Colorado Springs private investigator helps a women reunite with stolen puppy after Colorado Springs police refuses to pursue dognapper captured on surveillance video
By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blog
"Junior had gotten out while I was at the store and I went around calling his name and calling it out for three hours" explains Colorado Springs resident, Brandy Trejo once she and her pit bull, Junior were reunited. She's been walking around the neighborhood calling the name of her missing dog for a few hours when a neighbor approached her, reporting that "she was driving right past my house and these two men said 'hey that’s my neighbor’s dog' and she didn’t know any better and handed the dog over."
See also: the Lost Llama of Loveland
Pit bull theft, unfortunately, is a problem in Colorado. Breeds with reputations as fighters get stolen and sold to dog fighting rings. "There are some bad people who want dogs for breeding purposes maybe they thought they could make money off of dog fighting. There’s a whole big thing going on in Colorado right now where people are stealing dogs for dog fighting and those are all pit bulls. I kept thinking you’d see him on TV and find out they’d busted a dog ring or something. That was my biggest fear," explains Trejo who thought the security camera footage and license place number would be sufficient for the police.
Fortunately, Brandy's across the street neighbor agreed to let Brandy and her husband view the security footage for the stretch of time Junior had gone missing. Sure enough, video evidence revealed what had happened along with the vehicle and the license plate that took Junior away.
Claiming it was out of their jurisdiction, "the police couldn’t do anything Trejo explains, and I decided to call a private investigator." Although Drivers Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) law precludes Colorado PIs from providing the residential addresses, Trailfinders wanted to help. They told Brandy, " it was the El Paso County Sheriff’s jurisdiction."
Unable to "just sit back and wait" Brandy headed over with the intention of driving around all the trailer parks in the jurisdiction to see if she could spot the car in the video footage. Without missing a beat, Trejo called the police and putting an officer on speaker phone, knocked on the door, confident that Junior was inside because the surveillance footage that matched the car outside. "It was very distinctive because I saw the license place on the footage and it has huge black rims on it so that’s something you can’t miss" she said.
“The private investigator pretty much told me what jurisdiction and a friend told me to call the police in the jurisdiction to see if they could help me but I wanted to find my dog and so I just went there and drove around I couldn’t sit back and wait," she explained when asked why she didn't take more precautions. She wanted Junior back. “The private investigator pretty much told me what jurisdiction and a friend told me to call the police in the jurisdiction to see if they could help me but I wanted to find my dog and so I just went there and drover around I couldn’t sit back and wait."
"If you get nothing for them then call me back. But don’t spend your money on me until you’ve exhausted your lead over there," Trailfinders told her. “The fact he didn’t take my money just told me what I needed to do – that was really great." Trejo reflects, "he said ‘try getting a hold of the local police department there and see what you can do. If they can’t help he would have gone to the house himself. But it turned out she was able to do that on her own.
"When (Junior's suspected captors) opened the door I showed the lady the flier and told them one of their neighbors called and said they had a puppy that looked like mine. That’s what I told them and when the opened the door I saw my puppy right there. She said she saw the dog on the road and was going to give him back. I know for a fact they were not planning on giving him back because he was wearing a $45 collar," she said, still reverberating from the shock of being let down by her local police.
“I had put all of my trust and hope into the police department I felt like the police are there to help you. Whenever they told me they couldn’t help me and I had put all my energy into getting information in the police and I’d lost all my hope and faith that my dog was coming back and then I found Trailfinders." Trejo says she cried the whole way home and the day after.
According to The Denver Channel, Denver City Council just voted to repeal it's 30 year pit bull ban. The repeal will take 90 days to go into effect so if you're a Denver resident considering pit bull guardianship you may also want to invest in security cameras and/or surveillance systems.
Castle Rock's town council repealed the ban in 2018 and if you reside in Lone Tree, Louisville or Commerce City the ban is still on so you're out of luck. The City of Aurora is still discussing whether or not to repeal it's pit bull ban.
Storyful’s News Intelligence Investigative Journalist, Kelly Jones talks Stalk Scan for private investigations
By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blogger
Kelly Jones is based out West where, as Denver and Colorado Springs area residents already know, snow season runs till June. Add reliable wi-fi and a Wyoming landscape view she boasts, "would make others jealous' and you’ve got a day in the life of a news intelligence investigative journalist.
