Trigger object banks are groups of objects, contextually relevant to an environment, that are left unattended in the hopes that something might interact with them and that interaction can be captured as evidence. This is a common practice among paranormal investigators and PIM is no exception. When applied with scientific rigor, many different devices capturing data, and strong references trigger objects can yield great evidence.

A trigger object bank in the basement of Bobby Mackey's Music World
A trigger object bank in the basement of Bobby Mackey’s Music World

It is believed that spirits are sometimes able to interact with and manipulate objects, we captured evidence of this in an early investigation of a private residence in Amherst, Wisconsin. We were able to catch video from one of our stationary cameras of a toy inside of a bucket being pulled down, this is believed to be paranormal in nature.

Relevance of objects

We’ve mentioned that the items in the banks should be relevant, but what does that mean? It refers to items that an entity might be interested in, the simplest example would be laying out toys in a school. We know that children are usually in a school and children generally enjoy toys. Therefore, toys would have good potential to get any spirits of children active in a school.

A more complex example might include something like a gambling ring in an old speakeasy. We can make some assumptions, including alcohol, cigarettes and cards, but there may be a specific entity with the space that was stabbed, in which case we would put a knife on the table as well. This adds a level of specification to the object banks.

Examples of the items we generally include (when relevant) in our trigger objects banks are:

  • Dice
  • Cards
  • Alcohol
  • Toy cars
  • Balls
  • Army Men
  • Dolls
  • Bibles
  • Holy Relics

Often included is a touch flashlight, a light that is activated by touching a panel extremely gently which completes a circuit and turns the light on. The touch flashlight is used in lieu of a tactic, often used by other investigation teams, that involves a flashlight that has had the battery compartment or on/off switch manipulated, allowing the slightest touch to cause the flashlight to turn on (see video included on our tough flashlight page to learn more).

How can we be sure something has moved?

When setting up a trigger object bank, our investigators first set up a camera fixed to a tripod with the area in view and begin recording. At this point a sheet of graph paper is laid down, and the contextually selected objects are placed on the sheet (sometimes multiple sheets are used, based on the size of the objects being used). If necessary, the camera’s view may be adjusted at this point to have all items in the bank in view. The investigators then take an image of the object bank for reference, and the camera is left to run throughout the investigation, this footage is later reviewed for any movement.

Other environmental factors

Alongside our trigger object banks are the same types of scientific measuring devices that we use throughout building, and even on our own bodies. These tools often include EMF meters, EM pumps and environmental dataloggers – we have these standing by and constantly reading to allow us to capture any significant fluctuation many different environment factors. This becomes extremely important if something should move during the course of our investigation, and we are unable to find a logical reason for it to have. We can reference the data from our devices at the time of incident and correlate it to that event.

Does the relation of an item moving on camera while the EMF meter reads a spike mean the spirit of a deceased person played with a toy on the table? Not necessarily, but it is evidence of something occurring nonetheless.

A person as a trigger object

Although often elaborate and somewhat time consuming, PIM has performed a number of exercises in using people as trigger objects during investigations. This is achieved by attempting to perfectly replicate a situation that would have occurred in an environment. For example, if we are investigating an asylum, we may put an investigator into a straight jacket and walk them through the build – the idea is to elicit a reaction from any spirit who may be familiar with this event in reference to their time in the asylum.


We, of course, keep Gravy in a straight jacket during most investigations for his own protection.

This video was from a Facebook Live event that was hosted during an investigation at Edinburgh Manor. In it our investigators Noah and Marilsa are dressed as medical staff, walking a restrained Gravy through the building and introducing him to patients whose names are public record. Admittedly, this looks a bit goofy to an outside observer, but try to put yourself in the position of a person who was living in the asylum. It might make a bit more sense and cause some sort of reaction in them, allowing us to capture evidence.

Obviously, even though not all instances of this involve restraints, these sorts of sessions are completely by the participant’s volition and they are conducted safely so that no one is harmed while carrying out evidence gathering. Our investigators’ safety is always paramount, and guests on investigations would never be asked to participate in this sort of exercise.

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