P.I. & PROCESS SERVER'S TALES...
are some stories that
we have told no one other than our therapists (grin) until now!
(Or dreamed of late in the night...even putting the pillow over
our heads wouldn't make them go away!)
If you have additional
Private Detective or Process Server tales to share, please feel
free to share them! (While basic details will be accurate
enough to make the stories "real," names and basic details will
be altered to protect the identities of the subjects and cases.)
Tales from other Florida Private Detectives or Process
Servers as well as elsewhere in the world are welcome!
please call us:
Or, email us
Florida P.I.: Baker Street
Couldn't serve this one!
This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime things, something you
can tell only your very best friends...and even
then...you can't be sure they'll believe you!
I had to serve a summons on a family that had been involved
in an accident earlier in the year. Having what I thought would
be a good address, 613 Adams Road, just off U.S. 1 near Vero
Beach, I toodled out there,
confidant of an easy service. Only, the address simply was not
on the street. Just a vacant lot that looked like a
construction site, all dug up.
Somewhat disappointed, I decided to return to town along a
Up ahead of me, I saw the flashing amber lights of a slow-moving
vehicle that said "Over-sized Load." It was a house being moved
from one location to another. Groan.
Grumbling at the delay, I pulled up close to the huge truck that
was trundling a large farmhouse down the roadway. I almost
couldn't believe my eyes! Above the door of the truck-borne
house, clearly visible, were the numbers, 613 -- the very
house I was supposed to serve!!!
There was "nobody home," of course, but I can only imagine the
puzzlement of the attorney who had the paper issued when he read
on his Return of Non-Service the following words: "Couldn't
complete service because subject house was rolling down the
--L. Michinak, CPS
Is her back really injured?
Greetings from not-so-sunny South Dakota,
A few years ago I worked as a private investigator in Nebraska.
I was given a worker's compensation case by an insurance
company. During my prelimenary check on the subject, I found
that I was going to have my work cut out for me.
The subject lived on a street with only two other houses other
than her own. Each home was situated about half a city block
from each other and there was no vegetation of any kind in this
area. How was I going to get my video footage of the subject
doing whatever she was doing?
The woman was supposed to be suffering from a severe back
injury, which "kept her from her job" as a receptionist (she
actually injured her back at work?).
I made a couple of trips through the neighborhhood on a couple
of different days to see who might be home in the area and when.
During the second of these trips, I noticed that the subjects
husband was out in their side yard with a "Bobcat", a piece of
construction equipment similar to a small bulldozer or tractor.
I stopped the car and took a look at what was going on. I
could not believe what I saw next...the "disabled" subject was
in the yard using a shovel to move heavy stones and earth from
one spot to another, clearly using her back...and enjoying her
Thinking quickly, Ii grabbed my video recorder and walked toward
the subject's husband. I told him I was an architecture and
construction management student at the local college.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Private Investigators are, as a rule, among
the most honest and responsible of citizens. However, as in
this case, it is often necessary to go "undercover" and assume
I informed the fellow of my "student" status and that I was to
get footage of different kinds of construction equipment for a
class project, and i would be grateful if he would allow me to
film him. Surprisingly, he said "Of course!" and invited me onto
his land. While filming his equipment and asking a few questions
to find out what they were doing, I moved the camera a little to
the left and filmed his wife, the Subject, doing exactly what
she should not have been able to, using that darn shovel to move
those big heavy rocks. The husband informed me that the subject
was expecting a large settlement and that they were building a
large shed and workshop for the husband.
Sure this may be a great story on how to create a diamond from a
lump of coal
but the ending is worse: After getting all of my footage, I
returned to my office and phoned the insurance company to inform
them of what I had. I was told that they didnt want it because
they had already left me a message to stop the investigation.
Because of the cost and the fact that the case had been assigned
to me after another investigator had botched it, the company
had already made the decision to pay the claim. Our contract was
ended. I told the company that they should not pay the claim
because of the information I had for them and since it only took
me about an hour to get the footage, I would waive the fees from
the time they had left the message until I called them.
had worked for free to get the footage and it wasn't even going
to be used!
