These case studies represent genuine investigations undertaken by our Cambridgeshire private detectives
The eBay Burglar
A client based in Hertfordshire came to us several months after suffering a break-in at their home. Though there were no signs of forced-entry, numerous high value items had been stolen from the property.
The client duly reported the matter to the police, who, after making brief initial enquiries, decided against investigating further, due to a perceived lack of evidence.
Once involved, our investigators immediately looked for suspects with motive and opportunity to commit the burglary. One suspect stood out – a cousin of the family known to have financial difficulties and who had visited the client’s property just days before the burglary.
After questioning, the suspect claimed he was 50 miles away in another town on the night of the crime. However, CCTV footage taken from a convenience store at the end of the client’s street proved that the suspect’s vehicle was near the scene of the crime just minutes before the burglary.
Further investigation was conducted using eBay (a popular outlet for stolen goods). One eBay user, operating under a pseudonym, was selling several large furniture items matching the description of those stolen from the client.
Posing as buyers, we purchased one of the items and arranged collection in person from the seller. On arrival we were shown a large collection of furniture and antiques by a man matching the cousin’s description. He claimed the goods had been “handed down” from his grandparents.
After collecting our purchase, we returned the item to the client who positively identified the furniture as theirs.
A further purchase was arranged with the seller, this time with the police in tow. After his arrest, the guilty cousin admitted to the burglary, confessing he had left a disused side door ajar at the client’s house so that he could enter the property unnoticed. He had also seen a copy of the client’s calendar – enabling him to plan the break-in for a time when the house was empty.
With the guilty man’s cooperation, nearly all of the stolen items were returned to the client and the charges were later dropped.
A Big Corporate Buyout
We were approached by a large technology company that was considering buying out a local competitor for a large sum.
The client quite rightly wanted to ensure that the buyout company was of good financial standing, and that it’s staff could be relied upon once the acquisition was complete.
We were instructed to complete a series of due diligence checks on the target company. We started by verifying its financial and credit statuses, compliance with various regulatory bodies, research and development efforts and its standing within the business community.
The next stage was to dig deeper and scrutinize the company’s assets, investments and corporate structure.
Numerous checks were then carried out on the buyout company’s key personnel. We were looking for inconsistencies and untruths that might signify staff unrest, internal fraud or insider trading.
All in all, over 250 checks and verifications were conducted on the company and its staff. Nothing untoward was uncovered, and so the client was able to safely proceed with the acquisition in the knowledge that proper due diligence had been conducted.
The Late-working Employee
We were approached by local insurance company suffering from significant internal losses. Staff accounting fraud was suspected, but the client had no proof to support their suspicions.
We began by looking at the nature and frequency of the losses. All but two of the numerous frauds had taken place on either a Thursday or a Friday, and always towards the end of the month.
Not all accounting staff worked on these two days of the week, so this helped narrow the list of suspects.
Our next step was to investigate our suspects and look into their lifestyles and behaviour for certain indicators. One of them displayed some of the classic traits of a fraudster.
Over the last few months he had started to work later than everyone else and was often the last to leave the office. He was also very possessive of his desk space and reluctant to let other staff sit at his workstation or open his desk drawers.
Further investigation revealed the suspect had significant debts and had recently been declared bankrupt (a prime motivator for individuals to commit fraud). He had kept these facts from his employer.
With a likely suspect identified, ghost software was installed on the suspect’s work computer. This software is invisible to the user and covertly logs every keystroke and mouse click they make.
Sure enough, towards the end of the month, the suspect logged on to his computer and created several fraudulent expense transactions by utilizing a loophole in his employer’s accounting system.
Caught red-handed, the fraudster confessed and was dismissed from his post.
After closing the accounting loophole and putting further steps in place to stop future frauds, our job was done.
A Serious Case of Back Injury
A local insurance company approached us with concerns about one of their policy holders.
The policy holder in question was a thirty-year-old male subject who had been involved in a minor car accident.
