Media Mythology

The phone number was hidden, which wasn't that unusual as people often try to conceal their identity during the initial contact. She spoke in airy, whispered tones and seemed hesitant in her speech. She obviously liked the mystic and imagery of cloak-and-dagger-like activities. 

Come on already. Get to the point. 

We often received calls from "tyre-kickers" whose first question was about price, even before they explained the requirements of the job. Was this just another future declined client who was not even sure if they wanted to know the truth?

Caller - "I wanted to know how much you charge to trace and record phone calls." 

Me - "It's not something we do, what are you trying to find out, maybe there is another way?"

Caller - "I think my husband has been calling another female while I'm at work. I would like to trace the call and find out who she is and where she lives." 

Me - "Unfortunately, the privacy legislation stops us getting access to that information. Could we recommend some other options?" (Any PI who tries to sell you the means to do this could be considered to be enabling, or even encouraging, you to break the law, don't trust them).

Caller - "No that is ok, I'll have a think about it and get back to you".

That is the problem with this industry. People have been watching Hollywood productions and TV shows for so long they believe what they see.

Here are a few tips,

  1. Sherlock Holmes is fiction. Police don't use "consulting detectives" to solve the crimes for them. Even if the information security and crimes scene preservation were not a problem, the ego of the police would be a major hindrance. (They don't even like PIs calling themselves "detectives" because they haven't completed the police detective courses. Even using the term "investigator" is an issue for some, who prefer the term "inquiry agent").
  2. Although the movies say otherwise, in NSW we are unable to legally record conversations without the permission of both parties, place trackers on cars without the owner's knowledge, or follow people onto private property to peer in their windows.
  3. We do not have access to the Service NSW (RMS/RTA) computer system and therefore cannot find out the name or address of the registered owner of a vehicle. (We can use other techniques to find the most likely address and name of the user of the vehicle, however, these involve more than just computer searches).

A few days later we received another call from the same voice, this time she sounded a little more certain and confident.

Caller - "I would like to go ahead with some surveillance. I need some piece of mind so I can move forward with my life."

That is a common phrase our clients use. Unlike America, Australia does not have a fault-based divorce system where assets are divided along the lines of who was the cause of the relationship breakdown. As a result, proof of cheating in a marriage cannot be used to gain the upper hand in settlements claims. 

We ended up meeting with the Client and conducting the job as requested. Thankfully the husband was not found to be cheating, and she was happy with the result. She was able to relax and learn to trust again, and, unless she tells him, he will never know we were there.