Oh well, chalk that one up to experience!
I am now working out of South Dakota, since I moved my family up
here from Nebraska.
Take care and good snooping!
Here's one from our own archives here at Baker Street
Investigations. While this isn't typical of all P.I.s, here on
Florida's Treasure Coast in the 19th Judicial Circuit, we find
it convenient for all our private detectives to also be
Certified Process Servers.
One of the rules is that we Private Investigators are licensed
by the Florida Department of State, which authorizes us to
go "undercover" or wear disguises, hide in trees, etc., to
further our investigations. But, Florida Certified Process
Servers may not do this. Florida Certified Process Servers may
not use any form of disguise, for example, to serve the
Once, the Chief Judge in the circuit commented how nice it would
be if you could pretend to be a pizza delivery person and have
the Summons inside the pizza box. Unfortunately, the statutes
do not permit this. However....
We had a particularly difficult subject who needed to be served
in a federal consumer fraud case, and time was of the essence.
At an Executive Team meeting here at Baker Street
Investigations, we commented that it was too bad that we
couldn't put the Summons in a pizza box as hinted at by the
Our agency director, Investigator Marcia Gillings, however,
asked what would be wrong with actually
That's exactly what we did. We called a local pizza delivery
service, ordered a nice cheese and pepperoni pizza, and had it
delivered, for real, to the subject's apartment. When the hard-
to-serve subject opened the door, there we were right behind the
pizza guy, Federal Summons in hand. He was served (twice,
actually, once with pepperoni, once with Constitutional due
What's in a Name?
As we have mentioned elsewhere here on our Baker Street
website, we private detectives have to go "undercover" here on
the Florida Treasure Coast, where we have our national
headquarters, and in the Palm Beaches, as well as in Central
Florida where we do an enormous amount of investigator work.
It's often necessary for Baker Street Investigations' private
eyes to be more or less "invisible" and, sometimes, going
undercover is for the birds!
We knew that we were going have to answer the inevitable
question from well-meaning and alert neighbors: "what are you
doing in our ultra-exclusive neighborhood parked by our lake for
several hours?" A great question, actually, since Baker Street
Investigations also teaches security techniques nationwide.
Let's see. What could we say that would adequately explain
private eyes being parked outside million dollar homes, armed
with binoculars, listening devices, video equipment?
We came up with an innovative private detective plan: we would
disguise ourselves as member of a Sandhill Crane nesting and
mating habits research team. (Most everybody loves Sandhill
Cranes and their cousins, Great Blue Herons!) Our Graphic
Department provided research forms and questionnaires, full-
color pictures with front and
side views of these wonderful, large birds and...of
course...Research Tech I.D. badges.
Oddly, in spite of their names, Sandhill Cranes are pretty much
aquatic and are generally found in shallow water, on docks, or
sometimes in yards close to the water. Nobody we have run into
has ever seen one on a sandhill...or...at least
not until the day of our undercover operation (see picture!).
It's always exciting and often fun working for Baker Street
Investigations on the Treasure
Coast, Florida (or anywhere else in the US, or abroad). But, a
wonderful benefit is that, now
and then, we get even to make a contribution to the advancement
The Kayak Trip
Generally, Florida Process Servers are allowed to go to the
front door of a Subject's home...or the side door, if it is not
gated. But, we are discouraged from opening gates to backyards.
Yet, there was this guy who was seen hanging out in a hammock in
his backyard...steadfastly "not hearing" our knocking and
calling out his name. He lay there under a shady oak tree, with
a great view of the canal that passed behind his home.
It was a rush service and we were a bit nervous since we had
knowledge that this particular man had reacted violently to
other process servers in the past.
The solution? Baker Street Florida Private Investigations
founder, Marcia Gillings, is a long-time kayaker. She went
home, got her kayak, launched it a few doors up the canal from
the Subject, and went paddling by the target home.
