Wednesday, December 31, 2014

This is the end

It is almost time to say farewell to 2014, Dear Reader, and embrace the great unknown of the coming new year.

I, for one, will not bother with making any New Year's resolutions, as we all know how they've gone in the past.

Without getting all melancholic and dreary, the past year hasn't exactly been a good one - but it's the past and no need to dwell upon that now. The future beckons brightly to us all.

So, let us raise a glass in silent salute and wish each other all the best.

See you on the other side.    

Monday, December 22, 2014

December. Yeah.

Well, with a few days to go before I officially call it quits for another year, what have we learned this time around?

Not a lot, really. 

2014 hasn't been an exactly 'outstanding' year as far as I've been concerned. More of the same best sums it up. Kind of hoping the same won't be said this time next year, but who really can tell?

Not I.

Anyway, just a couple of updates on several previously mentioned posts:

  1. Awaiting confirmation to go serve documents on the property of FOTLer Matt, of the House of Thompson. The bank, apparantly, is checking that the faxed nonlegal bollocks from Matt doesn't constitute a Trespass Notice (it doesn't, but they want to be sure). 

    However, it clearly won't be happening until January 2015 if it does go ahead.
  2. I couldn't get out of Jury Service, but not through lack of trying. Since my letter requesting to be excused was declined from the Registrar in Capital City, the local Court was unable to countermand their decision. The only recourse was to show up on the Monday and, if called, make an appeal to the Judge. Well, I wasn't called on the Monday but then had to check in every afternoon to find out if I might be required to attend the following day. On Thursday I was officially discharged and will not be called again within the following two years.  
There have been a few other things happening to occupy me this past month. Nothing particularly exciting, however. Maybe a couple of cases regarding insurance fraud investigations worth writing up but probably best to leave it a while.

If I don't post again this year, have a safe and enjoyable Christmas and New Year.

I guess someone has to.  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Oh, so that really *is* a thing

FMOTL 'guru' Robert Menard
Last month, you might recall my tale of dealing with one Matt 'of the House of' Thompson...

Well, it just so happens that his claim to defence is based on an actual movement known as Freemen-on-the-Land.

And they are a bunch of nutters.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

What People Think I Do

Click to Enlarge

It's funny because it's true!

Okay, so I was bored and killed a bit of time with the meme generator.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Going Grey - Aussie Style

Covert as
I'm not even going to comment on this.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I, The Jury

Well, close enough. I have been the 'lucky' recipient, Dear Reader, of a Jury Summons calling me to do my civic duty on 01 December.

Naturally, this isn't exactly working for me.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Art of Going Grey - Part Three: The Vehicle

In this, our third installment on the Art of Going Grey, we'll look at vehicles. Previously, we had talked about greyness pertaining to the individual and the team, respectively.

While there are a few general rules of thumb in regards to greyness and the surveillance vehicle that will always apply, there are also (at least) two very specific rules to consider.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

More adventures in Banjo Country

I had a recent job, Dear Reader, that started off routinely enough but ended up as being anything but.

Kind of the usual story as far as these things go.

So here is what happened.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Art of Going Grey - Part Two: The Team

You might recall that a few weeks ago, Dear Reader, I posted Part One of  this series exploring what the term 'going grey' meant as well as some practical advice on what certainly wasn't grey in regards to personal accoutrement.

This eagerly awaited installment will take that a little further and examine greyness in the context of the team. Part Three will cover vehicles.

Read on.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Psychic Awareness Month

Used without permission
When intrepid skeptic, Mark Tilbrook, took to the streets to encourage people to think about whether self-proclaimed psychics could actually communicate with the departed, he found himself at the end of a "tirade of abuse" from one John Morgan, manager (and husband) of Sally Morgan (pictured left).

Britain's 'best loved' psychic - according to her website.

It seemed that Mark, his real name by the way, had prepared some pamphlets to encourage (in his own words) "... people attending Sally’s show could then decide for themselves if they believed she was genuinely psychic or not."

