Monday, May 31, 2010

Working in Bad Weather

"It was a dark and stormy night, the rain fell in torrents..."

Apart from being a literary cliche, it also perfectly describes the conditions over the past few days which has had an adverse effect on several investigations.

It's difficult to report on activity when you can't actually see anything because of the rain...

To be fair, I'm not talking about a bit of light drizzle, but the kind that comes down so hard that even the wipers on full have problems clearing the windscreen.

The first case was a domestic enquiry where I was required to stake out the offices of a particular woman with whom my client's husband was suspected of having a liaison. That night he told his wife that he was going out for a walk (in that weather?) but she had received an anonymous tip that he would be meeting his paramour at her office instead.

Unfortunately, I was not given sufficient time to prepare for the surveillance - in fact I was given no warning at all apart from a phone call asking me to go straight out to the office as her husband had just left the house. Fine, I can adapt to changing circumstances.

The office is located in an industrial park and is inconveniently located in such a manner that there is no good command position to set up an OP that is not in danger of being compromised either by the target of surveillance, or by other parties in the area.

Adapt, adapt, adapt. I chose another location that I hoped gave me a good command of all the entrances and exits to the area in which the office was located so I could at least determine who was coming and going, but did not give me a line of sight to the office itself.

Now with the rain bucketing down and daylight having effectively ended 30 minutes ago, the good news was that I stood a very good chance of remaining unnoticed. The bad news was that could also go both ways. While I could see the vehicles entering or departing, I could not make out much by way of details. I had been provided a description of the husbands vehicle and registration, as well as a fairly good description of the husband and I also had a photograph, gleaned from her company website, of the woman he was supposedly seeing. Problem was that there was little chance of actually confirming their identities unless they were standing right next to me, and that was unlikely.

Approximately 30 minutes later a vehicle matching the general description of the husband's arrived on location. Actually, it parked less than 5 metres in front of my position and the driver remained inside. A tree blocked my line of sight so that I could not actually see the driver directly but, similarly, the driver could not see me either.

Another 10 minutes pass and a vehicle with the company logo of the suspected woman's business leaves the area. Then another 20 minutes before a similar vehicle arrives at which point the vehicle in front of me starts up and follows the just-arrived vehicle into the parking area. Luckily, there had also been a lull in the rain and now I could make out the registration and confirmed that it was indeed the husband's while the other vehicle's registration came back as belonging to a company that the woman in question owned.

Unfortunately, they drove into an unlit area and I could not identify either the male or female leaving their vehicles, nor could I conclusively determine where they went and what they were up to. All I know is that both vehicles left around an hour later.

I explained to my client that all I had conclusively determined was that her husband's vehicle (driven by a male) was at the scene at around the time the husband was supposedly some 15km away. And that the driver of his vehicle had rendezvoused with someone driving a company vehicle belonging to the suspected woman. At no time did I actually see the husband or the woman, an important caveat. However, that was enough for my client to confront her husband even though I felt all I had was circumstantial at best.

The second case is more interesting but is ongoing, so more on that later. 

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