Guns, Gams & Gumshoes

A defense attorney & PI who also happen to be writers

  • Writing a Sleuth?

    A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths

    "How to Write a Dick is the best work of its kind I’ve ever come across because it covers the whole spectrum in an entertaining style that will appeal to layman and lawmen alike."

    Available on Kindle

  • Copyright Notices

    All rights reserved by Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman. Any use of the content on this site (including images owned by Colleen Collins and/or Shaun Kaufman) requires specific, written authority. Any violations of this reservation will result in legal action.

    It has come to our attention that people are illegally copying and using the black and white private eye at a keyboard image that is used on our site. NOTE: This image is protected by copyright, property of Colleen Collins.

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Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2017: Half-Day Workshop on Private Investigations

Posted by Writing PIs on April 22, 2017

On Thursday, April 27, 2017, the Writing PIs, Shaun Kaufman & Colleen Collins, are presenting a half-day workshop at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference. These “prequel” workshops are for one day only, prior to the official start of the conference on Friday, April 28, 2017. Attendees may register for these prequel workshops separately, or add the prequel workshops to their regular conference registration.

To register: PPWC Prequel Programming

Below is the syllabus for our workshop.

Misdemeanors to Murder: Nothing but the Truth from a Criminal Lawyer & Private Eye

Prequel Afternoon Session #4

Shaun Kaufman and Colleen CollinsPresented by Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman

“Misdemeanors to Murder: Nothing but the Truth from a Criminal Lawyer and Private Eye” covers the history of private eyes, popular misconceptions of PIs, types of investigators, tricks of the trade, crime scenes, the relationship between PIs and police, legalities, and breakdowns of real-life investigative/criminal cases. At the end of presentation will be a Q&A.

At the end of the workshop, there will be a drawing for copies of our nonfiction books How Do Private Eyes Do That? and A Lawyer’s Primer for Writers: From Crimes to Courtrooms.

Syllabus

  1. Introduction
  2. History of the Private Eye
  3. Types of Private Investigators: One Size Doesn’t Fit All
  4. Misconceptions About PIs: Don’t Let Your PI Character Become a Cliché
  5. Tricks of the Trade: Trash Hits, Spy Gear, Apps & More
  6. Breaking the Law: Don’t Make Your PI-Character Look Like a Legal Dummy
  7. PIs and Police: Debunking Myths
  8. PIs and Crime Scenes: Cold Crime Scenes vs. “Hot” Crime Scenes
  9. Examples of Real-Life Investigative Cases: Breakdown of PI’s Tasks (Misdemeanors to Attempted Homicide)
  10. Examples of Real-Life Criminal Litigation Cases: Breakdown of Defense Lawyer’s & PI’s Tasks (Misdemeanors to Murder 1)
  11. Research Sources for Writers: PI Blogs, Websites, Online Magazines
  12. Q&A

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman. Any use of the content requires specific, written authority. All images are either copyrighted or licensed by the authors, who do not have legal authority to share with others, so please do not copy or distribute any images, thank you.

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Book Sale: How Do Private Eyes Do That?

Posted by Writing PIs on April 10, 2017

Click on cover to go to Amazon page

How Do Private Eyes Do That? by Colleen Collins, one of the Writing PIs, is on sale for $1.99 (regular price $5.95) through April 14. Click on the cover to go to the Amazon page.

Book Topics

Subjects include:

  • History of the private eye
  • Public vs. private investigators
  • Several dozen articles covering investigative techniques, complex investigations and other case studies, pop culture private eyes, and more
  • Links to PI blogs, online magazines, and websites
  • Glossary of PI terms.

Praise for How Do Private Eyes Do That?

“A must-have for any writer serious about crafting authentic private eyes. Collins knows her stuff.” ~Lori Wilde, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author

“If you’re looking for the lowdown on private investigations, this is it.” ~Bill Crider, author of the Truman Smith mystery series
“I am an attorney who uses PIs from time to time. This is a great book that details the mentality of PIs.” ~G. McFadden, attorney
“I picked my copy up as a whim to flesh out the background of my own fictional PI and, after reading the book, trashed just about everything I had written. It is a spectacular bargain. It will help sweep out misconceptions, empty the waste bin of trite, worn out clichés, and give you plenty of room for fresh ideas. Man, it’ll save your life.” ~C.M. Briggs, writer
To download your copy, click here. No Kindle? No problem. Amazon offers free apps for reading Kindle books on your browser, computer (both PCs and Macs), and a variety of other devices.

