Listen: The Case of The Invisible Thief
He lived on a mountain in western Colorado. I carefully negotiated the long, gravel road and found myself winding my way towards the top. The new fallen snow blanketed the pine trees and made the road somewhat treacherous. I looked out my car window at the drop off at the edge of the road and realized if my car slid off and down the cliff my body probably wouldn’t be found until spring. As I crested the summit I recognized the subject’s residence sitting on an acre of land clustered near several homes. I exited my car and met Fred at his front door. He was warm, friendly and graciously invited me into his home. As we sat at his kitchen table he began to tell me about the recent burglary.
Fred presented me with a list of everything that was stolen. He answered my questions thoroughly and was most helpful. However, as I interviewed him I began to suspect that perhaps there was more going on than just a simple burglary. For starters, there were no signs of forced entry. The security cameras that monitored the exterior of his home were suspiciously blank on the time and day of the burglary. Fred said the local sheriff came out to investigate however a police report was never filed.
Throughout our conversation Fred continually stated (referring to the sheriff and others) “they all think I’m crazy.” He repeated it several times. There is a famous Sherlock Holmes dictum that states, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Faced with the odd facts surrounding Fred’s burglary. I began to consider an alternative explanation.
It wasn’t until I spoke with Fred’s next door neighbor and Fred’s daughter that I realized what had occurred. Or, not occurred, as the case may be. There was no sign of forced entry and the sheriff never filed a police report because…wait for it. The burglary never happened. The security video was blank, not due to some malevolent mysterious force, but because Fred had evidently turned the machine off. You see, Fred was suffering from the very early stages of dementia. About 40 minutes into his statement I started to believe that this was a possibility. My suspicions were later confirmed by his son. Fred had sold and given away the so-called stolen merchandise within the previous year. But as the weeks turned into months his medical condition caused him to forget. Fred simply convinced himself that he had been the victim of a burglary. He filed the theft claim with his insurance company. He presented receipts and a list of all the stolen items. He was very convincing.
As you take statements, particularly involving questionable theft claims, you’re looking for inconsistencies. You’re looking for situations such as no forced entry. You’re looking for claims filed on brand new policies. Like Sherlock Holmes, you’re looking for the facts. And even if the remaining facts are improbable, they still may point to the truth.
Until next time,
This is Scott Fulmer, the Utah Gumshoe, reminding you the game…if afoot!
About The Utah Gumshoe Podcast
The Utah Gumshoe Podcast follows the real-life exploits, riveting case stories, investigative tips and insightful advice of Scott Fulmer, The Utah Gumshoe. Scott is a 20 year veteran Utah private investigator, surveillance expert and President/CEO of intellUTAH, a private investigation firm based in Salt Lake City.
He has written numerous articles on investigative and surveillance techniques that have appeared in PInow.com and other industry journals. He is a decorated combat veteran of the Persian Gulf War where he served with the famous 2nd Armored Division (Hell on Wheels). Whether you're a novice or an experienced investigator this is the podcast for you.