On the Case with Cookie Schwartz Diaz
From locating missing people to breaking counterfeit rings, Private Investigator Cookie Schwartz Diaz has seen it all. Cookie runs the successful Tri-Valley Investigations out of Valencia taking on a multitude of cases from insurance fraud and asset searches to background investigations and identity theft. “Every day is something different, and it’s definitely not boring. When you start your day, you don’t know what kind of challenge you’ll be faced with.”
With nearly three decades of experience under her belt, it was Cookie’s curious mind that led to a career in private investigating. “I was always interested in it. Many of the jobs I was employed in involved some form of investigation, so I enrolled in school and took specialized classes in that field. My instructors hired me right out of school, and that’s how I started.” In order to apply to take the state test to get your license, you must complete 6,000 hours working for other investigators.
Twenty-seven years after getting her start and making her mark in the male dominated profession, Cookie has worked on countless cases, many of which involved high profile individuals. “I did work on the OJ Simpson case, a small part, because there were dozens of investigators on that case. We found some items that would have clarified his guilt, but they were not allowed to be presented in court. That was very, very frustrating.”
Alongside Cookie on many of her cases is her supportive husband, Frank Diaz. “When I’m doing surveillance, he usually comes with me so we have a second set of eyes and can also go in the carpool lane. When you’re doing surveillance, your subject, whether or not they have another person in their vehicle, will sometimes get into the diamond lane. If you’re not with somebody, you don’t want to get an expensive ticket.
Stakeouts and high speed chases alongside her husband may sound like something out of a Lifetime movie, but television portrayals of private investigators are filled with inaccuracies. “One misconception would be how easy it is to break into people’s houses. That’s totally illegal. You can’t do that. You see that all the time on television. It’s just funny when you watch these shows, and you see private investigators doing these things.”
With a disturbing amount of scam artists who will do anything to steal someone’s money or identity, Cookie has one piece of vital advice. “Don’t ever give your passwords, screen names, Social Security numbers, bank account information to anybody on the phone or in an email. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to help people who have given out personal information. And be very careful about befriending people who approach you on social media sites.”
While each day brings a new case and different experience, the ability to help others is what continues to drive Cookie to do what she does best. “The satisfaction is in helping people. I’ve done quite a few adoption cases, and it always feels good when you reunite families. Sometimes it’s parents looking for their kids or kids looking for their parents. Sometimes it’s siblings looking for each other. Helping people is very satisfying.”
photo by Joie de Vivre photographie
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