Stopping "midstream" to say hi, the burly Subject engaged in
pleasant enough conversation so, Summons tucked under her
wide-brimmed hat, Marcia pulled the kayak over to the
Avoiding Service" ambled down to the waterfront and, much to
his consternation, was served! Marcia paddled away quickly,
the lawn chair that was hurled into the water after her!
|| Dear Baker Street Investigations: My name is Kathy and I'm
a certified process server in the Midwest. This is a true
I had a rush subpoena for a local karate instructor. I'd been
told he was going to try avoiding service. Not a good
combination, a service-avoiding karate instructor!!
About four houses from where this guy lived, I got a very
flat tire -- on a rainy, gooey day! Groan! Fortunately, a car
passing by stopped to
help me...a trim, good-looking man about 30, who was very kind
as he helped me get the spare on.
The only trouble is that the spare was a bit low on air. But my
new friend told me that he had an air compressor at his house
and, fortunately, he only lived four doors away. Gulp.
Could it be...?!!!
Sure enough! My Good Samaritan was the "bad ol' Subject" I had
Turned out, though, that he had been subpoenaed by the other
side just that very morning, knew all about the case, and was
only too happy to accept service from me. In spite of a few
nervous moments, it had a happy ending.
Actually, this Subject even hired me about a month later to do
some private investigation work for him. Sometimes, the "Good
Who's following who?!
Hi, Baker Street Florida Investigations. (Glad to see that you
do nationwide -- even international work. Maybe we can do some
business together one of these days!) I'm Larry Gladstone, a
P.I. in the Atlanta area. This happened to me yesterday:|
I was following a pick-up truck in a domestic violence case.
The subject was a particularly scruffy fellow, with a history of
several arrests for bar fights and other mayhem.
We were in an area where there were several alleyways off the
main drag and he unexpectedly turned into one, off to the
right. Not to be obvious that I was following him, I passed
that alley and turned right into the next one. It ended at
a "T" and I "mentally flipped a coin" and turned right, back
toward the alley into which the Subject had turned.
Wrong decision! All of a sudden, there he was, right ahead of
me in his battered, jacked-up, big wheel, truck...turning
sideways and stopping in the middle of the street...blocking my
As the guy ambled back to my car, he even carried a gun
with him! He rapped insistently on the window, and demanded to
why the hell I was following him.
Fortunately for me, my wife is a real estate agent and there was
a lot of real estate stuff, pictures, maps, and fliers, in the
passenger seat of my car. I told the guy, plausibly enough,
that I was looking for a car repair place "in the neighborhood"
that was supposed to be for sale. After glowering at me for a
moment, sizing me up, the guy bought my story and told me that
there was a garage three streets down that he'd heard might be
going on the market because the owner was moving to Florida.
I got away, didn't blow my cover, and let my partner (who had
not been seen by the Subject) take over the rest of the
I shouldn't have done this ...
but it worked!
Dear Baker Street Florida Investigations: Hi! I'm Rob Jensen,
a Certified Process Server in the Miami area. When I was
younger and less-cautious, I did the following:|
I had been trying all afternoon to serve this one guy who eluded
me every time I went to his house. Once, he ran out the back
door and into the woods with his dog. Another, I could hear him
inside but he refused to answer the door or pick up the phone.
But, having been there before, I knew that he was having his
house painted, and that a crew was working there every day.
I put on some old clothes, grabbed a bucket and brush from my
garage, stuffed the Summons into the back of my jeans, and set
Arriving at the Subject's house -- good luck! -- his car was in
the driveway. As were two trucks from the house painting
Parking, I grabbed my paint can and brush, and I walked to the
rear of the house, and I climbed one of the ladders that was
leaned up against the house. The painters were Cuban and didn't
speak much English. I guess they thought the boss had sent me
over...to help, or maybe they thought I was an inspector or
It wasn't more than five minutes before the homeowner (the guy I
was trying to serve) came out, looked at me, decidedly
not a Cuban, and demanded to know who I was.
