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Several detectives on TV, such as Dick Tracey, have made the profession look exciting. They track criminals using sneaky methods and tend to solve the case with this twist. You may hear them referred to as gumshoes. But what exactly is a gumshoe and why do they refer to detectives as them? PATRIOT Backgrounds and Investigations, serving Davie, FL, and the nearby region, has the answer. Plus, we can offer surveillance services, criminal investigations, and background checks. 

Why Were They Called Gumshoes?

To be a detective, a person must be sly and stealthy. Therefore, even to this day, a detective has to wear shoes that allow them to walk around undetected. By today’s standards, a detective needs to wear lace-up shoes because loafers could easily slide off and get the individual caught. 


In the 1800s, though, private eyes wore gumshoes, which were shoes that had a rubber sole. This allowed them to get around easily without making much noise. 


What Exactly Are Gumshoes

In the 19th century, certain shoes were known as gumshoes. These shoes consisted of gum rubber, which is a natural rubber. This particular rubber came from trees that grew on plantations, initially, although these rubber trees eventually spread. 


Specifically, the rubber came from the Hevea brasiliensis, and originally, these trees came from the tropics on hemispheres of the world. These trees spread throughout the world whenever the British and French ventured to South America. 


The reason gumshoes were so popular was because the rubber is elastic and can stretch and absorb force. Therefore, the rubbers allowed those who wore them to sneak around while making little noise. 


Moreover, these rubber shoes were precursors to today’s sneakers. 


History of Gumshoes

When the word “gumshoe” first arose, it had nothing to do with detectives. It was actually a word coined to mean to sneak around quietly like a person was wearing these shoes. In other words, this term was used for rubbers, thief catchers, and any person that walked around sneakily. 


One record of the term “gumshoe worker” or “gumshoe man” being used to mean thief was with the fictional story, “More Ex-Tank Tales.” This story was published by Clarence Louis Cullen in 1902. It mentioned, “I thought you were a daylight gum-shoer for a minute,” which meant a daytime thief. 


The term gumshoe even has significance in the military, where intelligence officers or spies are known as gumshoes.  


Other Words for Gumshoes 

While being a gumshoe in today’s world consists of performing a wide array of duties, from surveillance services, missing persons investigations, background checks, fingerprinting to drug screening, and more, gumshoes currently go by many different names:

  • Private investigators
  • Detectives
  • Private eyes
  • Sleuths
  • Sherlock
  • Snoop
  • PI
  • Dick 
  • Informer
  • Flatfoot


It doesn’t matter what you choose to call a private investigator. You can refer to them as a PI, sleuth, or detective. A private investigator in Davie, FL, can perform a variety of services, such as background checks, fingerprinting, missing persons investigations, and more. 


Contact PATRIOT Backgrounds and Private Investigations, serving Davie, FL, and the nearby region, if you’re interested in our “gumshoe” service. Call us at 954-372-1103 today. You may also use our confidential online form