In each installment of the Working Life series, a local worker describes what his or her job is like. The stories are taken directly from interviews and told in the first person with minimal or no editing of the subjects' natural speech patterns.
I've always been in accounting and computers. I got into this business back in April of '92, so a little over 20 years ago. As far as why, I've just always been interested in the investigative field, and I didn't really want to be a lawyer, didn't want to be a cop. I got tired of getting laid off when companies made cutbacks or layoffs.
You need a good camcorder and a good covert camera to film inside bars and restaurants. We've got equipment that's motion-activated so we see when people are coming and going from a house. And then you need a good surveillance vehicle, something that's inconspicuous with tinted windows. And nowadays with the gas prices, you want to try to get something with decent gas mileage.
I do anywhere from domestic, meaning adultery and child custody cases, to worker's compensation — following people around with "bad backs" to document that they're able to work — to criminal cases. We do some work for the public defender interviewing witnesses in criminal cases, serving papers, a little bit of everything. With infidelity cases, what we try to show is what they consider inclination and opportunity. Inclination meaning we get some public displays of affection, PDAs, as we call it. And then an opportunity: You've got to have a place, either him in her house or her in his house or at a hotel, wherever. You know, every case is different, so wherever opportunity hits. What we try to show is what they call implied adultery.
We use GPS tracking devices in a lot of cases. Any case I can use a GPS tracking device on, I recommend it. It's just a much more efficient way to work a case. So usually, if we can get a tracking device on the person's car, we can watch that tracker and see when it's in a suspicious area, and then if we check things out, that kind of leads us to them. We can tell if you're at Walmart or a hotel. They're live trackers, so we know exactly where a person is within about two feet of accuracy.
We can use a tracking device on anybody's car as long as we're not tampering with it — which we don't, because they're magnetic mounts — and as long as we're not trespassing. We don't have any more rights than anybody else does; it's hard to get information. We're licensed to gather information, so if we're stopped, we've got our IDs on us.
We're not trespassing or breaking in windows. It's not TV. Everybody thinks it's Magnum, P.I., riding around in a Ferrari or something. It takes a special person to do this type of work, because a lot of it's sitting in a vehicle 8, 10, 12 hours waiting for a minute's worth of activity. So once I'm out in the field, especially in the summer when it's 100 degrees out, the attitude kind of changes a little bit. I mean, it's interesting work. I'm not a 9-to-5 person. It just takes a certain personality to do this type of work.