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins. Any use of the content requires specific, written authority. All images are either copyrighted or licensed by the author, who does not have legal authority to share with others, so please do not copy or distribute any images, thank you.

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Senate Resolution May Eventually Allow ISPs to Sell Sensitive Customer Data

Posted by Writing PIs on March 23, 2017

Browsing History and Your Privacy

March 23, 2017: Today the Senate passed a resolution that would overturn an FCC rule that requires internet service providers (ISPs) to get customers’ permission before ISPs sell sensitive consumer data, such as browsing histories. You can read more in the LA Times article Senate votes to kill privacy rules meant to protect people’s sensitive data from their Internet providers.

Mystery writers often joke that if the government ever looked at their browsing histories for stories, the writer would look like he/she wanted to murder someone through his/her searches on poisoning, bombing, knifing, strangling, and on and on…

But it’s not so funny that a Minnesota judge recently approved a warrant to retrieve people’s Google searches on variations of a victim’s name over a 5-week timeframe. Google was to provide the court each searcher’s name, email address, account information, and IP address. Think about that. What if you had Googled a name of a second cousin, a potential employer, even the name of a character in a book, and what you typed just happened to be similar to that victim’s name? Your name and personal information would be provided to the court as a possible suspect.

But, there’s no need to panic. Instead…

Be Proactive with Your Internet Privacy

The Senate’s resolution hasn’t gone to legislation yet, of course. So this is an opportunity to think about ways to protect your internet privacy and browsing history. For example, are you using a private search engine? Good. If not, consider using a private search engine like DuckDuckGo or StartPage.

Articles on Internet Privacy

Some private search engines, such as StartPage, also encourage users to take additional steps to limit cookies as a second line of defense. I wrote about how to set up Do Not Track options, add-ons, extensions, and more in my article Tips for Keeping the Cookie Monster Out of Your Browser.

Below are more articles that offer tips for protecting your internet privacy:

How to Browse the Internet Anonymously by Natasha Stokes (Techlicious)

One setting to protect your privacy on your iPhone or iPad by Mark Jones (Komando.com)

Computer security tips for whistleblowers and sources (The Guardian)

Have a good week, Writing PIs

 All rights reserved by Colleen Collins. Any use of the content requires specific, written authority. All images are licensed by the author, who does not have legal authority to share with others so please do not copy or distribute those images, thank you.

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International Women’s Day: Honoring Female Investigators

Posted by Writing PIs on March 8, 2017

International Women’s Day has been observed since the early 1900s. On this day, thousands of events occur around the world to celebrate women and their accomplishments.

For International Women’s Day, I’m honoring several women PIs through articles written about them to radio shows hosted by them. This post isn’t meant to be all-inclusive by any means, just a cross-section of outstanding women investigators, including their fictional counterparts.

Radio Shows: New and Old

Below are two radio shows, one hosted by a contemporary female PI, the other about a old-time radio female private eye.

PI’s Declassified

California PI Francie Kohler hosts this weekly Internet radio show where she interviews private investigators and other professionals in associated fields. The show airs every Thursday at 9 a.m. Pacific Time: PI’s Declassified.

Old-Time Radio: Candy Matson Yukon 2-8209cover ebook 2000px longest side

This old-time radio show kicked off in 1949. Every show opened with a ringing telephone with a female answering, “Candy Matson, YU 2-8209,” after which the theme song “Candy” played. According to the Internet Archive, Old Time Radio (OTR) researchers view this radio show as the best of the female private eyes. It ran until 1951. Listen to single episodes here: Candy Matson YUkon 2-8209.

Articles About Real-Life Female Private Investigators

Possible sketch of Kate Warne, the first U.S. female PI

Possible sketch of Kate Warne, the first U.S. female PI

Below is a sampling of articles written about female PIs:

The First U.S. Female Private Eye: Kate Warne (The Zen Man)

Q&A: Norma Tillman–Right and Wrong (Pursuit Magazine)

What Does It Take to Be an International Private Eye (interview with international private investigator Yin Johnson and her husband Phil, via RC Bridgestock Blog)

The PI Wears Prada: One Woman’s Midlife Career Change (What’s Next)

What Is It Like Being a Female Private Investigator? (The Zen Man)

This Private Investigator is One of the Few Jersey Women Working as Sleuths (NJ.com)

Articles About Fictional Female Private Eyes

There are many entertaining female “eyes” in literature, going back to the mid 1800s.