Climbing down slowly, I walked over to the man, pulled the
Summons out of my jeans, and told him that I was a process
server in the 11th Judicial Circuit, and that he was served!
Not sure if I could have been arrested to trespassing, or for
Painting Without a License or something, but the service
I am more responsible and mature today but, as I said, this
happened fairly early in my career when I still thought I knew
My name is Bob, a licensed private investigator with Baker
Street Florida Investigations. Here's a case that was both
odd ... and embarrassing case!|
We had a client who was certain that someone was invading her
privacy by peering into
her house with a blue laser beam that was somehow capable of
taking pictures of her as she moved from room to room. She
reported that this happened nightly, for two years
As up-to-date and technologically adept as we are here at Baker
Street Investigations, we have never heard of any equipment
capable of the feats that this client described. We discreetly
asked if she had ever seen ghosts, had any type of mental
problems, or even if she had any history of seizures (which
sometimes cause flashes of light) ... anything
that might account for her seeing -- or thinking that she was
seeing -- these blue "laser" lights.
But, she insisted that they are real.
So, we went to her home loaded down with virtually every type of
visual, auditory, and electronic detection equipment in our
arsenal. One of the devices we employed is a sort of electronic
spectrum scanner, which scrolls through the entire range of
electronic frequencies, sort of like a super-duper police
scanner. The thought was that, if there was in fact some sort
of blue laser-like "probe" penetrating her home (presumably
gaps in her window curtains), then it must have an electrical
Well, as I sat outside in our electronic surveillance van,
hidden in bushes next to a nearby cul-de-sac, the speaker
suddenly cracked to life. I clearly, all-too-clearly, heard
voices saying things like,
"the knife to her lungs was good,
but it was the
knife in the heart that did the the old gal in. Look at all the
blood! Okay, now we need to
move the body," and gruesome conversation like that.
we are for all eventualities, I was emotionally unprepared for a
routine "bug scan" and surveillance to suddenly turn into a
Just as I was about the call 911, the spectrum scanner's speaker
suddenly switched from the topic of a dead body to the theme
song for "Law and Order!"
What had happened was that, as the equipment scanned up through
the myriad of electronic frequencies, it locked into a cable
television emission and was picking up a tv program, not a real
murder inside the subject's home!
P.S.: We never did see the "blue light laser beam" that the
client said was entering her home nightly and taking her
picture. Anyone have any ideas that will help "crack" this case?
|The Bad Guy's
Excellent Security System
Here's one from the anals of a Baker Street Florida
Investigator's file.... Baker Street's chief investigator and
founder, Marcia Gillings, has been doing police work and private
detective work for a couple of decades now and has run into most
every situation that can be devised by humans, Nature, or by
accident. Increasingly, though, the really bad guys are
becoming more sophisticated in protecting themselves and their
assets from discovery. (For example, there are high-tech
security systems today that we wouldn't have dreamed about even
a decade ago...motion detectors, heat sensors, video monitoring,
and the like.)|
At any rate, Marcia had a paper to serve at a "mini-ranch," a
home set on a pond on a 5-10 acre plot of land. As she
approached the home, she was immediately attacked by large,
angry, male swans. (If you have never been accosted by swans or
geese, this is really no laughing matter. Not only will they
bite visciously and fearlessly, they have large, heavy, powerful
wings with which they will beat you!) Tasking off a sandal and
swatting at the angry birds to keep them at bay, Marcia finally
got her paper served.
Yes, people today frequently have high-tech secruity devices
lower tech, "old standbys," are very effective, too.
thing faced by Baker Street Investigations' Marcia Gillings and
her licensed private investigator staff here in Florida
is this Security System:
Also, you'll learn more about the exciting
world of Private Investigations and Process Service here:
MARCIA GILLINGS INTERVIEW
in Treasure Coast newspaper