Confessions of a Bounty Hunter (Bail Recovery Agent)

Topher Jones I was young when I got started as a bail recovery agent. I had just turned 23 and recently been honorably discharged from the Army. I was working as an EMT for an ambulance service in Oklahoma City, and I needed a second job to earn a living wage. It was 2004, and the TV show 'Dog the Bounty Hunter' was just starting to become popular. While watching an episode, I thought to myself, "I could do that." So I set out to become a bounty hunter -- or bail recovery agent, as it is properly referred.

After doing a little research I discovered that most states require bail recovery agents to be licensed bail bondsmen. Two of the states that didn't have such restrictions were Oklahoma, the state I was desperately trying to escape from, and Arizona, the state I had always wanted to move to.

Bail recovery is a very difficult business to break into. Bail bondsmen usually work with tight-knit groups of agents, and proving that you are up to the task and not just another 'Dog the Bounty Hunter' fan is quite difficult.

As an interesting side note: Dog is not actually a bounty hunter; he is a convicted felon and is legally forbidden from being a registered bail recovery agent. This is why when you watch the show, you'll never see Dog actually place the fugitive under arrest, nor carry a gun. Hence, the pepper spray guns he carries.

My first case

My first bounty came to me out of the blue, from a bondsman that I had never met before, by the name of Blacky Blackshear out of Colorado. The name sounded fake, like something out of a bad western movie. At first I thought someone was playing a prank on me. But when the fax with the bench warrant came through, I knew the job was for real.

The bounty's name was Roger. Roger was wanted in Colorado for a domestic assault charge and was reportedly staying in Arizona with his mother. Earlier in the week, Blacky had been in Tucson to arrest Roger. When Roger saw him approaching, he ran, causing both of them to get injured and allowing Roger to get away.

job interviewBlacky was fed up and wanted someone else deal with Roger, so he called me. I tried to play it cool and pretend that I was a seasoned professional, when in reality I could hardly contain my excitement. I realized immediately that if I wanted the job there were a couple of hurdles I'd have to overcome. First was the fact that I was broke and therefore stuck in Oklahoma. I told Blacky to give me a few days to check the situation out, after which I'd give him a ring.

The setup

Though it was my first assignment as a bondsman, I knew I had skills that would help me. My years of working as an EMT had taught me how to deal with people in a manner that greatly diminished the chances of a situation turning violent. I have found, after years on the job, that I can often get people to agree to most requests just by talking to them. If I wanted to, I'm sure I could be a great salesman.

I made a couple of failed attempts to contact Roger by phone. Each time I either got voicemail or his mother, who would repeatedly tell me that Roger wasn't there. During one of my calls I could actually hear Roger talking in the background. It finally hit me. I already had an in and hadn't realized it. Roger's mother was an elderly woman and it was obvious that they had a very strong relationship.

So the next time I called, I didn't ask for Roger, but spoke to her. She told me how the domestic assault charges were really the actions of a jealous ex who was upset with Roger for breaking up with her. She broke down and began crying when the conversation shifted to Roger's encounter with Blacky. She said that he came home cut up and bleeding and told her that someone had chased him through back yards and side streets. She knew that I was coming to arrest her son, and couldn't bear the idea of seeing someone putting her son in handcuffs.

I never mentioned that I was still in Oklahoma. After a little more persuasion, I finally got her to agree to convince Roger to talk to me. She told me he wasn't home, but to call back in a couple of hours when he was and she would make sure that he spoke to me.

I made the phone call, not sure if Roger was actually going to be there, or if he was going to burn me and disappear while he still could. A kind "hello" from a male voice on the other end of the line, greeted me. A wave of adrenaline flashed through my body.

"Roger?" I said, trying to remain professional.


"My name is Topher Jones. I am a bail recovery agent and I need to talk to you about the warrant for your arrest in Colorado."

He was decent enough to honor his mother's and my agreement, so I decided not to insult him by beating around the bush. As we spoke, I could tell that Roger was a rather decent individual who really did want to do the right thing. After talking to him a little longer, I got him to agree to turn himself in. Again, the issue of my location was a problem, but only a minor one. I bought him a greyhound ticket to Colorado and he agreed to show up.

The next day, I was contacted by a guy named Jon who was interested in getting into bail recovery. He told me he was willing to volunteer his time, so I asked him to watch Roger and make sure he didn't try to run.

The "bust"

The day of Roger's bus trip came and I called to make sure that he was going to be on time. The phone rang and rang and nobody answered. Panicked thoughts raced through my head. Had he burned me? Did he skip out in the middle of the night? I called Jon who said that he had been sitting on the house all night and hadn't seen anything. I called again. The "ring-ring" through the receiver seemed to take forever.