Noble goal, Mark, noble goal.

John Morgan, on the other hand, allegedly responded by threatening Mark with kidnap and 'disappearance' (ie murder).

John's 'mug' - get it? Seriously, get it. £4 or he'll 'disappear' you...
You can read the article by Mark here. Over at The Guardian, no less.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Update on Seeking Albert

Artist's Impression
Good news, Dear Reader, as I am sure you were waiting with bated breath for developments in my search for Albert.

Well, wonder no more. Albert has been located.

And it appears that he had more than just the one active warrant for his arrest.

So, how did it go down?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Deperately Seeking Albert

Oh no, Dear Reader. It seems that Albert (not his real name) has missed a very important date at Court and a Warrant has been issued for his arrest.

When the Bailiff and Police attended Albert's last known address, one I had originally provided, he had already hastily departed so, once again, I am instructed to locate his current whereabouts.

While I can, and often do, perform miracles, it isn't always easy - particular with one arm tied behind my back.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Information versus Intelligence

Intelligence, Dear Reader, is a sexy word in our industry. Just google "private investigator intelligence" and see how many investigative firms offer some kind of intelligence collection or analysis services as part of their core business.

In general, however, the word is all too likely to be used incorrectly, and most usually interchangeably, with the word information.

But the two are not the same.

So, what is the difference?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Art of Going Grey - Part One

If you are involved in the business of conducting physical surveillance, the phrase going grey should already be in your lexicon.

So what does this mean and how does it apply?

More importantly, what happens when you don't go grey?

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Marketing Ploys: Complimentary Coffee

A long while ago, Dear Reader, (so far so, I can't find the post) I mentioned an idea I had. Actually, to be precise, it was an idea another PI had, but I improved on it and therefore ownership passes to me.

Pretty sure that's how it works.

Anyway, it went something like this.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Cultural Awareness Day: Sushi

Nothing to do with investigations.


Economic Espionage: Piece of Cake

I don't know if you have caught this gem of an 'informative video' in regards to the clear and present danger of economic espionage, Dear Reader, but it's worth a look.

Made in 2012 by the UK's Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI), it's kind of Spooks meets Alias and, despite the noble goal of educating people to real threats, is quite laughable.

Particularly the denouement.

Anyway, for your pleasure, I present 'Piece of Cake'.

I'm just gutted I don't get bags of cash and a Ferrari.  

Time to switch sides?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What's the time? Time for a new watch!

The time has very nearly come, Dear Reader, where I need to retire my trusty old H3 Traser P6500 tritium watch. I can't remember when I purchased it, but it's probably getting on to around 10 years ago.

That's not the reason why the watch needs to be retired. Well, not directly anyway.

No, the tritium has faded to the point where I can't really tell the time all that well in the dark anymore - kind of the whole point in having a radioactive watch in the first place.

To be fair, they did say that you do get about 10 years usage, so that's about right.

So what to get next?

Review:Lawmate PV500 Lite 2

Well, since I received a working camera unit a while ago as replacement, I guess I should probably review this purchase.

The first caveat is that this is the entry-level model of the Lawmate range of DVRs and is relatively inexpensive when compared to their other products.

However, it's certainly a world away from the cheap and cheerful budget covert cams you might find out there. It wouldn't really be all that fair to compare them.

Anyway, I've had a chance to play around with it several times although I have yet to have the opportunity to actually use it in the field, so to speak.

My thoughts thus far?

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Hearts and Minds. And Beards.

For a slight change of pace, Dear Reader, I thought I'd share the witty banter recently had with one Mister Thorpe (not his real name), who seems to have me confused with someone else.

Someone with a beard.

Long story short, Thorpe had been a bit naughty and the local city authorities were seeking to bankrupt him for his part in a dodgy building scandal.

I'd previously served served Court documents on him but he'd not attended and, as these things generally go in your absence, judgement was found against him.

