By John Balson @jjbalson
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Videographer: JP Steele
Producer / director : John Balson
Edit Producer: James Thorne
Editor: James Thorne
27-year-old Alex and boyfriend Jon Dalman, 52, now make a living as ‘bail recovery agents’ tracking fugitives across America, including dangerous members of the Mexican cartel.
They have been attacked by dogs and even shot at but that hasn’t stopped them posting their takedowns online - where they are fast becoming social media stars.
The couple met at a martial arts class and quickly realised Alex’s social-media savvy would pair perfectly with Jon’s combat experience.
Alex told Barcroft TV: “I always wanted an exciting job. Even when I was a kid I dreamed of being a detective or a spy - and bounty hunting has a component of both.
“It’s not all kicking down doors. You have to be smart to do this job. It's more a battle of wits with the defendant and trying to outsmart them.
“We go after anyone who misses court on a case and you can miss court on a DUI, you can miss court on a traffic ticket, you can miss court on trafficking methamphetamine. There’s a huge range.
“It’s definitely a feast or famine type of job. We only get paid if we catch people and that can be really stressful. One week it’s champagne and the next week, nothing.”
She often deploys more ’millennial skills’ to track defendants online - but that doesn't mean she's afraid to get her hands dirty during the takedowns.
“Probably the tool that I use most often when I am in someone’s backyard is the shotgun," said Alex, who stands 5ft 4in.
“It gives me more of an imposing kind of image if someone looks out the backdoor. We can also run beanbag rounds in it - which gives me a less lethal option.”
Jon and Alex are based out of Hall County, Georgia - known as ‘Hell County’ to some, Jon says, because of its higher than average crime rate - and have now worked more than 350 cases stretching across the USA.
They are hired by bail bondsman to track fugitives who have skipped bail and bring them back to court so the bond can be recovered.
The bounty hunter then collects a percentage of the bond - usually around 10 per cent - which can range from thousands up to and exceeding $1million.
Alex and Jon’s files often takes them into rough neighbourhoods, where open-air drug dealing, prostitution and human trafficking are rife.
Without police backup, they often have to arm themselves with shotguns, pistols, axes, knives, tasers and pepper spray, as well as wearing body armour.
Jon, 52, who is originally from California, said: “Our defendants range from misdemeanour traffic tickets and will ramp up all the way to drug trafficking cartel members and everything in between.
“People can act nuts in their house. They're protecting their castle - and I understand that - but it can get pretty wild.
“I have had knives pulled on me, I have been shot at, I have had a guy try to run me over with his car, dog bites, you name it.
“But if you want to be good at this job, you've got to be willing to just get kicked in the b**** over and over and over.
“You have to be resilient. You got to drive for hours, sit outside a terrible motel and then possibly drive home empty-handed - but then come out again the next day and the next day and then bang, Thursday, you get your guy.”
He added: “I do feel badly for a lot of the people we meet. Our folks come from marginalized or already disenfranchised populations. But I like to look at it in the bigger picture that you’re kind of helping these people turn their lives around.”
Alex, who is the eldest of five girls, first teamed up with Jon after meeting him at a martial arts class.
The self-confessed 'high-school nerd' had wanted to be a bounty hunter from the age of 14 after being inspired by the Keira Knightley film Domino about 90s British bounty hunter, Domino Harvey.
She said: “I grew up in Georgia in kind of a traditional Southern home. I wanted to be a bounty hunter from the age of 14 but it seemed like a movie job and not an actual career path so right out of high school I became a freelance photographer.
“Then when I was 20 years old I started looking into investigations work and I met Jon at a Krav Maga class.”
They now run a successful investigations and recovery agency named Fenrir Recovery, after the monstrous wolf from Norse mythology.
However, as a woman in a male dominated environment, Alex says she has to work twice as hard to gain respect as well as deal with the worries of her family.
”It’s definitely difficult to be a woman in this industry. I am treated differently from Jon and both of us notice that. I have to work harder to be perceived as being as capable as Jon.
“I’m also close to my parents and sisters and they love that I'm working a job that I love. It makes them happy that I'm happy - but I'm sure they have their moments of worrying about us.”
And despite living and working with her boyfriend, she says they make it work by giving each other space and being comfortable in silence for long periods.
Alex said: “We’re around each other all the time. We share a household, we work together. There’s not very often when we’re not around each other.
"But we make it work. People are shocked at how little we get tired of each other."
Jon, who has a 13-year-old son from a previous relationship, spent time in the army before studying special education and American literature at college.
He also worked in mental health care, emergency medical care and private security. He credits his varied background with his ability to resolve most bonds without physical conflict.
He came into bounty hunting during a chance encounter with a bondsman and found his background was a perfect fit.
He said: “I’d always heard of bounty hunting but I didn’t know if it was something that really even existed anymore, I thought it was like just in the Wild Wild West.
“The first time I saw the bondsman he gave me a stack of files - and I didn’t know what the hell I was doing - but I loved it. I loved it right away.”
With about 20-30 active cases at any time the couple are used to working 18-hour days on investigations but still have time to run successful social media accounts, with 80,000 followers on Instagram alone, a weekly podcast and their own branded merchandise.
However, Bail legislation has slowly been shifting - with states including Kentucky and Oregon banning commercial bail bonds - and Alex and Jon fear they be among the last of the bounty hunters.
Jon said: “I think the bail industry is going under some real changes in the United States. Money bail, for-profit bail, I think these will go away in the next four to five years, maybe a little bit longer in some states.
“But we're also private investigators so I think when this job runs its course we will switch over and do that.
“I hope it does last - I sure like it. It's a good time. It suits my skill set. But I think the end is coming.”
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