Sunday, December 20, 2015

No Good Deed

So, Dear Reader, you know me... always getting into one form of strife or another.

You'd think I might have learned by now.

Particularly when it comes to damsels in distress.

Especially when it comes to damsels in distress, right?

Yeah. But no.

So the other week I was assigned a new insurance claims investigation that appeared to be fairly straightforward, from my reading of the file notes. I met the insured (let's call her Jane - not her real name)  and took a statement from her in regards to the burglary.

Which is the standard approach.

Turns out the theft was one of a series of burglaries Jane had been the victim of over the past year and while recounting the prior incidents, she broke down in tears. I paused the interview until she could regain her composure.

While 'off the record' Jane talked about how it had been a difficult year with everything that had happened.

So, I had a spur-of-the-moment good idea. Like those ever work out.

As it turned out, I had an outdoor motion-sensitive camera with IR flash for night-time captures sitting in my car. I had recently picked it up from another job and had thrown it in the back until later. So I offered to put it up for Jane in her garden so that she could have some peace of mind in that everyone coming or going to/from her property would be caught on camera.

Jane readily agreed so I went and got the camera out and placed it discreetly in one corner of the garden, with the field of view set so that it should get anyone walking up to the door, or coming around the other side of her house.

Anyway, that seemed to cheer her up a bit so we finished the interview and I also did a brief scene examination, taking photos of the forced entry at the back of her house.

A couple hours after I left the property, I get a call from Jane who is agitated and upset. She tells me that a stranger wearing a black coat and backpack came up to her door enquiring about a vehicle parked on the street with its lights left on. Now Jane's house is down a long driveway behind another property facing the street, so seems a bit unusual that someone would come to the rear property. She felt uncomfortable and he apparently was hanging around.

I said I would come over and check out what was happening.

I get to her house around 10pm, it's dark outside. There is a car parked on the street but the lights are off. I go up to the house and Jane is sitting outside smoking. She's on the phone to someone and has obviously been crying.

I've brought along my laptop to hook up the camera but unfortunately took the wrong USB cable. So I tell Jane that I'll quickly take the camera back to my place and check out what images might have been captured.

Sadly, there wasn't anything like she described, but it was possible that that the way that I had set it up meant that if she opened the door to speak to someone approaching the house, they might not have entered the field of view of the camera.

Or thinking about it later, maybe the man in the black coat just didn't exist...

Anyway, I returned with the camera and told Jane that it appeared not to have taken any pics of the stranger due to placement, so I'd change where it had been facing.

Now something quite central to this tale is that I explicitly told Jane that the loan of the camera was something from me to her and had nothing to do with my work as investigator for the insurer. That was made abundantly clear, or so I thought.

So a couple of weeks later, having finished all my enquiries and while I was writing up my report on how, on balance of probabilities and considering all available evidence, this was a legitimate claim - I learn that Jane has been making all kinds of noises about how the insurer put up a camera outside her home to spy on her and she was now taking it further with the regulatory body that oversees insurance companies.


Then I get a late-night call from Jane's father who is pissed as hell and he demands to know why I had been talking about a particularly well-known gang when speaking with his daughter? At first I had no idea what he was talking about but later recalled that Jane had asked me about a particularly dodgy debt collection company that had certain gang connections, and that had been the extent of the conversation. However, to hear it from Jane's father, apparently I had insinuated that I worked for them or something along those lines.


I offer to meet Jane's father that night to discuss further, which he agrees to, and after explaining a few things in regards to who I am and what I do, and what was said and done in relation to his daughter's case, he calms down considerably and tells me that they have had problems with her over the years and, I'm paraphrasing here, that she is batshit crazy.

No way!

Anyway, the good news is that now he's satisfied that I'm legit, if I have any further problems with Jane, he will help try to sort things out. Which was great because the very next day I'm called up by the instructing agency to explain what the fuck was going on, because Jane was now making all kinds of weird allegations.

After submitting a lengthy report everything is fine, even the insurer commented that I had done nothing more than to try and help their client.

Still, lesson learned. I'm never going to try and help anyone ever again unless they are a paying client.

Philanthropy is dead as far as I am concerned. 

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