Dangerous Dames: A Timeline of Some of the Significant Female Eyes (The Thrilling Detective – if you haven’t checked out The Thrilling Detective, you’re missing out on one of the most comprehensive and entertaining sites about fictional private eyes on the ‘net)

Female Private Eyes in Fiction: From Lady Detectives to Hard-Boiled Dames (by Guns, Gams & Gumshoes’s Colleen for Festivale magazine)

Did you know a well-known writer of private eye novels based a female PI character on a real one? Check out the interview “Susan Daniels: If Sam Spade Had Been Samantha – Cleveland’s Female Private Eye”

Have a great week, Writing PIs

Click on cover to go to Amazon page

Click on cover to go to Amazon page

“As an experienced private detective and a skilled storyteller, Colleen Collins is the perfect person to offer a glimpse into the lives of real female P.I.s”
~ Kim Green, managing editor of Pursuit Magazine: The Magazine of Professional Investigators

 

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins. Any use of the content requires specific, written authority.

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The Witness Who Came in from the Cold

Posted by Writing PIs on February 23, 2017

black-white-woman-along-at-table-drinking-gratisograph-ryan-mcguire

(Image courtesy of Ryan McGuire)

We worked this case as an investigative team, with our results helping a defense lawyer to obtain a dismissal for his client. Also, we worked this case the old-fashioned way, on foot, as a key witness was afraid for her identity to be traced digitally (email, phone, etc.).

Late One Summer Night…

…a resident in a home near a park called 911 after hearing sounds of yelling and fighting (the caller couldn’t see the park itself as the view was obstructed by other homes). When police arrived at the park, they found three local gang members with knife wounds, lying on the ground. The gang members said two rival gang members from another city had stabbed them. One ran away, whereabouts unknown. The other had flagged down a car for a ride (they gave the license plate and description of that car.) Police found no weapons on the three gang members—it was later learned that others in their gang had gathered all the weapons and left before the police arrived.

Charge: Felony 3, First-Degree Assault

Police found the described car parked at a home in the neighborhood. The driver admitted he’d given a ride to a young man (whom we’ll call “E”), who had flagged him down and asked for a lift to a friend’s home. The police went to that address and found E, who matched the description given by the stabbed gang members.

handcuffed-hands

With no witnesses to confirm E’s claim of self-defense, police arrested him (image licensed by Colleen Collins)

Although E claimed self-defense, saying the rival gang had harassed, punched, and threatened him with their weaponry, the police charged him with the stabbings, a felony 3, first-degree assault.

Following the code of gang members, E refused to give any information about his fellow gang member who’d run away (later we learned this gang member had returned to his car and driven back to the neighboring city that night).

Goal: Find a Witness

E hired a defense lawyer (for whom we worked as defense investigators at the time). The lawyer informed the court and opposing counsel that our client was claiming self-defense.

Because E refused to identify his fellow gang member, the case lacked an independent corroborating witness. Based on the 911 call, people in the neighborhood had obviously heard the fighting, but no one had yet come forward to say that E had fought in self-defense.

As investigators we could have driven to the neighboring city and tried to root out this gang-member-witness—yeah, that would have been an easy, fruitful enterprise (not).

Bottom line: we had one weapon, the old “neighborhood canvas” or knock and talk.

Fear of Gang Retaliation

Problem was, people didn’t want to talk. An elderly man confided that people were afraid to talk out of fear of gang retaliation.

Next, we printed posters asking anyone who had seen an incident on [date] and [park name] to call [phone number], and the conversation would remain confidential. Whenever we’ve posted flyers like this, we use a dedicated, virtual phone number (meaning we set up a unique number that can’t be traced, and rings through to one of our office phones).

Then we walked up and down the sidewalks of this east Denver gang-infested, lower middle-class neighborhood, sticking our posters on street light poles, the fence around the park, and other such public spots (didn’t leave any on people’s doors as we didn’t want any third parties later assuming so-and-so, who had had a flyer on their door, was probably the snitch).

