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September 05, 1974 - Image 10

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1974-09-05

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Page Ten

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Thursday, September 5, 1974

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Loca private eyes gather
info with diverse methods

Splendor in the grass
Seeking relief from the hot sunlight, a student takes a brief
siesta underneath one of the many trees located on the
Diag.

By JOHN McMANUS
Next time a telephone repair-
man comes to your door, ask to
see his identification. He could
be a private investigator with
a "pretext."
Pretext is what detectives call
lying or misrepresentating your-
self, according to local private
eyes. A detective dressed as a
telephone repairman, for in-
stance, may "want to check the
amount of static on your long
distance calls," they explain.
THE PRETEXT gives him en-;
try to your house and a chance,
to learn how the kids are dress-
ed, how you keep your house,
and who lives there. All of this
information may be potentially
valuable to paying clients for
determining your fitness for
child custody, for example.
The same investigative tactic
can be used to pry loose a stu-
dent's grades from the Univer-
sity registrar's office by a de-
tective impersonating "a poten-
tial employer."
Or a neighbor might become
more talkative if assured that
the investigator is merely an
insurance agent on a routine
check of a policy buyer.
CITY PRIVATE detectives
Bill Strubank and Claude Dam-
rom both do this kind. of in-
vestigation work. But they say
their jobs bear little resemb-
lance to the glamorous career
of TV's Joe Mannix, who often!
seems to be mainly a hired gun
for the upper crust.
"I watch these private c y e
programs," Damron says. "They'
are sort of humorous. They al-l
ways seem to get the job done
within an hour. It always seems
it's under the best of conditions
and dealing with the upper class
. . . I'm sure all private investi-
gators, like myself, look at these
kind of programs with a chuck-
le. It's more of a dreamer's
view of what a private eye is.
There's nothing realy glamor-
ous about it."

Damron spent 18 of his 22
years with the Ann Arbor police
department as a plainclbthes-
man. Now, nine years after leav-
ing his police job, he is "pretty
much a loner," running his own
agency, Cosmopolitan.
STRUBANK IS operations
manager for Sanford Security,
a company whose main line is
security guards (No, damn it,
not rent-a-cop," Strubank in-
sists).
Both Damron and Strubank
spend most of their time seek-

'There can be a frightening aspect of
social cases. As Strubank points out: 'The
law limits what can be used in the courts
but the investigative method rarely comes,
to light in non-criminal investigations.' In'
such cases, both Strubank and Damron
agree 'illegal surveillance is sometimes em-
ployed.'
a' C'rl:}. :::".Y1:.Gl. ! 1Am

However, private detectives
spend most of their time on
social and civil investigations.
Criminal investigations are us-
ually conducted by the polce.
According to Damron and Stru-
bank not all police are as
clumsy as the gumshoes por-
trayed on television serials.
But there is often a thin
line between a social and legal
case Strubank says. "The injur-
ed party must sign a complaint
for a case to come before a
judge. Very often there are rea-
sons to bring an individual to

ing specific information. Clients
as mundane as insurance com-
panies, law firms and worried
parents call them for help. A
lawyer calls to check out a wit-
nesses' story.
Because the real-life private
sys charges around $10 per hour
plus expenses for his services,
he is usually hired by Those
who have money and require in-
formation in order to keep it.
These clients include insurance
companies who find it irksome
to pay for the injuries of a
claimant. There are also doting
fathers who wish to find out if
their daughter or son's intend-
ed spouse meets their expecta-
tions.
DAMRON SAYS much of his
work is now coming from law
firms. Often he is hired to gath-
er information in support of an
indigent defendant by a court
appointed lawyer.

