INDIANAPOLIS,Ind (April 23,2015)-- FOX59 was along for the ride as local bounty hunters worked to get dangerous criminals off the streets of central Indiana. Criminals in Indianapolis can either face the judge or run from the law, but if you decide to skip court, there’s a good chance a local fugitive recovery agent will be looking for you.
Bail enforcement agents will go just about anywhere to return wanted fugitives to the courts, and they put themselves in extreme danger while doing it.
"We actually put our lives on the line to oversee these people," said bail agent Kevin Watkins.
Bail agents put up the money to bail someone out of jail--guaranteeing that you will show up for court. However, if you decide to ditch your day in court, Watkins and his team of agents will find you. Bail agents are required to pay the total sum of the bail if the fugitive fails to appear for court.
Bounty hunters have the power to make arrests, enter homes with a warrant and they are regulated by the state. Despite the oversight, bail agents are often depicted in movies and TV shows as gun-wielding misfits. Also, there's confusion about what they are legally allowed to do.
"We are serious about our jobs and there are legitimate bail enforcement agents out there," said Watkins
While Watkins and his crew are all licensed. Back in March, Alvino Jones was arrested for impersonating a bounty hunter.
Investigators found fake bail agent paraphernalia, badges and identification during a raid of Jones' home. He was allegedly breaking into homes, identifying himself as a bounty hunter. One of his alleged victims was Kelsey Cantrell.
"They did look like cops because they were driving a Charger with a light on it, said Cantrell.
Cantrell says Jones busted through her front door with a rifle in hand.
They identified themselves as United States bounty hunters. They put me in their car and wouldn't let me out," said Cantrell.
"You should not be doing this if you don't have the proper credentials. It also makes us look bad when people are going around pretending to be bail agents," said Watkins.
Legitimate bail enforcement agents will always be carrying their identification, and they will have a warrant for the fugitive they are looking for. If a bounty hunter comes knocking on your door, be sure to ask for those two items. Call police if you are skeptical.
"It’s not some superhero thing. This is real and you can die doing this," said Watkins.
Here is a list of licensed Indiana bail agents.