Archive for August, 2010

Cool For Cats

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

This story brought tears to my eyes.

 

A firefighter was working on the engine outside the station, when he noticed a little girl nearby in a little red wagon with little ladders hung off the sides, and a garden hose tightly coiled in the middle.

The girl was wearing a firefighters helmet. The wagon was being pulled by her dog and her cat. The firefighter walked over to take a closer look. 

‘That sure is a nice fire truck,’ the firefighter said with admiration… ‘Thanks,’ the girl replied. The firefighter looked a little closer. The girl had tied the wagon to her dog’s collar and to the cat’s testicles.. 

‘Little partner,’ the firefighter said, ‘I don’t want to tell you how to run your rig, but if you were to tie that rope around the cat’s collar, I think you could go faster.’ 

The little girl replied thoughtfully, ‘You’re probably right, but then I wouldn’t have a siren.’

Meoooooooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

MEETING PEOPLE YOU HAVE MET ON LINE

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Please excuse me if this post has slightly more typos than normal, but I am a very tired boy as the result of an urgent job we dealt with which I am pleased to say has had a happy ending.

The media is full of stories of murder an mayhem resulting from people meeting on social networking sites.  One in particular seems to be a favourite.  Meeting strangers that you have not actually met is always a risky business be it somebody with a sexy voice on the phone to somebody in a chat room or on fartbook or wherever.

However, the internet can actually make it a  bit safer than the telephone because with web cams being an almost standard feature on a lot of PCs and net books etc you can see who you are talking to.

The job we have dealt with was a boy meets girl saga and as I said before it has happy ending, but it could have been very different and for awhile gave a few people some anxious moments.

At about 6.30pm on Sunday evening I got a phone call from somebody I had met and given one of my cards to who said that their 14 year old daughter had gone missing from home near Nice and the parents had reason to believe she had gone to Paris to meet a man twice her age could we help.

Of course we could,  although I am not sure why they did not ring the police first as really this is their domain, but they did what they did and so did we.

The brief story was that it would seem that she met this bloke on line, chatted for several weeks and then arranged to meet in Paris.

Long story short the girl tells mum she is going to stay with a friend and heads to Paris.  Fortunately the friend had not got the text telling her to cover for her and so rang Miss X at home to see if she could go out the next day.  Mun answers the phone and says  “Err I thought she was with you” Light blue touch paper and stand well back while ma heads into orbit.  Which I fully understand.

I was able to get them to calm down and guided them through a search of her bedroom and her computer.   I was a bit surprised at the parents reluctance to “Break the bond of trust by violating he privacy” Kin Ada your daughter is missing and you are worried about her privacy.  Give me bloody strength.  They almost had kittens about accessing her PC “Do you really think we should?” YES MADAM I DO.

Fortunately the PC was not password protected and we quickly established that she  had bought  her travel tickets and  on line and although we did not know exactly where she was staying for sure, there was enough of a trail and clues for us to head for Paris. However there was still the fact that she had been lured away from home by a pervert and was possibly in danger.

One call to Cyclops was ll it took and by 10pm UK time two lads were on a Eurostar from London to Paris whilst I headed North on the TGV.

It was not the best nights kip I have ever had but by 6.30 I was with the others looking at what we had over coffee and croissant.

I wont bore you with the who did what as that is not the point of this post, however we were there for the two love birds first meeting. I think it fair to say it did not go quite as they had planned, actually it almost did not go as we planned it.

At about 10am we were where we thought the meeting was going to take place and indeed there was a very sexy young lady who appeared to be waiting for somebody.  The problem was that we weren’t quite sure and she almost fitted the description BUT certainly did NOT look like the photo of a sweet innocent school girl we had been given by mum and dad.

At just after 10am on a cloudy Parisian morning a smiling young man with a shorish black curly hair carrying a lovely bunch of flowers walked confidently towards the girl.  They looked at each other smiled big big smiles and  leant forward to kiss when we intercpeted loves first kiss.

She was our girl and here was the pervert, although i have to say he didn’t look like a pervert just a normal young bloke who  has suddenly found himself in the hands of two gentleman who very discreetly but forceably taken hold of him and clearly meant business and I have to say le looked very frightened and  not at all dangerous.

I had a bad feeling about this.

The two parties were seperatedand I quickly established the young lady was the girl we were looking for her story fitted with what we knew and that this was their first meeting.  I told her to stay where she was and went to have a word with the child snatcher.

It transpires he was doctor and that they had met on line blah blah blah the story was the same.  I told him her age and his face drained of what remaining colour it had.  He clearly went weak at the knees as the enormity of the situation it him and he kept saying “No No You’re joking, you have to be Joking”  We assured him we were not some new comedy act and that we most certainly were not joking.  He then started uttering “Oh my God” over and over.  We sat him on a bench as it looked at one point as if he was going to faint.

He calmed down enough to tell us that she had told him that she was 18 and would soon be 19 and had been studying in France as part of a degree course.   For her part she just cried and said she was sorry.

It was actually quite sad, him sitting there on a bench in the middle of Paris limply holding the beautiful bunch of flowers and her all dolled up with her cheeks stteaked with mascara.

Paris is not the best place to get a cup of tea in a crisis, but we eventually overcame this little problem and sat them down and sorted out what had happened.

There was nothing sinister.  Silly and ill advised maybe but nothing untoward.

It took quite a while for us to get them calmed down, but eventually it was all sorted out with no hard feelings and time for us all to go our separate ways.  Instead of tearful lovers kisses that would normally mark a romantic parting they gave each other shy embarrassed smiles and there was one last touch of his sleeve and a sorry and we turned and walked towards the train.

