Usually things are exactly as they appear to be, but in private investigations, that rule-of-thumb that may conceal a devious truth!
In this week’s video I discuss three examples from the real-world.
Case Study 1:
Imagen you’re working as a Loss Prevention Officer (or Asset Protection Agent – same thing) protecting a store form shoplifters, credit card fraud, theft by deception, check fraud and Organized Retail Crime (ORC) of all sorts.
You see a clean-cut man walk in at lunch time. He’s neat in appearance, has on a white button down shirt, a tie, slacks and nice dress shoes. If a sales associate see this guy walk in they may think he’s a business man there on his lunch break to make a purchase. Maybe something for his wife. Maybe not, but either way, he just looks exactly like a good customer. However…
Your well trained eye knows this guy could easily walk into the Men’s Department, put on an expensive sports coat or jacket and walk out the door. No need to conceal merchandise. No worries about walking out with a bag to be checked. No awkward lump of stolen goods under his clothes. Not a bad plan actually!
So how can you tell the difference between the legitimate customer and the clever, well-prepared thief?
You need to look at the big picture. Look at the man “in context”. Does he go to the Men’s Department? Does he walk along the aisles to where he needs to go or does he cut through the racks of clothing to the back wall and work his way (more or less out of sight) to the jackets? Is he looking around nervously? Is he trying to avoid the sales associates?
These other indicators based on his behavior (his actions!) will give you a much more accurate measure of his intentions than a quick look at how he’s dressed.
This is important because things are not always how they appear.
Case Study 2:
You’re on surveillance and you see a guy walking down the street with a limp. Anyone else who sees this simply sees a man with an injury or a handicap. However…
You may see this as a rouse. You know that bad guys have been know to conceal a shotgun down the leg of their pants. (It happens WAY more often than most people might imagine!)
How can you tell the difference between the decent, tax paying citizen and a guy illegally carrying a concealed weapon?
Note to all gun nuts: Go crazy in the comments section telling me how “just because its hidden down his pants” that it’s not necessarily illegal. I know that, but you’ll feel better typing out a rant in all caps and I’ll still love you. 🙂
The important thing is to understand… You need to evaluate if a firearm is in play or not. How do you do this? Look at the person in the larger context.
Is he walking with a determined purpose or just meandering? Is he going toward a particular group of people? Is ha walking toward a store? Is he messing around with his pants (tying to gain access to the weapon)? Is he trying to conceal his face in any way? These are questions you need to ask yourself (almost instinctively – I would suggest) because things are not always as they appear.
Case Study 3:
While on surveillance, you see a street person sit down on a stoop, pull out a little plastic baggie with a dried, leafy substance in it. He pulls out a rolling paper, sprinkles a little of this tobacco-like substance on it, stuffs the baggy back in his jacket pocket and rolls paper it into a cigarette.
Is this guy in possession of a baggie of weed? Is he smoking a joint out on the street? (I know this is hardly a crime anymore – even where it is illegal – but we’re talking here about what the average citizen sees versus what you see as a well trained private investigator!)
To most people, this guy is in possession of marijuana and is openly smoking it on the street. However…
You understand that it’s very common for homeless people to collect cigarette butts off the street, sit down and roll them between their thumb and forefinger to let the unsmoked tobacco near the filter fall into the baggie. They collect this tobacco and save it to roll their own (essentially free!) cigarettes.
How can you tell the difference? Don’t just see the baggie of “dope”. Look at this guy and his actions in context.
Does he hide the baggie down his pants or keep it in his jacket pocket? How does he hold the cigarette? How does he “draw” on or smoke the cigarette. These things look different for a tobacco cigarette and a joint.
Look, you can learn this stuff just through plain ol’ experience, but that’s not always fun. How would you feel if you call the cops on the guy “with a baggie of dope” only to find out it was tobacco?
Yeah, I sell surveillance training, so maybe I’m biased on the need to know what your doing before you go out working a case. But, ask yourself, how would you feel at the end of the day when you lay your head on your pillow if you had missed any of these real case studies in real life rather than spending a few bucks to get trained?
I’m just sayin’.
Still not convinced? Then let me give you some more free training with my special report If You Want To Be a Private Investigator Give Up… Unless You Do These Three Things. You can get it right here…
Committed to your success,
Larry Kaye, P.I.