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court but the injured par+y de-
clines to prefer charges. This
happens 99 times out of a 100 in
Sanford's investigations.
THERE CAN BE a frightening
aspect of social cases, however,
as Strubank points out: "The
law limits what can be used in
the courts but the investigative
method rarely comes to light in
non-criminal investigation." In
such cases both Strubank and
Damron agree illegal electronic
surveillance is sometimes em-
ployed.
Both men deny their agencies
use illegal bugs. Damron claims!
that wiretapping and electronic
spying are the "fastest way tol
lose your (detective's) license."
Private eyes are licensed by
the state and irregularities are
investigated by the Michigan
State Police.
IN THE LAST five years,
there has been a changing mix
of civil cases into which. prirate
eyes have been called, the two
men say. Since the new divorce
laws made splitting up easier,
private detectives are no longer
preoccupied with pre-dawn raids
on motels and popping f I a s h
bulbs. "Messy investigations,"
Damron says with a crinkled
frown.
Likewise the advent of no-fault
car insurance has eliminated the
need to find a guilty party.
Private investigators like Dam-
ron, however, are still hired by
insurance companies to eaves-
drop on those who are suing for
injuries the company feels inap-v
nropriate to the accident. Be-
fore no-fault, such business cn-
sumed the bulk of Damron's
time.
Despite the loss of revenue in
these two areas, "business is
good," Damron says. A tele-
phone check of several other in-
vestigative agencies reveals a
city of busy snoopers.
A TYPE OF social investiga-
tion Damron is asked to pursue
involves students and faculty at
the University.
"You may have a ;on or
daughter going here to the Uni-
versity, coming from a good
family. He or she will be going
with someone and becoming rer-
ious and the parents will be-
come concerned. They'll get a
name. And then they want to
know who is my son or daugh-
ter going with?
Jaguar auto makers in Eng-
land have introduced a pre-
retirement program for in e n:
over 63 and women over RS.
They. do easier work and have
a six-hour day to help wean
them away from the work ethic.

"I guess it's probably normal
for any parent to be concerned,"
he says. "And so they will use
a private investigator to look
into this person's background."
SOMETIMES private e y e s
are employed by students, Dam-
ron continues. "In a number of
occasions, investigators h a v e
been called in - someone is re-
porting something that is em-
barrassing and they feel. it's
really not a police matter .."
Professors also use the serv-
ice, according to Damron. "I
have done investigations forpro-
fessors who quetly'wanted ano-
ther of their professiop check-
ed. For what means,! I don't
know and I don't inquire. I
just do the investigation.
"Many times they are look-
ing for academic information
that a person did in fact at-
tend a certain school, get a doc-
torate, did in fact '. . . teach at
a certain college, to verify his
qualifications. Personal d a t a ,
character, anything that might
be detrimental to his reputation
goes along with .this type of in-
vestigation."
AND HOW DOES one go about
such an investigation? "It's
easy," Strubank says, "to get
a good background of the aver-
age citizen. It can be done with-
out any problem at all."
First of all, Strubank explains,
there are many records open to
the public: birth certificates,
real estates records, automative
ownerships, marriage and di-
vorce records and credit ratings
among others.
However, both Strubank and
Damron agree there's no sub-
stituee for first-hand questioning
o subjects, their I enemies,
friends, acquaintances, and cre
ditors. "You'd be surprised ho
many people are willing to tal
about you," Strubank says.
"OF COURSE people are
little suspicious of who they'r
talking to," Damron adds. I
such circumstances it's neces
sary to blend into the surround
ings.
"It's very typical in one da
to be talking to the pesident o
a big company over a proble
they're got and then ithe sam
night, dress in old clothes, g
'Since the new di-
vorce l1a w s made
splitting up easier,
private detectives
are no longer pre-
occupiedwivthpre-
dawn raids on motels
and poppingf a sh
bulbs.'S
into the neighborhood and yo
have to assume an entirely d'
ferent posture and appoaranc
(. Being an actor ;is part o
the game. Imagination plays
very big part."
Since neither Damron n o
Strubank could blend into a stu
dent population, they hire stu
dents to investigate for them.
The students can ask questins
without arousing suspicion. Of-
ten they will befriend the sub-
ject of the investigation.
ANY INFORMATION can be
had, according to Damron, i
the investigator is determine
and imaginative enough. To that
Strubank that nearly anything
can be had for the right price
including a college or advanced
degree.

Private detectives work in
unique pulse spots ii society.
As Damron explains: "People
come to us when they need to
know something and are uncom,
fortable enough to pay for it."

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