The Clock Was Ticking

Days later, we began to panic. E had to decide on a 5- to 12-year prison-only plea offer in the coming week, and no one had called us.

One late afternoon, we got a call from a coffee shop phone number in a different part of the city. The caller identified herself as a mother who lived near the park, but refused to give her name, or any digital means of contacting her (email address, cell phone number, etc.) as she was afraid of being traced. She said she’d seen local gang members threatening and taunting E, who at first had run from them, but after being cornered, fought back in self-defense. She wanted to do the right thing and “help that young man.”

A Secret Night Meeting

black-and-white-forest-light

The witness met us in the park shadows (image courtesy of Ryan McGuire)

She agreed to meet us in the park, at night, and point out where the young men had fought. We arrived at the park one weekday night and waited. An older woman walked toward us from a corner of the park.

In the shadows, she pointed out where she’d seen E running from the others, and where E had ended up with his back to a fence. We gave her our lawyer’s card and asked her to call him, and that the lawyer would protect her identity by sealing her statement in the court file.

D.A. Reviews Investigative Report

With a reliable, independent witness supporting E’s story, the defense lawyer took our interview and case report to the prosecution, who agreed to dismiss the charges against E.

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman, and any use of the content requires specific, written authority. Please do not copy/distribute mages licensed by Colleen Collins as she does not have the authority to share with others. All other images are in the public domain, with the caveat by the photographer, Ryan McGuire, to please credit them with his name.

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2017 Shamus Awards, Private Eye Writers of America: Submissions Now Open

Posted by Writing PIs on January 11, 2017

fedora black and white

PRIVATE EYE WRITERS OF AMERICA ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS

FOR 2017 SHAMUS AWARDS

For Works First Published in the U.S. in 2016

Following are the categories for the Private Eye Writers of America 2017 Shamus Awards for private eye novels and short stories first published in the United States in 2016.  The awards will be presented in the fall of 2017 at Bouchercon.

DEADLINE: Submissions must be postmarked by March 31, 2017. No extensions can be given.

Shamus Committees will forward their final list to the Shamus Awards Chair by May 31, 2017.

ELIGIBILITY: Eligible works must feature as a main character a person PAID for investigative work but NOT employed for that work by a unit of government.  These include traditionally licensed private investigators; lawyers and reporters who do their own investigations; and others who function as hired private agents.  These do NOT include law enforcement officers, other government employees or amateur, uncompensated sleuths.

Independently published books (Indies) may be submitted to the Best Original Paperback PI Novel category.

SUBMISSIONS; Please send one copy of each eligible work to ALL members of the appropriate committee. Do NOT submit a book to more than one committee.

There is no application fee and no submission form, as a simple cover letter will suffice. If you have any questions, please e-mail Gay Toltl Kinman at gaykinman@gaykinman.com BEFORE submitting.

BEST HARDCOVER PI NOVEL: A book-length work of fiction published in hardcover in 2016 that is NOT the author’s first published P.I. novel.

BEST FIRST PI NOVEL: A book-length work of fiction, in hardcover or paperback, first published in 2016 that is the author’s first published novel featuring a private investigator as a main character.

BEST ORIGINAL PAPERBACK PI NOVEL: A book-length work of fiction first published as a paperback original in 2016 that is NOT the author’s first P.I. novel. Paperback reprints of previously published novels are NOT eligible.

BEST PI SHORT STORY: A work of fiction of 20,000 words or fewer.  Stories first published in an earlier year and reprinted in a magazine, anthology or collection in 2016, are NOT eligible.

(If you’re interested in submitting for a category, please contact Gay Toltl Kinman at gaykinman@gaykinman.com for the mailing address)

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Don’t Make Hiring a Private Eye One of Your New Year’s Resolutions

Posted by Writing PIs on January 7, 2017

We once got a call from a woman who wanted to know how her abusive ex-boyfriend had learned her new home address. We ran a quick search of her address on Google, and guess what? She’d listed it on an online resume, which meant anybody could find that home address by simply searching for her name.

Let’s go over a few resolutions you can make to protect your confidential information so you don’t need to add “Hire a Private Investigator” to that list.

Tip #1: Stop sharing your home address

It’s your home, your private residence, the center of your family life — you don’t need to share this address with anybody other than friends, family and trusted business contacts. One way to protect your home address is to provide your business address instead.