The story just emphasises that it makes good practice to know who you are dealing with.  I dont just mean when dealing with people on line but in general.  The story of the parking attendant is a variation of the same theme.

If you are going to meet somebody you have met on line (or do any kind of finacial transation with) then I would suggest that you ask for the most basic form of Identity verification  and ask to produce and obtain a copy of

  1. Some form of photo ID such as a passport, driving licence or ID card in countries that have them, so you can compare the picture on this document to the person you are talking to.  Make sure you keep a copy of this .  A video rental card or similar non official document will not suffice.
  2. A bill with their address on.  Ideally this is utility bill such as Tax bill, electricity, gas, Telephone land line NOT a mobile phone bill.

When and ONLY when you have these documents and are satisfied that the person on these documents is the same as the personcyou are talking  is it OK to move on to arranging the meet.

If the person inquestion won’t or can’t show then treat them with suspicion, because in this day and age of scanners, digital cameras, web cams, skype, MS messenger it is dead easy to do this and there is no reason why somebody cannot provide you with a copy of one of these types of document.

Last but by no means least it is essential that you tell at least one person, but ideally two,  the full details of who, where and when you are meeting and arrange a check in time.  If you dont ring in they must ring you and if they dont get hold of you then they must alert the authorities.

These are our  basic standard operating procedures and they work us and there is no reason they should not work for you and hopefully make things a bit safer for you.

parking attendant

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Some time ago we received a request by an organisation to track down a gentleman who had allegedly stolen a considerable amount of money.  The communication was notably short on detail and the only contact we had was a mobile number and a gmail email account.

When we did speak to them the clients were vague to say the least and very cagey on how much had been stolen and how the theft had occurred.  The combination of the lack of detail  and us being somewhat intrigued as to why they had not approached les garcons en bleu we decided to have a nosey and see what was what.

So we contacted them to arrange a meet.  They were very cloak and dagger and insisted on the utmost secrecy and we agreed to meet in a cafe in Weston Super Mare.  It was a horrid day and the rain was lashing down and I was bloody soaked by the time I got the RV which was a grotty little café.

There were two middle aged men in suites looking very furtive in the corner and they could not have looked more out of place if they had tried.  I got myself a cup of tea and went to the table and introduced myself.  The two gents looked about them and I wondered if I should break the news to them that the Berlin Wall had come down some years ago and that there was no longer an East and West.

I decided that it would be wasted on them and sat down.

“Well gentleman what can I do for you?”

They looked even more furtive.

“This is very sensitive” said the older man looking very serious.

“So I understand which is why I am here” I assured him.

“We represent ….and organisation which has a car park for 150 cars” He said tentatively and stopped.

“Yes and so?”

“And 8 coaches” added the second chap.

A further silence.  Christ this is going to take frigging weeks I thought seriously regretting not sending Cyclops.

“It was manned by a very pleasant attendant”  Silence

“Good I am so pleased but what has that got to do with a substantial theft and me”

“He had a ticket machine”

“I think you will find that to be fairly standard practice” I said getting a little irritable.

They nodded.  The older bloke continued “Charging cars £1 and coaches £5”

“Ok do I take it then that this fella has nicked some of the parking money then?” I asked trying to speed things a long a bit.

They looked even more sheepish and nodded “Well sort of”

“so why don’t you dig his details out from your HR records and hand them to the police or was he shagging the MD or something and is now blackmailing you”

The older man blushed “I did no such thing” he said indignantly “Sorry I was speaking metaphorically no offence intended”

“This parking attendant” continued the younger man worked there for 25 years.”

“An impressive records, shame there aren’t more people like that” I said

“Hmmm yes I suppose” He agreed half heartedly “ But you see one day, he just didn’t turn up for work.”

“So?” I said not really following where this was going

“Well we thought we had better phone the Council and get them to send a new parking attendant…”

“And?”

“They said the car park was our  responsibility”…they went very silent “But we told them that was not correct and that the attendant was employed by the City Council”

I looked at them “ He wasn’t employed by the council was he?”  They shook their heads and he obviously wasn’t employed by you or you wouldn’t have rung the council  and we wouldn’t be having this chat would we?”

They shook their heads and looked very sorry for themselves.

“How much does the car ark take per day since he left” I asked

In a barely audible whisper the younger man said “On average £400 a day based on a 7 day week”.

I prodded the calculator on my snappy new Iphone and oohh lala assuming he took  £400 per day, 7 days a week for 25 years this amounts to just over £36 million…Fuck me they weren’t lying when they used the word substantial and no wonder they were looking glum, but I couldn’t help myself smile.

“Its not laughing matter” said the older man rather crossly.

“You’re right” I said and then followed this little lie with a verbal estimate of our fees plus our commission. 

The old fella looked rather put out and said “You have to be joking” I looked at him very intently. “Oh no I’m not and I just agree it is not a laughing matter.  Furthermore I don’t take to kindly to being dragged to Weston super Mud on a wet day to have my time wasted. Is that understood”

They nodded.

“Do you own the land that the car park is situated on?”

“Yes we do and our organisation has done for over 150 years” said the younger man more positively

“Right well that’s something , so  if you want us to get some of your money back you know our fees and we will want as much information about this man that you can give us”

They looked embarrassed and the starred at their tea cups

“You don’t know anything about this man do you?”

“Err no not really” they said

“Oh people called him Reg, he had a hip replacement and he had once been a water ski instructor in Spain in about 1970 and we think he had a villa there” 

I don’t know why, but they looked very pleased with themselves at knowing so little about a man who stood on their land for 25 years making a possible £36 Million.

I have to say I sort of admire the bloke’s front, but the story just serves to underline that you should not take things for granted and always check who you are dealing with and make sure you know what is what, because  if you don’t you will loose out.