Tales From a Private Detective: Part 1
The weirdest job I ever had is surely being a private investigator. Waking up and coming home at abrupt hours, traveling around the U.S, sitting bored for hours in my car but quickly transitioning to exciting covert pursuits, it was all around a stressful but interesting experience that’s left me with countless unbelievable stories. When anyone hears I used to be one, the first thing they ask is “Like the Cheaters guy? The guy with the turtleneck who chased down cheating spouses on camera?’” No. That’s a very small cross-section of what PI’s do, and I handled mostly fraud investigations and surveillance for corporate vendors. But it wasn’t any less dramatic. I am bringing you my first story in a series, so please prepare the popcorn!
It was summer and I was a few weeks on the job, eager to deliver results. I was to conduct surveillance on a claimant suspected of insurance fraud. According to my open source research, they operated an ice cream shop in town. I drove over to the site, immediately identifying the suspect and began surveillance. It was a bit hard to see through the windows, so I thought I would go in to get into the ice cream parlor to get a better view (and I love ice cream).
Using my phone and various covert devices, I began to document the person in question as they not only began lifting very heavy items contrary to their limitations indicated in their fraud claim, but they also began discussing their fraud case! The footage was incredibly close and clear, I decided I was staying around. But it’s a bit unconventional to stay in an ice cream for more then ten minutes, with most people taking their ice cream out, or eating it quickly. I ignored this, and remained in there, purchasing several helpings of ice cream to keep getting evidence. I ended up staying nearly two hours and got sick as a dog from all the ice cream to keep the action going. Suddenly though, I felt like I had come under suspicion after a few icy glares and it was time to pull the plug. I went to the restroom and intended to leave right after when I was accosted leaving the washroom door. I was suddenly being accused of secretly filming and that I would need to turn over my phone. I acted surprised and disgusted with the accusations, stormed out of there, an upset customer.
I ran to the door, quickly escaping to a nearby neighborhood and then a strip mall. As I gained my breathe back after sprinting, I thought of how to proceed. I went to a nearby clothing store and purchased a whole new wardrobe so I could look different, after all I still needed to get my car that was still parked by the ice cream shop! As I approached my car in my new clothes, I sneakily entered my car, turned the ignition, and proceeded to back up when a vehicle screeched behind my car to prevent me from leaving. The ice cream shop owner stormed out of the car and proceeded to yell at me, screaming obscenities and issuing death threats for what seemed like a year. I took out my camcorder and started filming, which made them run and hide somewhere behind my car eventually, but I was still blocked from leaving.
The police arrived, and I gave them the rundown of how I am actively conducting an investigation. They didn’t believe me even after giving them all my credentials. They told me to hold tight. Upon returning, they informed me that I was accused of stealing money from the tip jar inside of the ice cream shop. The owner issued the accusation and the other employees confirmed that I had stole the money. I immediately denied but the police pressed on that I should come clean about the theft. I continued to express my uproar of the accusations and fervently denied, insisting they check the cameras in the ice cream shop or check my person for the stolen funds. They told me to hold tight, at which point I called my manager and urged them to speak to the police on my behalf. After they spoke to my manager, the stance had not changed and they still pressured for me to confess. Again, they went back into the ice cream shop to continue gathering information.
One of the dozen officers who arrived I had known personally, and he assured me that the owner was a known fraudster that came from a family of crime, and that I should not freak out. But the other officers had treated me with such hostility, I was pretty sure I was about to be put into the slammer, at least for the night.
30 minutes later, the police sergeant came in his vehicle and told me to roll down the windows. I poked my head out and the sergeant hollered, “Get the f*ck out of here right now.” The suspect began crying in frustration, seeing that their false claims had not stuck. I backed out and left immediately, going home to consume several beers as I processed the trauma. I almost quit that day, but as inebriation set in, I came to the conclusion that I was hungry for more.