Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Cheating Hearts Keep Private Eye Busy

This is a very common phenomena happening, read it and see whether it sounds familiar to you or not.

The blonde went out for lunch.

Ali Dixon, private investigator, watched.

Would the woman, a home loan officer, be caught sharing the daily special with her secret lover?

Would Dixon record on his Handycam a passionate kiss or hug something that the woman’s live-in boyfriend would find especially unappetizing?

“Nothing surprises me anymore,” Dixon said of his work, which every February gets hectic as suspected cheaters shower gifts and attention on their significant others and secret paramours.

“Retailers have their Christmas, and private eyes have their Valentine’s Day,” Dixon said from behind the tinted windows of his black surveillance vehicle a Ford Explorer which softly purred as he idled in a strip mall in San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

He watched his subject walk into a sandwich shop.

“If she doesn’t come out of there in five minutes,” Dixon said, “I’m going in for a closer look.”

Dixon and five other investigators at Laguna PI (for Private Investigator) worked multiple cases of suspected infidelity last month, staking out homes, offices, strip clubs wherever clients who pay about $500 a day send them to see if their significant others are cheating.

It can be long, tedious work requiring patience, a keen eye and the ability to deftly zoom in and out of traffic while juggling notebooks, cameras and food and drinks snatched on the go.

When Cupid is around, careless as it may seem, cheaters can’t seem to resist the urge to splurge on their secret lovers sometimes very publicly.

“Usually, a man will take his mistress out to lunch, and then after work celebrate Valentine’s Day with his wife,” Dixon said matter-of-factly, carefully pointing out that suspected cheaters come in all types and in both genders. In fact, about 70 percent of the “subjects” he follows are females.

Dixon is young 25, tall, with a narrow face and droopy Nicolas Cage eyes and low-key for a guy whose job exposes him daily to the nefarious nature of the human heart.

Clients often break down emotionally. He’s gotten death threats from cheaters who’ve hired their own PIs to find out who nailed them.

“A woman showed up at my house once and threatened to kill me,” Dixon said. “I told her she better leave. She did.”

As a licensed private investigator, Dixon has the proper permits to back up such statements.

He used to smoke to ease the stress of the job, but quit. These days, peppermint mochas from Starbucks do the trick.

Dixon currently is single. Things with his girlfriend of more than a year didn’t work out. No, he didn’t catch her cheating.

He’s become a bit cynical about relationships but still has hope for the human race.

He knows there are unfaithful people in the world always have been, always will be and sees his job as a professional provider of peace of mind as ugly as the circumstances may be.

Dixon recalled a client, a future mother-in-law of a woman who was to marry her son. The bride-to-be was a stripper. The mother-in-law paid $5,700 to make sure she was nothing more than that.

One of Dixon’s colleagues tracked her at work. In his investigative report, he wrote, “She was not observed conducting herself out of normal character of her profession as an exotic dancer.”

Dixon believes the two got married. He hopes the couple’s happy. After all, he pointed out, he’s not the one ruining relationships he’s just the information provider, the purveyor of hard, cold facts. When a job is done, he hands a report to his client and walks away.

“Ninety percent of the people who hire me are correct their suspicions of infidelity are found to be true,” Dixon said. “But it doesn’t always kill a relationship. Sometimes it leads to a renewal of vows.”

Sometimes, the suspicion is not about a partner sleeping with another person. One client wanted to know if her husband was visiting strip clubs.

He was.

“Now, that wasn’t cheating per se,” said Dixon, who left his investigating job at the Pasadena Police Department after five years because he said he didn’t like working for the government. “But it was still an activity that he probably shouldn’t have been involved in.

“I have some friends who tell me, `I want my husband to go to strip clubs so he doesn’t cheat on me. I’m in my 40s. He should be allowed to see these things.’

“But for some partners, going to a strip club is grounds for divorce.”

Dixon is careful not to judge his clients or subjects. He prefers to sticks to the facts.

The newspaper rode with him for four hours in south Orange County, Calif., as he worked two cases:

— The home loan officer whose live-in boyfriend works outside the county and makes good money. The boyfriend hired Dixon to dispel suspicions she was after his money and was not seeing other men in short, to see if she was a “keeper.”

— A successful, married man whose wife caught him cheating several months ago but decided to give him another chance. They have a small child. She thinks he may have resumed seeing the woman. She hired Dixon to find out.

Like police work, the job of a PI can be dull. Spasms of activity keep things interesting.

Dixon drove through a parking structure to see if the married man was at work. A fancy sports car would indicate he may be going on a lunch date. If he drove the boring family car to work, chances are it was take-out food at his desk.

His wife caught him with a younger woman. “It’s always a younger woman,” Dixon said wearily.

There were no signs of either car. Dixon drove through the structure twice to make sure.

“Sometimes his job takes him out of the county, so maybe that’s where he went,” Dixon said. “At the least, if he tells his wife he was at the office all day, I have proof he’s lying.”

Dixon looked at a photo of the subject: clean-cut and athletic.

He is known to like exotic dancers, so Dixon drove to a well-known strip joint in Lake Forest. He knows many of the employees there who will drop a dime for the right price.

Neither of the man’s cars was parked outside, and the place wasn’t quite open, so Dixon moved on to the other case.

The boyfriend of the real estate loan officer paid Dixon $2,000 to track her movements this week. Dixon focused on lunchtime and when she left the office.

He idled his car in an alley in San Juan Capistrano, behind her office. His car was nearly blocked, to the right, by a maintenance crew working on a sewer and, to the left, by a garbage truck.

Sewer. Garbage. Possible cheater.

To Dixon, the scene had a poetic beauty to it.

The blonde got in her car and pulled out of the alley.

Dixon put his dark sunglasses on and followed her, from a distance.

She drove less than half a mile to a strip mall where she parked in front of a sandwich shop and walked inside alone.

“Maybe she’s meeting someone inside,” Dixon said. “Maybe she’s just getting something for herself and going back to work.”

Personally working an average of 10 to 20 cases per month, Dixon has caught all sorts of damning evidence from the zoom lenses of his Handycam and camera.

He declined to get too specific, or to talk about common mistakes cheaters make. He didn’t want to give away any trade secrets.

Just as Dixon was about to get out of his car and walk into the sandwich shop, the blonde walked out alone, carrying her lunch.

“I guess today wasn’t the day,” he said. “Maybe tomorrow.”

Or maybe never — maybe she’s a faithful girlfriend.


One thing Dixon knows for sure: He’ll be out there the next day.


Source : The Orange County Register


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