I am often getting asked about my adventures as a PI and what has transpired on my many “Stakeouts”. I am sure they are not as exciting as television, but I have had a few heart stopping moments, and a few sad ones, as I will explain over the next few episodes of “Tales of a PI”. A few years back, I was given a file by a government agency. It was nothing out of the ordinary. Except it was an evening file out in Surrey. Now as a rule, being a woman, I am not fond of stakeouts at night. I usually don’t accept them, but this one seemed too easy to say no to. This evening in Surrey, was foggy. It was so foggy the whole area was steeped in it. It was very difficult to drive much less see this person’s street and home. I need to clear up some misconceptions about being on a stakeout. First of all, you NEVER park in front of the subject’s home. That is a dead giveaway. It’s best to park at least halfway down the street or at least 4 to 5 homes away with the best view of the home or driveway. You need to cover as much as you can from that distance with a video camera. Many times that is very hard to do, depending on the street and layout of the area.

This night, because of the fog, I had to find a spot a lot closer to the subject’s home to be able to see. Once I was parked, I got my camera gear all ready, and used my night vision. Some video cameras are equipped with a “night vision” feature, and in my line of work it is a blessing to have. It was a Saturday evening, and as time went by, I noticed a lot of activity down the street.Many cars were parking at a residence and I could only assume it was a gathering, a party about to commence.

After a few hours, I looked up and saw headlights behind my car. They were not shutting off, but rather glaring at me for a few minutes. I thought perhaps it was the police. Here is another situation that I need to explain. Usually I call the local RCMP to announce that I am in an area, so not to raise suspicion about me being in my car. That way, if someone calls in to report any suspicious behaviour, they will let that person know that they are aware of my presence. And that I am one of the good guys. There is nothing more unnerving and a dead giveaway to a PI, when a cop car pulls up behind them on a stakeout on a residential street that totally blows their cover. This night I did not call in. When I looked in my rear mirrors, I deduced this was not the case, it was just a car. I got spooked, and very nervous. I called a colleague and he advised me to drive away and leave the area. Slowly. My hands were shaking and I was very scared. I turned on my engine and slowly drove away. Much to my dismay – that car started following me!!WWW.METROLIVINGZINE.COM NEWS IMAGE CREDIT: http://bit.ly/1Lv4ums

I didn’t know where I was going. I use my GPS a lot and at this point pulling over to find anything was not an option. Being so foggy didn’t help either. My heart was literally beating out of my chest. Where to go? What to do? I managed to get out of this residential maze, and come upon a Tim Hortons. It was such a relief to see lights and people. I pulled up and then stopped. I looked behind me and the car was gone. My colleague suggested I buy a coffee, sit for a few minutes, regroup then go back, but sit in a totally different area of the street. While I was loathing going back, I knew I had too. It’s the nature of the beast in this profession. It’s not uncommon to come up against the curious, the angry, and police. After about 15 minutes and a coffee, I proceeded to return to the area. Very very cautiously.It seemed as it was when I first arrived. Calm and quiet. As instructed, I parked in a totally different area. On a side note. I was driving a very basic car. A Chevy Cavalier, not my BMW. After about 20 minutes, I relaxed and continued my surveillance.

A few cars were coming and going from the area of the party house. I only had a few hours left to go and because of the situation, was very happy about that and counting the minutes. Five minutes later, a car was coming up the street from behind me, and slowed down as it drove by. Being dark, I didn’t see who was in the last car that came up behind me, much less what make it was. At the time that was not my concern. This car was foreign to me as well, but I caught a glimpse of some male youths and my heart started to race all over again. I believed it to be the same car from before!! I was SO done! As soon as they passed they drove to the end of the street by the party house and were proceeding to turn around. Before they had a chance to come back , I broke off the file and got the hell out of there! Once I was around the corner from the area, I am positive I saw their lights behind me from a distance but I couldn’t be sure, and at that point I really didn’t care ! I went back to the Tim Hortons and called my client and told them I was done with the file! At this point in my career, I made a decision never to do night files if I could help it.WWW.METROLIVINGZINE.COM NEWS IMAGE CREDIT: http://bit.ly/1N4xlSd

I believed that party residence to be some sort of gang club house. And these kids were not your average party kids. The next day I contacted the RCMP and learned that yes, indeed they were watching this house, and yes, there was a lot of gang activity there. I know Surrey has a reputation for gangs, as does many other areas in the Greater Vancouver Regional district, but for me to be so close to it? I started to shake all over again. I have been in this profession going on 10 years. There are definitely a few files and occasions that will never leave my head. We have a saying in the PI life. We say, “ 4 hours of sheer boredom for 5 minutes of sheer terror” meaning when you are sitting on a file and no activity for hours, then all of a sudden the subject leaves in a car and you have to begin the chase. This leads me to my next story – for the next installment of “Tales of a PI”.