Anyway, a few months later, I had to serve additional documents on the poor guy but it looked like the stress got to him. From my repeated enquiries at his address, Thorpe had temporarily absconded to a nearby rural town and it was not known when he would be returning. However, I managed to get his phone number and thought I'd at least give him a call and try and sort out an amicable arrangement to accept service.

Because that's the kind of guy I am.

I left a message on his voice mail - which clearly stated the phone was Thorpe's - and then a while later received a text message in response. I didn't initially notice I'd received his SMS though, which seems to have upset him a little.

Anyway, here is the SMS conversation.

Monday, August 04, 2014

When Repos Go Bad

Let me regale you with a story, Dear Reader. A story of what could go wrong, going very very wrong indeed. Almost.

As is customary, let me begin by reminding you how much I hate repossessions.

A lot!

And this is why.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Saying "no" to a client

From Pursuit Magazine
There is an excellent post over at Pursuit Magazine about how sometimes saying no to a potential client is what an ethical PI should do.

There's even a nifty flow chart (see left).

Naturally, this prompted me to create my own flow chart detailing the realities of the initial potential client meeting.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Quick Review: Timeline Maker Professional

I've been looking for a suitable programme to create timelines for a while now although, admittedly, not all that hard. I had been somewhat dissatisfied wth previous efforts so finally got around to trying out a range of products to see what meets my requirements.

In the end I decided on Timeline Maker Pro.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Using Evernote as an investigations tool

I don't know about you, Dear Reader, but if I were going to be completely honest, my organisational skills and methodology might be best described as chaotic and haphazard rather than meticulous and detailed.

Hey! We all have our strengths and weaknesses, right?

Anyway, in order to improve on certain areas, I've recently begun to use Evernote as a tool in the investigations process. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Lawmate PV-500 L2 Mini DVR & Covert Camera

I suppose it is kind of funny, Dear Reader, that just earlier today I was browsing for a covert, body-worn, camera and DVR system.

That's not the funny part, however.

So, while checking out hot deals at Amazon, I accidently pressed the '1-click ordering' link while looking for further product information on Lawmate's PV-500 Lite 2 DVR.

That is the funny part.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Failure in exercising all due reasonable care or victim-blaming?

I may run the risk of courting some controversy, Dear Reader, but I thought I might engender a discussion on a topic that tends to invite commentary aimed at stifling debate.

Debate, you see, only continues the culture of blaming the victim. Or so I have been told.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

More Late-Night Ideas...

Whenever I get depressed, which is less often than you probably assume, I try to think up some clever scheme which, if successful, would revolutionise the way I do business.

Or at least that's what I keep telling myself.

Call me an idealist at heart, but keeping in line with my 2013 experiment of "Pay What You Think The Job Is Worth" comes this great(?) idea of institutionalising fairness in billing practices.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

So, more of the same it is!

Heard back today in regards to my recent job application. It seems I was not quite the droid they were looking for.

Not entirely sure whether I should be relieved or disappointed so I'll err on side of caution and take it as a personal affront.


But I'm not one to hold a grudge...

Thursday, July 03, 2014

A new chapter or just more of the same?

I've been keeping secrets from you, Dear Reader. Perhaps my time as a plucky but downtrodden Private Investigator is coming to a close.

You see, I have applied for an investigative position with a certain governmental agency (that shall remain unnamed) and I have made the short list. One of three.

It's not all beer and skittles, however. There is still the question of whether I make it to the very-short-list-of-two and score a trip to this nation's capital for a personal interview with the Chief.

And so far the silence has been deafening.

But what will this all mean?

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Bell Tolls For Thee, Bernie Patton

You might recall, Dear Reader, our earlier posts on that irascible, but ever-lovable, rogue, Bernie Patton.

Finally, there seems to be some interest shown from the local constabulary. A plucky detective has been slowly compiling a file on Bernie's antics over the past nine months and now wants to meet up to discuss.

I'm certainly willing to provide as much information as I have to assist and am hoping that Bernie's days as a free man are numbered.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

The Unlikely Story of the Unluckiest Boy in the Whole Wide World

I had the rare pleasure, Dear Reader, of recently investigating several claims made by one Toby Hardy* who, if you were to believe the version of events as depicted by him, would have to be the Unluckiest Boy in the Whole Wide World.