Finally, Roger answered. He was just getting ready to walk out the door to go to the station. He thanked me for letting him have a day to say goodbye to his family and we hung up.

Roger got on the bus as agreed. I had forwarded his travel itinerary on to Blacky, who decided to meet the bus two stops early to arrest him. And my first case was successfully closed.

A lesson from the case

Since that first case, I have caught 173 fugitives, and the lessons learned with Roger have been with me ever since. In my time as a bail recovery agent, I rarely have to chase a fugitive. I find that talking will usually resolve the situation. I've spoken to Roger several times since his case and he is doing very well. I realized that when dealing with him, I unintentionally offered him a way to change his life. Instead of forcing him to do something. I offered him the opportunity to choose to do the right thing.

I now know that while some use brute force and testosterone-fueled attempts, in order to impose authority that they don't have, calmer heads usually prevail.

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Suzi Woods

Totally awesome story. Your approach will actually help me in my career as a Correctional Officer.

April 10 2015 at 8:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Good story on getting into the profession. I started out being just a bounty hunter and then seen the real money was in posting the bonds. I still hunt but not very often for other bondsman, just my own when I need to, which isn't that often anymore. It is a good profession unfortunately their are alot of bondsman that make a bad name for our profession.
Anthony Sylvester

September 15 2014 at 8:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You have a good story. Getting into the business is rather hard but it is a rewarding career. I started out bounty hunting then seen the money is the bonding side of the business. I still hunt but not very often for other bondsman just my own skips when i need to. Anthony Sylvester

September 15 2014 at 8:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bob Brady

Mr. Jones thanks for the insight on Dog Chapman and KLAN
One thing that you are mistaken is that the show just after him and Beth got married , Dog actually did actually kick in a door to a residence in Waianae Hawaii on the West side of the Island of Oahu and went in , found his bounty and he himself arrested the guy and as luck had it he was in possession of a 9 millimeter weapon in the glove box in his car , it was a Glock .
The KLAN n ow lives in Colorado Springs but he is a convicted felon and contrary to belief there is no limitations as someone put it on MURDER !!! dog is banned in Hawaii , Colorado , Los Angeles and more but for some reason he has done it all as a convicted felon and has gotten away with making millions on bounties where he is banned and the cops look the other way . Bet was just handed a one year jail sentence for racial slurs and using foul language to a female while her son was present sol good byh Beth she will do 4 monyhs of that year.

September 14 2013 at 12:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Bob Brady's comment

I wonder how not only Dog but others like Scott Bernstein that are Convicted Felons are working as bounty hunters. In scotty's case his is for imppersobating Police Officers in Califirnia and New York as well as for illegal guns and Cocaine!!
He also poses as a succesful P.I when he lost his N.Y. License because of his actions. He is a Disgrace to all the profeasionals before and after him. Regulating agencies should do a better job of keeping Clowns like him where they belong.
Google his name if you haven't heard about this "International Wonder" given to the mere mortals by the bounty hunting gods!!! jajajajaja
Scotty is a Freaking Joke!!!

December 27 2014 at 1:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bob Brady

Will :
Sorry guy but \"DOG\" is not licensed as a bail agent nor a bounty hunter . DOG was thrown out of Hawaii for illegal use of force , kicking doors in without law enforcement present and other similar crimes . He no longer lives in Hawaii he lives in Colorado Springs now but that is why there is no new contract with A&E all the shows are reruns and more reruns . Ask me how I know ? my family and I are from Honolulu and have known Duane and Beth for years .
I say ALOHA to DOG and he is never to return to the Isklands THAT FROM THE GOVERNOR .

September 14 2013 at 12:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I need hlep becoming a bounty hunter but im only 18 if anyone can help me let me know plz and thank you

December 23 2012 at 9:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I've just got out of prison for robbing a person who did a home invsion on my house he then call the police on me for kicking his head in and taking some money off him.I put bail bondsmen /recovery people all in the same boat sneaky scum buckets who cant even become police officers so they do a job where they can play 'wanna be' pretend to be a cop should be drowned at birth!!

May 21 2012 at 6:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
4 replies to karl.wild1's comment
Jo Namio

I worked at a bail bond office for six months. While there may be some ethical dedicated people in this business, the office were I worked were NONE of those things. I never saw such crooked nasty things go on in any kind of working environment in my life. The owner and head agent was a rude, obnoxious, lieing bully. I finally called him the ******* that he was and left. If Phoenix is lucky, he will be out of business soon.

May 21 2012 at 12:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jo Namio's comment

You just described a guy named scotty b. (I guess that b stands for Bullshit!!!)

December 27 2014 at 1:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The Professional Organization representing Bail Fugitive Recovery Agents is the National Association of Fugitive Recovery Agents

January 15 2012 at 11:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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