The insurer had paid for the repairs to the subject’s vehicle, but now the policy holder was claiming that a severe back injury was preventing him from working. As well as claiming disability allowance from the Government, the subject was claiming on his personal injury insurance.
A medical examination was ordered by the client, but the result was inconclusive. The subject insisted that his injury was genuine, and so to test this claim, we put him under a period of surveillance.
Early on the first day the subject was seen limping down the driveway towards his vehicle. With much effort he was able to open the boot of the car, retrieve some belongings and then make his way back into the house.
The second day’s surveillance was much the same, except this time the subject limped across the street to a neighbour’s house, returning home a few hours later.
The evidence, it seemed, suggested the subject’s claim was true, and that he was indeed suffering from an unpleasant injury.
On the third day the subject was picked up by car from his home late one evening. Again, with great effort he managed to enter the vehicle before it drove off towards the town centre. We followed, and after a short drive the tailed vehicle parked up at the rear of a local nightclub.
The subject exited the vehicle, but this time he walked without limping, as if his injury had miraculously healed during the short drive.
He and the driver then entered the nightclub and evidence was obtained of the subject walking without impediment, dancing, and even bear hugging a friend.
When confronted with this evidence, the subject dropped his claim and was forced to repay his fraudulently obtained disability benefit payments.
With our help the client had avoided paying out thousands of pounds needlessly.
The Fleet-footed Witness
A large firm of solicitors approached us requesting we trace a witness who had gone missing.
The witness in question was due to give evidence in a complex and costly criminal case, but had gotten cold feet at the last moment and skipped town. Despite their best efforts, the client could find no trace of them.
After obtaining as much information from the client as possible about the missing person, we set to work.
The subject’s last known addresses were checked, as were their known hangouts and places of work. These steps proved fruitless.
Our next step was to speak to former work colleagues and visit local convenience stores, pubs and any other places of interest near the subject’s home address. Once again, our efforts were unsuccessful.
We then received a tip from the subject’s lodger. They had discovered a letter addressed to the subject informing him that his MOT was due. After speaking with over fifteen local vehicle repair shops, one of them recognized the subject’s vehicle. They informed us he was due to return the day after next for further work on his car.
We put the repair shop under surveillance, and sure enough, the subject pulled up in his vehicle. After the repair work was complete, he left the garage and we followed him all the way back to a local address. He had been laying low at an ex-girlfriend’s house.
We approached the subject, and after a brief conversation with him, in which we reminded him of his obligations to the Court, he reluctantly agreed to give evidence as planned. Needless to say, we kept a close eye on him until the trial was over.
The Wayward Spouse
We were contacted by a client with matrimonial concerns. He was worried his spouse was in a relationship with another person, and wanted to obtain evidence of any wrongdoing for later use in the Divorce Courts.
After amassing as much background information as possible, we began our period of surveillance.
The client’s job frequently took them out of town for days at a time, thus providing a large window of opportunity for the suspected spouse.
The client’s house was put under surveillance. The first night nothing of note occurred. The second was much the same, but the third proved far more interesting.
After returning home from work one evening, the subject left the house very smartly dressed and entered a taxi that had pulled up outside. The cab took a winding route towards the local train station before parking. The subject exited the vehicle and proceeded towards the ticket office where they purchased a return ticket to a nearby village. We did likewise, and took up a position on the train a few seats behind the subject.
After a short journey, the subject got off the train and proceeded on foot. We followed at a distance and observed them entering a small terraced house in a quiet cul-de-sac. Once a surveillance vehicle had arrived, we were able to keep watch on the house through the night. Very early the following day the subject was seen leaving the house in the same clothes they had worn the previous day. This routine occurred on the same day the following week, and the week after that.
After examining the surveillance evidence, the client decided to confront the subject. Divorce proceedings were then initiated, and the client managed to negotiate a much more reasonable financial settlement than they would have been able to had they started legal proceedings empty handed.