Another way to protect your home address is to purchase a private mailbox from a US post office, or from a private mailbox service such as The UPS Store, then use this address on forms, registrations, mailings, and so on. Private mailbox companies often provide you with a “street” address (where your mailbox is the suite number) so those forms that say “You must enter a street address, not a post office box” will be satisfied that you’re entering a street address (although it’s not).

Tip #2: Don’t announce your location

Turn off location services on your smartphones

Turn off location services on your smartphone

It’s all the rage for people to automatically announce their location through social media sites (such as Twitter) and other online sites. If someone has decided to break into your residence, or confront you, or confront somebody who’s still at your residence (while you’re at your location), or conduct some other not-in-your-best-interest activity, don’t help them by letting them know your location. So when you see those prompts (“Click here so people can know your location!”) don’t click.

Also, it’s a good idea to turn off location services on your smartphone so you are not giving away your real-time location. Also, photos you take with your smartphone can record your location via embedded geotagging. This 2014 article in Forbes, Don’t Let Stalkers, Abusers, and Creeps Track Your Phones Location, contains instructions for turning off location services.

Tip #3: Don’t give out your phone number

It's possible to track a person's address via their phone number

Did you know that it’s possible to track a person’s address via their phone number?

It’s relatively easy to find home addresses from phone numbers. It’s just as easy for you to protect that number, and your personal information associated with it, by using a virtual phone number. What’s that? A virtual number is a regular number (area code + number, such as 123-456-7789) that you can set up to ring through to your real number. Then, you give out the virtual number when a stranger, or someone other than family and trusted friends, asks for your phone number. When somebody calls that virtual number, you answer, and nobody knows it’s not your real number.

If someone attempts a trace on that phone number (to find the name/address it’s registered to), they won’t find it (that is, as long as you haven’t posted your name as being associated with that number somewhere on the Internet). Basic virtual number services typically cost anywhere from $6.95 to $10.95 a month (extra features, such as fax services, cost more). You can sign up for a virtual number at sites like Vumber and our personal favorite, Phone.com.

That’s it.  Three tips to protect your confidential information in the new year.


Like this article? It and other investigative articles by this author are in How Do Private Eyes Do That?

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins, and any use of the content requires specific, written authority.All images in this article are licensed by the author, who does not have the authority to share with others, so please do not copy, distribute, or otherwise use any of these images.

Posted in Don't Make Hiring a PI One of Your New Year's Resolutions, Finding Names Behind Phone Numbers, Nonfiction book: HOW DO PRIVATE EYES DO THAT? | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off on Don’t Make Hiring a Private Eye One of Your New Year’s Resolutions

Funny Holiday Investigation Tales

Posted by Writing PIs on December 21, 2016

One of the Writing PIs and Santa (image copyrighted)

One of the Writing PIs and Santa (image copyrighted)

 

Not all private investigations are serious affairs—sometimes they’re funny. Below are two of those cases, along with a third that doesn’t involve investigators, but a deputy district attorney and a very drunk, and surprised, young man.

“I want my husband served his divorce papers on Christmas day–tell him they’re his gift from me.”

We had a thoroughly irked wife who’d found out about her husband’s blatant philandering, and made a special request through her divorce attorney: she wanted the cheater served on Christmas Day. Had to be served on Christmas Day, no other day would do.  To top it off, he was working at a local jail on Christmas Day. So, we showed up at the jail and politely asked to see him. Minutes later, he appeared–a handsome, cocky 30-something–who took the envelope we handed him, opened it, read that his wife was filing for divorce, and after thanking us, said,”This is the best Christmas gift!”

“My husband’s in the alley going for Krispy Kremes—serve him, quick!”

Another wife wanting a divorce served. Seemed her husband, who she still lived with, had done her wrong and she wanted him served ASAP, which happened to be the day after Christmas. We showed up at the front door with the papers, rang the bell, and the wife (our client) answered. She whispered that her husband was pretending to take a shower because he was afraid she wanted to have him served divorce papers, and would we mind coming back in a half hour when he did his usual Saturday morning run for Krispy Kremes? We said sure, we’d come back.

Thirty minutes later, we parked in the alley behind the house and, to our surprise, saw the wife running down the alley, waving frantically at us, yelling, “He’s pulling out of the driveway any minute!”