With viral memes as myriad as hailstorms crossing the western plains in June, the demand for digital forensic investigation expertise is higher than the Platte River during a flash flood. Her job, like the jobs of many private detectives and legal investigators is necessitated by myriad misinformation online.
Kelly Jones' employer is Storyful, a New York based business to business subscription service that functions as the ancillary arm of newsrooms. Their Storyful subscriptions enable newsrooms to avoid wasting the time and energy of their already overtasked and quickly diminishing newsroom staffs in the predatory landscape of hedge fund ownership.
If you follow visual news media, even peripherally, chances are you've come across some of the images or videos that Jones and/or her Storyful colleagues have painstakingly drilled down to the bedrock in order to identify the prototype. Close social media contacts such as family members can then be contacted and asked to confirm the veracity of a viral image or video. Once verified, the images are released to newsroom subscribers who publish them in breaking stories worldwide.
After attending her hands-on photo and video verification seminar at an APME (Associated Press Media Editors) sponsored News Train event for journalists in Aurora, Colorado I had the opportunity to ask Jones the question I always hear private investigators and process servers asking all the time regarding social media audits and peoplefinding searches: can private investigators surreptitiously use social media platforms like Facebook to obtain evidence and information without compromising the results of their investigation? In other words, can you digitally spy on someone without getting caught?
“I can’t see whose looking at my Facebook page or my Twitter account but I can see who follows me or friends me," Jones said when I asked if it is possible to research suspects or persons of interest on Facebook without leaving a digital footprint or inadvertently dropping breadcrumbs that could alert someone to the fact that he or she is being monitored for future litigation purposes?
Jones recommends private detectives use Stalk Scan. Stalk Scan is an open source tool for extracting publicly available information from a Facebook profile. The platform makes the monitoring process faster and more digestible for private eyes researching suspects and/or persons of interest. Plus, it is free and does not require a premium subscription. Anyone with a computer and internet has access. A downside, as she points out, is it “only works if the person has everything public.”
If someone posts a photo near a high profile area and you are trying to locate them, she recommends a reverse image search using Google after honing in on something in the background., like a building, bridge or other distinct landmark.
Crowdtangle, another tool Jones recommends, shows public pages and enables users to create customized lists. Stalk Scan however seem to be the indispensable one for PIs and process servers. “I would use Stalk Scan if I’m doing a social profile,” Jones says adding if she was investigating an accident she would use Google search or Google maps to figure out where surrounding building are and from there, contact those building to try and obtain footage.
My own, cursory experiment with Crowdtangle revealed more information that I thought was publicly available, including the summer events that I r.s.v.p.'d to on Facebook. Were a process server or private investigator wish to track me down they could go on Stalkscan and obtain a relatively reliable set of locations and times I could be found throughout the summer using information I posted on pages I thought only made this kind of information available to friends or to other people who liked that particular page.
It is relatively simple and straightforward however if you need a tutorial I recommend the Stalk Scan explainer video I've embedded below Please like, reshare and hit me up on social media to let me know how your stalkscanning goes!
By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blogger
My cat, Kee-hap, would make a great spy. She's adept in picking up communication subtleties and can hear cans and doors opening from anywhere inside the house. She sneaks up stealthily on birds, bugs and sometimes wild rabbits. Her red and orange tiger stripes will blend beautifully with the fall leaves as early autumn rolls through Colorado.
Quick to endear herself to strangers Kee-hap has joined me for visits with friends in New York, Boston, Washington, D.C. She behaves well on busses and makes friends easily. She is a great car companion and has joined me on road trips through Arizona, Utah, California and New Mexico as well as in and around Colorado. In fact, Kee-hap has visited Denver, Aurora, Colorado Springs, Grand Junction and Castle Rock. She has yet to experience Boulder, Fort Collins, Steamboat Springs and Aspen but invites are always welcome!
It is unlikely that the private investigator and security field will be a viable option for a cat needing to pass the state required juris prudence exam, however, the idea of a feline private investigator is not a new one. In fact there was a government sanctioned program to turn cats into spies in the 1960s.