If only he could be believed.

His story goes like this...

Quick Review: Anker Portable External Battery

**This review has changed since originally posted 03 April. See below**

Just a quick post in regards to a recent purchase; the Anker 2nd generation Astro 6000mAh portable external battery (pictured left).

While I have a car charger usually with me in the vehicle, sometimes you might need to quickly charge your phone (or other device) while out in the field and this is where this particular product comes in handy.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Yes, yes, yes...! Well, actually, no.

With the long history of private investigators in print, movies and TV, you think it would be pretty hard to find someone who didn't really have some kind of idea of what we actually do, right?

Well, turns out there are still some people without a clue.

Figuratively and quite literally. 

The following is an actual* email from one such individual...

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

5 'must-have' items to keep in your car

Well, Dear Reader, I thought I would post some quick recommendations as to what handy items I routinely keep in my vehicle for those 'just in case' moments.

And since everyone loves lists, here are my Top 5.

No candy though!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Review: Carswell Triform Private Security Evidence Notebook

Notebook rear
Well, I have to say that the Canadians were pretty quick in sending me my order - it arrived in a matter of days. No doubt helped by the rather steep shipping costs.

Oh well.

Anyway, now that I've had a chance to put one to the use, what are my thoughts?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Investigative Interviewing: The Anonymous PI Method Part Three - After The Interview

As promised, Dear Reader, here is the final chapter on Investigative Interviewing practices as generally performed by me. If you have just found this post, you can read the preceding parts one and two.  This post is, thankfully, a bit shorter.

So you've completed the initial interview. Now what?

Friday, May 09, 2014

Tools for burning date/time to video footage

So, Dear Reader, yesterday I mentioned the recent purchase of the Panasonic HC-V250 camcorder I picked up for a surveillance job and you might recall one of my gripes was the lack of being able to stamp the date and time directly onto the footage.

Well, luckily for me, and possibly you, there are a number of options out there for nifty tools to do this, post-shooting. Yeah, I know, technically this is altering the original video (except that it isn't as the original footage isn't changed) and you should be supplying your Client with the original SD card as well as the DVD you created anyway.

Here are three such tools...

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Quick Review: Panasonic HC-V250 Camcorder

Hello again, Dear Reader. I just thought I would post a quick review of a piece of kit I recently purchased since I've had a few days to play around with various settings and get to grips with functionality etc.

Basically, a job came up where video footage is sought as evidence and, believe it or not, this really is the first time I've actually needed a video camera during surveillance.

Which is a little embarrassing because I didn't have one.

True story!

However, I did some quick internet research as to what was available at the usual large retailers and settled on the Panasonic HC-V250.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Quest for the Perfect Evidentiary Notebook

Well, I may have finally found what had been previously eluding me: the perfect (or at least near enough) evidentiary notebook for investigatory purposes.

Really, it doesn't take much to fit the bill, yet it is still difficult enough to find a brand of notebook that has all of the required features:

  1. Individually-numbered pages
  2. Pages sewn into binding
  3. Printed date/time/keyword column
And, naturally, I have a preference for the reporter-style layout. Well, I may be able to cease my search as I have recently found the Triform Private Security Evidence Notebook from Canadian publisher, Carswell. 

The notebooks have a cardboard cover but you can purchase more robust outer cases in leather, vinyl or cordura.

Check out the Triform page with the various notebooks and accessories. And, yes, they do ship internationally (just don't use their online ordering though as the signup expects you to be in a Canadian state).

I've placed an order and will post a review as soon as I am in receipt.   

Fist fights and death threats

Well, I guess it had to happen one day, Dear Reader. Finally I had a job go slightly pear-shaped, with a wee bit of fisticuffs and some threats of a stabbing.

Actually, it was far less exciting than it sounds and more of a tragi-comic farce being played out.

And it ended fairly much as you would expect.