We happened to be parked in front of the driveway, so when the garage door opened and he attempted to back out, there we were, papers in hand. He refused to open his driver’s window, so we placed the papers on his windshield, told him he was served, and drove away.  We suppose he left and got his Krispy Kremes after that.

“Stop or I’ll shoot, wherever you are!”

A young man on New Year’s Eve had been drinking with some friends and wandered away from the bar shortly after midnight. That he could still walk after all he’d consumed was a miracle. He ended up walking up the driveway of a house that he thought he still lived in (but, in fact, he’d moved from years ago). Finding the front door locked, he went to the back porch and opened the sliding glass door. After entering the living room, he curled up on the couch and began playing with the video game console in front of him.

Moments later, the current owner of the house, who happened to be legally blind (as well as being a deputy D.A. for that jurisdiction), heard noises, got his gun, and walked into the living room yelling, “Stop!  Get down, wherever you are, I have a gun!”

Chaos ensued as the highly intoxicated young man fell over more furniture than the legally blind D.A. with the gun did. Fortunately, the D.A.’s young son (hiding in a back room) had already dialed 911, so the police arrived before more damage could be done. Although charges were filed, the D.A. recommended all charges be dropped and the young man undergo in-patient alcohol treatment.

Hopefully your holidays are less eventful and more fun!

Posted in holiday investigation stories, PI Topics | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Real-Life Private Detective Tales: Three Memorable Christmas Investigations

Posted by Writing PIs on December 12, 2016

Christmas horizontal wreath

As Christmas approaches, we remember a few of our favorite investigation stories that occurred during the holidays, from the silly to the heartfelt.

Story #1: Serving Christmas Divorce Papers to a Happy Jailer

Several years ago, an angry soon-to-be-ex-wife told her attorney that she wanted divorce papers served on her soon-to-be-ex-husband on Christmas Day. No other day would do. Not Christmas Eve, not the day after Christmas. Had to be Christmas Day. The Happy Holidaysdivorce papers were to be her Christmas gift to the husband whom she had recently learned was keeping a girlfriend on the side.

The attorney contacted us and asked if we’d be willing to fulfill her Christmas wish. After hearing the story, we said yes. The husband was a deputy in a local jail, and was scheduled to work on Christmas Day.

That day, we drove to the jail, politely asked for him, and after he confirmed his identity, we served him the papers.

He read the first page, looked up at us, grinned, then exclaimed, “This might be the best Christmas gift I’ve ever had!”

Story #2: The Rancher Who Was Staring at 48 Years in Prison

Eight years ago, an attorney hired us to prove that his client (who became our client as well) had not aimed and fired a gun directly at a couple who had intruded on his land. In September, the rancher had been charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder and was currently  incarcerated. The D.A. was hot to find him guilty, which meant our client might not see freedom for 24 years minimum, 48 years maximum.

This rancher had never done anything criminal in his entire life. Had never even gotten a speeding ticket. He and his family were devastated at the accusations, and the possibility of his being in prison for decades to come.

detective with flashlight

(Image licensed, please do not copy or distribute)

This was a physically demanding, gritty case where we searched acres and acres of cold ranch land (a little over 800 acres to be exact) in bone-chilling late fall and winter temperatures. We used metal detectors to meticulously search laid-out crime scene areas where we believed (after consulting with a ballistics expert) the slugs may have fallen. It was critical to find these slugs—their placement would show the rancher had fired warning shots, not intentionally lethal shots.

Burrs worked their way up through the soles of our shoes, our bodies ached from hours of bending over, searching the ground, fighting disappointment whenever we hit false leads (years ago, parts of the land had been a dump, so the metal detectors kept pinging that they’d found metal, and we’d dig to find not slugs, but rusted bedsprings, nails, and the like).

Then one day, we found the first slug! Then the second, the third…finally the fourth! Out there on those hundreds of acres of chilly prairie, we whooped and hollered with joy! The rancher’s mother heard us and ran, tears streaming down her face, to see if we’d found the evidence to prove her son’s innocence.

The D.A. dropped the more serious charges, and the rancher was released on a much-lower bond on Christmas Eve. His family had an especially meaningful Christmas that year.