This summer marked the 70th anniversary of Harry S Truman signing the National Security Act of 1947, which paved the way for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The agency's plan to turn cats into spies, among other things, was revisited by media for the anniversary and according to Time Magazine's Olivia B. Waxman, the CIA began the "Acoustic Kitty" experiment of trying to trick cats up with espionage gear in the 1960s. The plan was to place to place them in locations where they would gather information.
According to "Spycraft: The Secret History of the CIA's Spytechs from Communism to Al-Qaeda. The Office of Research and Development figured out a way to implant a three-quarter-inch transmitter in the loose, fleshy part at the back of a cat's neck, and a microphone in the cat's ear canal. A very thin, almost invisible wire connected the two devices. The size of the transmitter meant the device could only hold very small batteries and only had space to record a limited amount of audio. (One attempted solution was to give a cat a transmitter in its rib cage and an antenna in its tail, the ex-CIA agent Victor Marchetti claimed in The Wizards of Langley: Inside the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology.)
The experiment fell short when agents got hungry the would wander away from the designated location. As a big part of the appeal was the fact that the would not have to be trained to stay focused once they knew which sounds to identify, the tendency to wander off site proved to be a deal breaker there was no way of communicating the goals and requirements of the mission to them.
You can read more about the experience on Time.com and read the primary documents on the study, which were declassified in 2001, here. And if you are looking for a feline team member, Kee-hap is available for assignments, however, she can only be considered for assignments in those states that do not not require PIs be licensed.
By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator
With 8.4 breweries per capita (Colorado is third in the nation) Denver distilleries are no anomaly. Given the mile high city's epic frontier, crime and bootlegger history, however it is surprising that Detective and film noir themed parties are as rare as grizzly bear sightings.
You'll be able to catch one of those rare opportunities on Saturday, July 8th when the Clifford Still Museum hosts DiSTILLed: Noir. The theme draws inspiration from Shade: Clyfford Still/Mark Bradford, an exhibit they are running in collaboration with the Denver Art Museum.
The invitation encourages participants to "dress in your noir best" which may actually make this the best private investigator date night event in the city's post-speakeasy history. The party will also include blackout poetry (popularized by the writer Austin Kleon) and a detail detective game to play in the galleries.
Tickets cost $15 in advance and $20 at the door. As well as getting you access to the party and galleries, entry includes two bands (one of them is blues) spinning spiral video projections, a cash bar with a selection of locally brewed gin, beer and vodka. There will also be a selection of Filipino food and Sleuths with a sweet tooth can hover by the candy station!
The Clyfford Still museum is located at:
1250 Bannock Street
Denver, CO 80204
DiSTILLed Noir takes place Saturday, July 8th from 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm.
Advanced tickets available on the website.
For discounted parking garages near the Museum, guests may use Parking Panda and the promotion code: CLYFFORD15. Metered street parking is also available. Bike racks are located on the south side of the Museum.
If you're planning to drive in from Wyoming, Ft Collins, Boulder, Louisville or Westminster click here for directions. If you're coming from Colorado Springs, Monument, Castle Rock, Centennial, Parker, Lone Tree, Englewood other places south of Denver, drive north on I-25 to the Lincoln-Broadway exit (207).
By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blogger
The series finale of PBS Nature's Spy in the Wild series: meet the spies just concluded on Rocky Mountain PBS and it wasn't really a spy show. For any Colorado private investigator interested in the present and future of the surveillance, however, this will be a fascinating watch. If you're an under cover operative, even better. There is, in fact, so much to be gained from observing the dynamics of the animal world you would probably have a difficult time persuading yourself not to binge watch now that the series itself has aired and is available online in its entirety.
See also: Spies in Nature
After spending the last few weeks watching and making observations we compiled a list of the top spy skills the show taught us for the Denver private investigator community . We assume no responsibility for you using or misusing the skills and/or strategies you are about to read.
Did we miss anything? Keep in mind you may not have the opportunity to put these things to use if you're a Denver private investigator. Even a Colorado private investigator may question how to put it all to use.
You may have trouble finding a local wolf pack, however, there are myriad prairie dogs to be found along the I25 in Aurora, Centennial, Parker, Castle Pines Castle Rock and Monument as you shuttle between the Denver zoo in Denver and the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs to see more of the animals featured in this series. Speaking of which, a giraffe at the Denver zoo just gave birth!!
See the Spy in the Wild series in its entirety, now archived, for yourself onPBS Nature.
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