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Detective, Part 5

Maxwell Allen Investigation Bureau, was an agency founded in 1938 by “Scoop Allen,” a former reporter for the Courier Journal. He got his name by being the reporter who got all of the big stories, called “scoops.” After all reporters have the same skill set as detectives. The police agencies have access to information denied to reporters and detectives. Private investigators and reporters have to pound the streets making inquiries. Allen left the paper and became a detective specializing in questioned documents. He was an expert, and second in command was a retired CID officer. While working on a case I once had to walk a quarter mile down a railroad track at night, to surveille the rear area of a house, because we were hired to secretly make a complete floor plan. I parked at a church which a week earlier had been broken into, and the pastor called the police. An officer ran my tags before I got back, and after checking my I.D., we shook hands and left.  Big city banks investigate employees to find out who their friends are. Bank robbers will lease or even buy a house in the neighborhood of a bank manager just to learn about the bank’s operation. Television and Radio Stations did the same thing. I was called to pick up a dossier on a local Louisville, T. V. News Station employee and follow him. I was given information on where to park, the second row, third space behind Kunz’s Restaurant on Fourth Street in Louisville from that vantage I could not only see his car, but pull out unseen as he left. I watched him start the car and drive away. I followed.  It was winter and light faded quickly as downtown traffic, thick with shoppers became heavy. It was nearly dark by the time we got to 3rd and St. Catherine Streets, where he picked up another man who was standing on the corner. Back then we took photos, but it was not advisable to use flash cameras, because the subject would see the flash and be alerted. We were taught “available light photography.” The idea was to photograph the subject’s car, with some identifying sign or landmark in the background. Then if possible, pose a watch face where the time could be recorded not only in the surveillance notes but also in the photo. More often, than not the photos were of poor quality, but sometimes enhanced a little by a pin-light and always with a wide-open aperture, they occasionally became evidence. I used a Minolta.  He drove with another man to some old fraternity houses across from the U of L campus, and parked. The houses have been gone for years. The two men, were exchanging paper work of some kind about 60 feet distant, after watching for an hour or so, I called to get some direction. Should I wait and keep running up the bill or breakoff until tomorrow? The CID guy said he knew who the other man was and that the subject was supposed to drop him off in that neighborhood, but for me to go up to his car and take a photo of the license plate with whatever background was handy and then photograph the subject’s face with the other man, and clock out. I pointed out he would see me and when he did, he might object and get mad. If so, what should I do? He said, “You’ll think of something,” and hung up the phone.  I parked my car on the street, and photographed the rear of the auto with a fraternity building sign in the background. Then I stood up walked to the driver side door and snapped a photo of the men. The driver yelled through the window angerly, “What are you doing??” I said, “I saw your car parked here and it’s just like my girlfriend’s. I thought she was cheating on me, I’m sorry.” He reluctantly accepted my story and apology. I walked off just happy my pants were still dry. That CID officer taught me a lesson, expect the unexpected and like a Boy Scout be prepared. (Next week, learn tricks of the trade)

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