Story #3: The Young Father Facing Months in Jail

handcuffed hands

(Image licensed, please do not copy or distribute)

One Christmas Eve, Shaun (Gums, Gams and Gumshoes co-author, former PI, and now a criminal defense attorney) went to court for the initial appearance of a young father accused of a restraining order violation on his ex-wife. Without a lower bond, he could lose his job, his home, and miss opportunities to spend time with his sons.  The young father, who told Shaun he was innocent of the charges, was facing up to six months in jail if found guilty on all counts.

Shaun pointed out to the judge that, at worst, the young man was guilty of contacting his ex-wife so that he could obtain some much-needed antibiotic medicine for the youngest son, who had a bad ear infection. The judge saw through the ex-wife’s hysterics and false accusations, and set bail at a Christmas Eve bargain of $50 cash.

We were asleep last night when awoken by the beeping of Shaun’s cell phone. The young man had texted Shaun to let him know he’d been released from jail and would be spending Christmas with his sons. We didn’t mind being woken up—it was a terrific way to start Christmas Day.

For those who celebrate it, have a wonderful Christmas, Writing PIs

The Zen Man by Colleen Collins

Click on above banner to go to Amazon page (copyright Colleen Collins)

All rights reserved by Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman. Please do not copy/distribute any images noted as copyrighted or licensed. 

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Five Holiday Safety Tips

Posted by Writing PIs on December 4, 2016

Holiday Safety Tips (Image Licensed by Colleen Collins)

As the holidays approach, our work load invariably picks up as more criminal cases come into the office. Sometimes on a festive evening, such as New Year’s Eve, we’ll look at each other and say, “Wonder what’s happening tonight that brings in work over the next few weeks or months?” Notice we don’t say “Wonder if something will happen…”

Five Safety Tips

Below are a few safety tips to keep you and yours from hiring attorneys or private investigators over the next few weeks.

Tip #1: When you go shopping, lock your car. It sounds so simple, yet you’d be surprised at the number of people who forget to do this. People get preoccupied with shopping, holiday parties, who’s picking up Great-Aunt Sarah on Christmas Eve…and they forget to lock their car doors. That makes easy pickings for thieves looking through car windows—if they see a package, it can be theirs within seconds. Several years ago, Sergeant Foley of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department claimed that nearly 50 percent of the car break-ins in his area were due to cars being left unlocked.

Tip #2: Park in well-lighted areas. Don’t tempt a thief by parking where there’s little or no lighting.

An unlocked door is an invitation to a criminal

Unlocked Doors Are Open Invitations to Criminals (Image Licensed by Colleen Collins)

Tip #3: Avoid parking on side streets. Vehicles parked on secluded side streets are easy prey for thieves. Also, with increased holiday traffic, and drivers preoccupied with cell phone conversations, passengers, or even eating while driving, your vehicle might be the victim of a hit-and-run.

Tip #4: Drink responsibly.

You Don't Want to Wear One of these Bracelets This Holiday

You Don’t Want to Wear One of These Bracelets This Holiday (Image Licensed by Colleen Collins)

Yeah, this sounds like one of those ads, but it is smart advice. Many of our criminal investigation cases involve people drinking too much and doing something stupid that they regret for years to come.

Watch the other guy, too —is someone getting blitzed and out of control at a party? Be proactive and make sure he/she has a sober driver to take them home. Or call a taxi and pay the driver upfront for the person’s ride home, which might be the best holiday gift they get. Also if a party is getting out of control, it’s a good time to leave.

Tip #5: Be aware. Perhaps the best advice is to be aware and use common sense.  Don’t carry so many packages to your vehicle that you can’t quickly reach your cell phone or car keys. Shop in groups rather than alone. If you have a choice to shop during the day or at night, pick daylight hours. Don’t leave items visible in your car that might tempt a thief. Have fun at parties, but drink responsibly and avoid those who aren’t.

Wishing you a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season!

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A heartfelt, humorous, romantic-mystery story about a down-on-her-luck lawyer, a special agent visited by the past, and an arson dog named Maggie who join forces to rescue the holiday spirit!

“Mistletoe and Murder in Las Vegas” is Colleen Collins at her best. It’s got the charm and humor of the best romantic comedies combined with a genuinely good mystery–an unbeatable combination. I couldn’t put the book down once I started it.” ~Nancy Warren, USA Today Bestselling Author

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All rights reserved by Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman. Please do not copy/distribute any images noted as copyrighted or licensed. Images noted as in the public domain are copyright-free and yours to steal.

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