Term used until approximately the mid-20th century
for a private detective
kept on staff by a hotel
or a reasonably large store
. More skilled than a security guard
, closer resembling a modern day chief of security
. Also a close relation of floorwalker
House detectives were responsible for preventing or stopping theft, vandalism and various forms of troublemaking in the hotel, as well as subduing violent guests or visitors and getting rid of nuisances (i.e., prostitutes).
The term frequently appears in 1920s to 1960s crime fiction, often replaced by one of its synonyms. A house detective is also known as house dick, house cop, house copper, house peeper, or a combination of hotel or store with any of the above (hotel detective, etc).