.”
Washington State Investigators