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Hard Lessons Learned as New Private Investigators

It was in the early days for Cindi and me. Meaning, we had only been at this private investigating thing for a couple of months. Since then we've worked more than a thousand cases together, but as I said, this was the early days, and we had just a handful of cases under our belts.

I enlisted Cindi's help because my husband had alerted me to a strange vehicle that would park across the street in the neighbor's circular driveway. The car would idle for a minute, with the headlights shining into our living room. This happened nearly every night, as the suspect would slowly drive up the circular drive, then stop, and then slowly drive away. My husband was very concerned by this, as my son had been having trouble with an old girlfriend, and she was known to stalk him and our house. Or worse, maybe it was a criminal who was casing our house and waiting until the right time to break in! Night after night this happened. And night after night he tried to get the license plate or see who was inside the car, but he could not. So, I enlisted Cindi's help. Cindi was and is still my eyes, ears and boots on the street, besides being my investigations partner and one of my dearest friends. So, she said she would come and sit with me into the wee hours, to wait for the stalker to come back around.

It was pouring rain the night she came, but we decided if they showed up in the rain they must be very serious about casing my house. So, we waited. We talked and talked about our (very few) cases, and we made big plans for the future. We would take over Austin! Texas! Maybe the whole country, because we could INVESTIGATE! Oh, yes… we were full of bravado and the new found thrill of getting our pocket cards and badges. This was a new career for both of us, and we just knew we were the best out there.

So, as the sun went down and the moon came up, we waited, talked, waited. We drank coffee and more coffee and listened to the rain pound the roof. Finally, at 4:00 a.m. we were just about to give up. Cindi stood and stretched, as did I, and we began to say our goodbyes for the evening, with the intent to try again another night. Right then we saw headlights reflected on the wet street as a car came slowly down the street and pulled into the circular driveway across the street. "OH, MY GOD!" Cindi exclaimed, as she grabbed, then dropped, then grabbed again her keys, running through the house to the backdoor, tripping over the dog, then running outside to get in her car. "There he IS!" she yelled…. With the "I'm on him, don't worry, I'm ON him!" echoing through the house as Cindi ran to her car, stepping into a foot deep puddle along the way. She peeled out of the driveway just in time to jump right on his tail as he made his usual slowwww circle in the neighbors drive, and then proceeded down the street. "Call the police!" she said when she called me… "I can't get a plate number; he's got a dealer plate, the shifty bastard!" I called 911 and told them my top notch investigator was following the car who had been stalking me. When I called Cindi back her breath was coming in ragged gasps, as she told me she had him cornered in the office park parking lot down the street. In a panic, the stalker then maneuvered around her, and so as not to have her get shot, I told her the police would now pursue and to come back here. She came back with her eyes a mile wide, telling of how she chased him up and down the streets in the neighborhood until finally cornering him in the office park parking lot. We smiled smugly at each other and waited for the local P.D. to fill us in on my stalker.

lessons learned as private investigatorsA few minutes later we saw a cruiser pull up and the officer came to the door. Eagerly, we answered the door, prepared to hear him sing our praises for bringing this obvious criminal to his attention. He asked us if the car had a dealer plate, and we said it did. Then, struggling to keep a straight face, he told us they had located the car a couple of streets over. He said the driver was extremely shook up. Cindi and I grinned, thinking of that criminal being scared to death by her pursuit. The police officer hesitated, and I said to him "WELL?! Who is the guy?!" He fought back the hint of a smile as he said, quite gently, "Your neighbor has the Austin American Statesman newspaper delivered to her door." Silence. Then more silence. His words slowly sunk in. By this time he could not keep a straight face, so he was grinning but looking everywhere but at us. Cindi looked at me. I looked at her. Neither one of us said a word. Newspaper boy. Delivery.

With that we thanked the officer for his time, and gently closed the door. Like two best friends in a quiet classroom, we burst out laughing… shrieking so loud we woke my husband up. When he came downstairs he found us doubled over howling on the couch, wiping tears from our eyes. "Did you get ‘em?" he asked, full of hope and excitement. "Oh, yeah… we got ‘em. Don't worry if you see them again… they are harmless" "Really?", he asked, with a puzzled look. As we explained between gales of laughter, he began to sing the theme from Cops, Hawaii 5-0 and the keystone cop jingle. It took several hundred successful cases for us to shake off the sting of that police officers smirk. I guess, like the song says, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger and this definitely set the tone for never again jumping to conclusions. Today, we're glad we had the experience. It brought us down a notch, which looking back was probably the best thing that could have happened. And now, several years later, when we say we're going to get ‘em, we DO!

By Julee Ware