The chase [How to become a PI – book excerpt]

Kurt.nzHow to become a private investigator, Stories

The chase

He slowly walks down the gangplank, struggling under the weight of two heavily laden backpacks. That fits the description, but is it the guy I’m after? A quick double check of his picture on my phone confirms it. Back to watching him through my video camera.

A container truck blocks my view. By the time it clears he’s disappeared. Damn! Two seconds later he reappears, he’s stashed the bags behind the gangplank and is sitting, waiting. This could be a while, you never know how long for.

A taxi pulls up. A struggle to get the bags in the cab and then he’s in the back, taxi heading towards the exit, straight past me. Video camera down, engine started ready for a vehicle tail. One car in-between us, perfect. It’s a fairly short tail from the port to the train station. The taxi drops him off right next to the platform.

Heart starts beating faster. I need to find a park and get on that platform before the next train. A quick left turn and there’s a park. I cut off a white van going for the same spot. A quick check of my equipment, all in the bag. Video camera, phone, hat, water, check. I’m already running towards the platform while I quickly lock the car. Around the corner, sprinting up the stairs and onto the platform. Just before I get to the top I slow to a casual walk. I’m just a guy finishing work, on my way back home. I’ve already got my headphones in listening to music…in reality I’m on the phone, in contact with my partner who is still in his own vehicle. I’m puffing and my heart’s pounding, I fight to stay looking relaxed. Deep breaths.

There’s the guy. Sitting on the bench with the two bags. I still don’t know where he’s heading. A short wait and the train pulls up, it’s heading right into town. A quick update to my partner who starts driving, hoping to be able to beat us to town. I then settle in for the ride. I’m behind him, about ten seats back, across the aisle. A good opportunity to get a bit more video on my phone, more evidence for the client.

Half an hour later we’re in town. Traffic’s been good and my partner has beaten us there. I spot him as we go up the escalator, I’m about ten meters behind the subject. I exchange glances with my partner and he picks up the tail. I can hang back. I take a parallel route to the subject, cautious to not get caught in his path.

It’s a slow walk as his backpacks are so heavy. He stops countless times to rest. Eventually we make it to the ferry terminal. How many forms of public transport is this guy going to take? It’s a fairly busy terminal. Good. Plenty of opportunity to mingle in the crowd and get a bit closer.

It starts to rain. Everyone cowers under the meagre shelter there. Not our subject. He’s walked too far carrying heavy bags to worry about a little bit of rain. The ferry pulls up, people board quickly. The crew help the guy with his heavy bags, after all, he’s not that young and it is pouring with rain. Again, I’m settling in for the ride.

As we reach the island everyone has already crowded around the exit, eager to get off. The subject is one of the first in line, there’s quite a crowd between us. Be careful not to lose him in the terminal. He won’t be walking too fast though.

As we go up the ramp, I see a woman come down the ramp to help him with the bags. Who’s she? They place them both on one of the benches and open them up. Really? In this public place? I’m still in the crowd moving towards the exit. A small group breaks away towards the benches. I walk in behind. I have to see what’s in the bags and hear what they’re saying.

Bingo! It’s the goods. And they’re being none too shy about discussing exactly what they’ve got and where they got it. I hear it all, still hidden by the milling crowd.

They close the bags and head towards the exit. I don’t have to be too careful about my cover now, we know what they’ve got. Now to be a bit bolder in getting evidence. I walk slightly ahead and to the side of them. They’re still walking slowly, and the crowds are dying down. My cell phone is in my hand by my side, recording video, and I can hear exactly what they’re saying. She’s putting in an order for the next items he’s going to help himself to, from the clients’ stock.

They put the bags in a car, hop in and drive off. Too late and too remote to try and get a vehicle to follow them. It doesn’t matter, we know where he lives, and I’ve got the evidence, I’ve got it all. A visit to him the next day with the evidence is all we need for a full confession, return of stolen goods and voluntary repayments towards his previous offending. Job done, client happy.

How on earth did I go from sitting in an office looking at spreadsheets all day to becoming a private investigator? From office politics to foot and vehicle surveillance. From being stuck in traffic to detecting fraud and getting confessions.

It started as a wild idea. Something I’d love to do but couldn’t see how to. For years this idea sat there and ate away at me. I did other things instead, I went to university, got a job in marketing, progressed to management. Did everything that ‘normal’ people should do. But still I had that idea. But surely, being a private investigator wasn’t really a viable career choice? Besides, I had no experience.

It took redundancy from my comfortable job to give me the motivation I needed. And that’s when I decided, ‘it’s now or never’. It wasn’t an easy road. It took time, commitment, a lot of waiting and not a small amount of feeling like I’m out of my depth.

I’m here to prove that becoming a private investigator with little or no experience can be done. Not only that, I’m here to show you how.

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