It went like this...

Thursday, April 03, 2014

App Review: Zello PTT App

Recently I became aware of a nifty-sounding application for most phones that essentially turned them into the equivalent of push-to-talk (PTT) radios.

Now, while I have a couple of Motorola MTP-850s the limitation is that I very literally only have a couple: ie TWO. Sometimes, albeit rarely, I work with more than one other investigator and conducting a last-minute, unplanned, three vehicle mobile surveillance operation with only cellphone communications is just asking for trouble.

Which, incidentally, is exactly what happened but that's a story for another time.  

Enter the (mostly) free-to-use app Zello.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Investigative Interviewing: The Anonymous PI Method Part Two - Conducting The Interview

Following on from Part One where we looked at preparations beforehand, this installment focuses on conducting the actual interview itself.

However, it's not just a matter of rocking up and asking the tough questions, no. There are still a number of factors to carefully take into account as well as setting the stage for the questioning.

Bear in mind this is a brief overview of the interview process. Perhaps in the future I might look at specific areas in greater detail.

So let us begin.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Will Work For Free. Kind Of.

I'm not the sort of person, Dear Reader, that you would probably ever accuse of being 'community spirited' but I have been toying with the notion of offering some form of pro bono investigative services for a while now.

What's the catch, you ask?

Well, here's my half-formed idea...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Another Day, Another Rejection

Yeah, it's another one of those moments.

So the job advert sounded ideal. A part-time contract investigator was sought locally for a PI firm and as I already act as a part-time contract investigator for a number of out-of-town firms, what could possibly go wrong this time?

It kind of played out in three short sentences.

Them: Are you ex-police?
Me: Well, no, but I have been doing this for 9 years now and...
Them: Not interested. Sorry.
Oh, they tried to explain that this wasn't their own policy but it was the expectation of their clients that investigators working on their behalf were ex-police. 

Naturally, it's all bollocks.

Since when do clients stipulate as to the backgrounds of investigators working on their particular files? I've never heard of such a thing and, certainly, while I have been asked (on the very odd occasion) if I was ex-police by a client, no-one has ever taken their case elsewhere because I wasn't.

This makes me simultaneously sad and angry because my skills and experience count for absolutely nothing, and never will, in this regard.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Investigative Interviewing: The Anonymous PI Method Part One - Before The Interview

As Polonius said in Hamlet (Act 2, Scene 2) "Though this be madness, yet there is method in ’t."

I guess it's time that I touched upon the practical aspects of conducting an interview - or at least the way that I have been doing them for the past few years.

This is quite a lengthy topic so for sake of sanity, yours and mine, I'll break it down into several smaller posts over the next few weeks. And, to begin, we'll look at what preparatory steps should be taken prior to conducting any investigative interview.

However, there is one other matter to clarify first.


Friday, March 07, 2014

Review: Find Out Anything From Anyone, Anytime

I recently picked up a copy of Find Out Anything From Anyone, Anytime: Secrets of Calculated Questioning From a Veteran Interrogator by James Pyle and Maryann Karinch. 

That's quite a promise there, James, but can you deliver?

Well, let's start out by looking at what this book is, and what it isn't.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

William S. Burroughs, Private Dick?

"The simplest questions are the most difficult."

So, I never really paid much attention earlier (and who reads biographies anyway?) but I recently became aware from a post on The Thrilling Detective Blog that that old father of the Beat movement, William Burroughs, was briefly a private detective.

Very briefly.

I guess the role would be more that of a store detective rather than a private investigator, but a bit of artistic licence is entirely appropriate.

So with that in mind, here is some advice from Burroughs himself.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Handy hints if contemplating a career in crime

I sometimes despair of the quality, the calibre, of our up-and-coming young criminals, Dear Reader.

Case in point, just the other day I was doing one of those jobs I really hate doing but occasionally it helps pay the bills: repossessions.

And it wasn't a vehicular repo, which generally go smoothly, but household chattels.

Which generally don't.

And this wasn't an exception.