There are certain cases where “normal procedure” will produce no usable product while subjecting the investigator to potential difficulties. Subjects that live in very bad neighborhoods and drive as if auditioning for the demolition derby fall into this category.
This was a claim of bilateral carpal tunnel on its way to a finding of total disability. The first pass through the neighborhood in which our subject lived was not encouraging – very minimal parking in an area manned by drug dealers and their runners virtually 24 hours a day. The crack cocaine industry does not tolerate surveillance cameras or non-customers hanging around.
DMA’s investigator was momentarily at wit’s end. Thus far in his career he had not given up on an investigation and was not inclined to do so now. But there were no apparent possibilities of sitting on the subject and remaining alive.
The breakthrough came as he drove home. Sitting at the curb about a half block from his house, awaiting trash pickup the next day, was an empty refrigerator box. He instantly liberated that item from its landfill destination and took it home. There he climbed in and discovered he fit pretty well. He got a stool from his house and cut holes in the box through which he could shoot video.
Next he borrowed a truck, strapped the box into the back securely and had a fellow investigator drive to the neighborhood to find one of the few parking places with views of the subject’s residence. The truck was then parked and the driver departed, leaving our investigator boxed in, but with a view.
The combination of a hot day and no activity does not make for a happy eight hours in a refrigerator box. But it does produce a certain degree of relief when your driver arrives, gets the truck to a nearby parking lot, and releases you from the dark.
Despite the miserable first day, our investigator returned for more of the same early the following day.
Just before noon, his perseverance paid off. A pickup truck pulled up and parked in the no-parking zone in front of our subject’s apartment building. Moments later our subject, a distinctive (very large) female appeared, helping a neighbor carry out furniture. This continued for several hours and our subject demonstrated considerable arm strength and dexterity for the entire time. We capped off our truly excellent film with shots of our subject cinching down the load with rope and tying sturdy knots.
As they pulled away, our investigator was on his cell whispering to his driver to come get him. Great film is always exhilarating – but it was time to get out of the box.
The film was so good, and our subject’s sworn statements so in contradiction of the video evidence, that the case was referred for prosecution. Truth and justice prevailed in this instance, with jail time for the fraudster.
Film is the goal of every good investigator, but referral for prosecution based on one’s film product always makes it into the investigator’s mental scrapbook of highlights.