The Private Detective Predicament

I write letters to Ellen DeGeneres. No particular reason. Just because I can.

Dear Ellen,

This blog post is a continuation of “No, Mom. I Haven’t Been Drinking.” On this day, I was getting ready for both my in-laws to come into town and for my husband to be released from the hospital after a one week stay.

To sum it up: everything that could’ve gone wrong, did. It started with a clogged garbage disposal and ended with one sick kid. Somewhere in the middle was the unexpected presence of a private detective.

As my husband, his mother, and I were returning to the house from the hospital, my neighbor texted me asking if I knew who the owner of a small, sporty-looking pickup truck was. She told me he’d been parked outside of my home all day and when she was out walking her dog, he shrunk down in his seat a bit.

I did not know who the owner was. And also, I wasn’t in the mood for anything else. I grabbed my father-in-law and we greeted the driver – an elderly man who did not look physically fit. He told us he was a private detective conducting surveillance in our neighborhood. I was speechless.

 

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Stuff like this doesn’t happen every day. Not to us, at least.

He seemed harmless so my father-in-law and I left him alone and went back inside. The concern I had was that he never showed us any credentials supporting his claim that he was a private detective. Anyone can say they’re a private detective. Unfortunately – and I only know this because it’s come up in other social media forums – there’s nothing illegal about his presence. Where I live, you can park your car on the street and sit inside of it all day long. As long as you’re not blocking access to a driveway, mailbox, or fire hydrant; the police can’t do anything.

The next morning, I walked my kids outside to the bus stop and saw the truck parked outside. Again. What in the hell was he doing? Who was he watching? And why did he have to be so close to my kids’ bus stop. Although, in his defense, there isn’t a single place he could park that wouldn’t put him near a bus stop in this neighborhood. Still, I wanted to make sure this private detective was legit and not a pedophile.

 

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How does one find out if the alleged private detective is legit? In my case, I called the police.

 

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Rumor has it they’re really good at investigating stuff.

Five minutes after I made the call, a patrol car rolled around, stopping outside the truck.

 

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The officer chit-chatted with the driver for a few minutes and then got back into the patrol car and left.

I texted my neighbor to let her know I called the police and they had just left.  She responded: LOL. I called them yesterday. 

The following day, my other neighbor—who shares the bus stop with me—told me that when she was walking her dog the day before, she stopped and spoke with the alleged private detective. During the course of their conversation, he got very snarky with her, refusing to show her any identification. He told her if she had a problem with him, she could call the police.

We both knew the police had already spoken with him. It left both of us unnerved that he wouldn’t identify himself. And also that he was parked outside of my house and across the street from a bus stop. So, I did the only thing I knew to do. I hopped onto Facebook and consulted a Writer’s Detective group which is run by multiple police officers. The purpose of this group is to help writers craft realistic police scenarios in their stories. 

 

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The police officers who responded to the Facebook post told me that the two biggest reasons a private detective is hired is: A. Because an insurance company hired them to validate a worker’s comp claim. Or B: Because a spouse hired them to determine if there was a extramarital affair going on.

Child-custody cases are also another reason private detectives are used.

They also agreed that this private detective wasn’t very good at his job if the entire street knew he was there.

 

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By day four, I grew tired of seeing this tiny pickup truck sitting outside of my house. I called the police department back and asked the dispatcher if there was someone who could tell me if this guy was a legit private detective. If he was legit, I’d suck it up and deal with it. If the police weren’t able to confirm he was a private detective, I intended to take pictures of his vehicle and broadcast them over multiple Facebook groups so other parents would know there was a strange man lurking around the neighborhood.

 

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The dispatcher told me that the police officers did verify he was a legitimate private detective and that he would be in the neighborhood for a few more days. I let all the concerned neighbors know what I was told and did not post pictures of his car on Facebook.

Day four was his last day in our neighborhood and we haven’t seen him since. Also, we never did figure out who he was investigating which is very anticlimactic and disappointing. Under the Homeowner’s Association Series, I’m writing a new series called the Friends & Neighbors App. The first blog posted Monday. It’s based off of topics discussed on various Facebook forums and other social media sites. Since the private detective encounter was lackluster, Ellen, I’m going to do what I do best. I’m going to create a fictional scenario that’s much more exciting and I’m going to do it in the Friends & Neighbors App.

Sincerely,

A. Marie Silver

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