Indiana Investigator takes interesting with mundane
divendres, 29 d'octubre de 2010 12:56
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Long hours of waiting and watching take patience, according to one area private detective. Tribune staff writer Robin Toepp spoke with P.I. Steve Radde about the investigations business.

People tend to romanticize the life of a private investigator. What is it really like?

It’s interesting. You might be sitting for four days with nothing, but that’s what keeps some of the guys going: if you catch someone in the act.

Surveillances are something we get all the time. One time, I remember for 19 hours I was sitting in the car. It’s boring. You’re sitting, sitting, sitting, waiting for a movement. Back then, which is funny now, I didn’t have a little TV to plug into a cigarette lighter, so it got very boring. If you have the file there, you just read the file over and over and just keep an eye for what you are looking for. Now they have plug-in DVD players.

How can you pay attention if a DVD is playing?

If it’s down the street and you’ve got a car that you are looking for, you’re just watching for movement, so you can just put the DVD player on the dashboard and keep looking straight ahead. Sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it’s not.

How long have you been a private investigator?

Since 1986. My father started in 1982 when he returned from working in the FBI.

What kind of special training have you had?

I went to Clay High School, and I went to Holy Cross College. Then to Ball State, where I studied criminal justice and sociology. But I left (before finishing the degree just an internship away from completion) and came here and started working.Also, when I started out I was connected to the hip to my dad and I listened to his interviews. He was a real professional. He was former FBI, dark pants, white shirt, dark tie.


How do you spend an average day?

I do interviews, I keep in contact with the person in charge of our security company and the person in charge of our alarm company, and I oversee all of our investigations.

What kinds of cases do you handle?

Murder cases; criminal cases. We get a lot of domestics that turn into child custody battles. That is difficult. We find out how many children there are, what the problem is — drinking, spousal cheating, gambling — that’s one that’s popping up lately. When they come in and say money’s been missing, we follow people up to the gambling boat, take photos or video. With workers’ compensation cases, they want movement of the body, so they want video.Cheating is just sad because you pretty much already know they’re doing it, so it’s just catching them — it doesn’t feel good, especially if there are children involved.

Do you have a favorite part of the job?

I like the investigations, I like the interviews. We go make sure everything being said to police is true and matches up.

How do you get people to talk?

I try to put myself in their shoes. I try to understand, maybe explain to them about a similar case. Once you get the respect with each other it goes pretty smooth. It does take so much time (for them) to open up, sometimes two to three times to get the whole story, and time is money.Do you carry a gun?

In the beginning I did wear a gun, but I don’t anymore. I am licensed to carry one, but I hardly shoot (practice) at all.

What kind of gun do you have?

I still have the old 357, and that’s enough.

What are some cases that stick out in your mind?

We did the investigation for the Alan Matheney case (the convicted murder who was put to death earlier this year). He said he was guilty, so what we had to do was the investigation on the defense side dealing with the insanity plea. I spent a year and a half with him (getting to know him). We just try to help find the truth and let the peers, the jury, decide.

The other one I remember was Fahad Al-Urayir (whose decapitated body was found in February 1998 on Sage Road). I was hired by the Saudi Embassy. We were trying to bring some new light to the case. We reinterviewed a lot of people. (The case is still officially unsolved.)

Why do these cases stick out?

Because those are more intense, higher-profiled in the paper, so you have to watch a little more what you do. It’s a very touchy situation, and you always had to watch over what you were doing. With the Saudi one, it was very sad, everybody we interviewed thought that Fahad was just a fun guy, so it was sad.

How is it working with police?

We try to let them know we are not trying to step on any toes, and we turn over information to them. They have the badge, they have the backup and the resources.

What kinds of surveillance do you use?

We have an alarm clock radio with a little camera hidden in it. We have a smoke detector with a camera in it. We have a transmitter, video cameras and other equipment we can put in (to monitor thefts, adultery, etc.).

How do you circumvent wiretap laws?

We rent equipment if it’s someone’s own home. (So they are the ones installing the equipment.)We caught one lady stealing money from a church (using hidden cameras). After we brought in people to look at the tape, someone finally recognized her as someone who worked at the church years ago and still had a key.

It sounds like an interesting job to hav

Every day something new comes in, and the last two years have been busy.