The hunt is on: Today's bounty hunters rely on technology more than muscle

For today's bounty hunters, muscles are optional and technology is in.
By Tom Dunkel
Sunday, February 6, 2011

It was another of David Jenny's dreams.

He had pictured himself chasing somebody through a shopping mall or going airborne off a cliff in his car. This time, he was walking down a deserted alley. Up ahead, something glimmered in the moonlight: a sports motorcycle parked outside a building. Riderless. Beckoning.

A psychiatrist might say that the sleek bike symbolized carefree youth, that Jenny, 28, subconsciously yearned to kick-start the mother and roar off, to escape the burdens and responsibilities that lie waiting around the dead man's curve of middle age.

Nope. His dream simply meant Jenny tends to remain on the job even while sleeping.

He's a professional bounty hunter (known in polite society as a "bail enforcement agent"), one of two on staff at Freedom Bail Bonding in Fairfax.

The recession hasn't hurt business at Freedom, which posts pre-trial bonds for about 5,000 defendants a year, representing liabilities in excess of $20 million.

In the fall of 2009, a Freedom employee wrote a $10,000 bond on behalf of Michael Rehak, a 30-something truck driver from Springfield with a passion for motorcycles. On June 21, state police had clocked him traveling 145 mph on Virginia's Interstate 295. A chase ensued, crossing from Henrico County into Hanover County. Rehak won -- until he shot onto Interstate 95 and lost control of his black 2005 Suzuki on an exit ramp. Minor injuries. Major legal problems.

Hanover authorities charged him with reckless driving and "felony eluding." They released Rehak on his own recognizance, but he never showed up for his October preliminary hearing in Hanover County District Court. An arrest warrant subsequently was issued. Soon Fairfax County police came knocking on the door of Rehak's Springfield apartment. He not only refused to come out, he denied he was Michael Rehak. Bad idea.

Fairfax police added another charge of "false identity" and hauled him off to county jail. That's where Rehak spotted a Freedom Bail Bonding business card pinned to a wall. A day later, Rehak walked out of jail, thanks to Freedom covering his $10,000 bail.

Unfortunately, he kept walking.

In early December, Rehak blew off a second preliminary hearing scheduled in Hanover County. On Dec. 16, he failed to appear in Fairfax County District Court on the secondary false-identity charge. By that point, Michael Ranier Rehak officially had become a bail jumper. Another warrant was issued for his arrest. Freedom Bail Bonding found itself on the hook for the entire $10,000 bond -- unless Rehak could be apprehended and brought before the court within the standard six-month grace period allowed for "skips," as they're called in the bounty hunting trade.

David Jenny went to the Fairfax County courthouse on Dec. 16. It's only a block from the offices of Freedom Bail Bonding. He assumed Rehak wouldn't be there, since he'd already ducked his prior court date in Hanover. However, it was Jenny's job to find him, and he knew the Fairfax County police officer who had arrested Rehak would show up for the hearing. Jenny wanted to find out if the officer had a recent photo of the suspect (she did) or any information pertaining to his whereabouts (she didn't).

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