What is private on your property?

The Supreme Court (US) has several times issued “guidance” on what can and cannot be considered private property in searches under the Fourth Amendment.

The current status is – and always subject to further review by the court in future cases – the inside of your home and it’s “curtilage” require a search warrant (in most cases) for police to perform a search. But what is curtilage? Well it is such a little used word that most dictionaries will claim it to be misspelled.  It is that part of your home that is a part of it, not the house itself. It may be your fenced yard, unless maybe it is so large as to be considered an open field. It might be your driveway, if it is not a likely pathway where friends, neighbors, solicitors, the mailman or politicians might approach your door to knock. It might be an area behind a section of fence or screening that blocks it from the street. But, it is not your front porch, unless you have a security fence that would prevent unwanted neighbors or politicians or whatever from reaching it.

“The Court explains some of this by saying that it would not be fair to give extra Fourth Amendment protection to people who can afford a fully enclosed garage for their vehicles and less protection to those who must park in an open driveway. This sounds laudable, except for the fact that Fourth Amendment protection almost always tracks wealth. People who live in apartments likely have no “curtilage” at all in which to enjoy privacy. And people who live in single-room residences have exactly one room in which to enjoy the privacy associated with “houses” in the Fourth Amendment. In contrast, the owner of a mansion might have many thousands of square feet that the Fourth Amendment protects.”

Here is a link to the article quoted above:  https://verdict.justia.com/2018/07/18/collins-v-virginia-an-innocuous-fourth-amendment-decision-about-curtilage

Investigation out takes

Sometimes interesting things happen in investigations. Here are a few recent examples:

A client had been victimized – the culprit had been identified and a warrant was issued but until the culprit was arrested no court resolution or restitution would be possible. I found several possible addresses and cars that the culprit was associated with, found their social media posts with Denver Broncos fan posts. I took advantage of that – made a visit to the several addresses until I found the culprit’s car parked at one, called the local police and waited until officer’s arrived and arrested the culprit – in Bronco orange jersey in the middle of the game.

Looking for a suspected sexual predator who was believed to be living with or near relatives I tracked the parents and a brother to two houses about two blocks apart. I found that cars parked at those addresses were registered to the parents but under aliases and variations of their names – using the common Hispanic name traditions of sometimes using father’s surname, mother’s surname, husband’s surname, the wife using de husband’s surname,. One car had “changed hands” from the wife using her husband’s last name to the wife using her mothers surname. I also found evidence of the culprit using a car registered to someone who he is friends with on social media. I found a company he and family members own with a fake address in the middle of a city golf course. I was able to finally locate the culprit using social media information about  when they would be at a particular location.

In a contested divorce case I determined that the husband had a new live in girl friend. While I was investigating him and his assets, he appears to have had the girlfriend buy a birthday present for his 6 year old daughter who lives in another state with the wife. She ordered online three Hello Kitty wines! Cannot imagine what she was thinking, was it spite against the wife or against her boyfriend? Had no idea there were Hello Kitty wines!

A husband needed to find his estranged wife to serve her with divorce papers, he had two possible areas of the city where she might be. As a precaution I checked for restraining orders and found that not only did his wife have one against him, he had one against her so I couldn’t let either of them know the others whereabouts. He did have a lawyer so I told him I could work through the lawyer only. I tracked down a likely address for her and went there knocked on the door and a young woman answered. I had a picture of the wife and this was not her. I asked if the wife was there she said she doesn’t live there anymore. I asked is she had any forwarding address. A teen aged kid behind her pops up and says she is in rehab in California. The woman agreed with that, but did admit she had a phone number that might or might not be still working. I thanked her and went back to the car and called the number, asked for the wife, and it was she who answered. I explained to her that her husband hired me to find her so she could be served and get the divorce going after these two years. She agreed that would be good, to get it done but was very leery about telling me where she lived or worked but she told me what part of town and said the next evening after she got off work would be good. I said no problem maybe someplace like Starbucks? She eventually agreed to meet at a police station which was okay by me. The next day she let me know which police station it was twenty miles from where she had claimed to be. The next day I talked to the husband, he admitted he had been living in his truck in a mountain campground. I never did know where either was really living but he paid cash and the papers were served.


Workers Comp case, a guy out of work seemed to be working, needed to be caught. Knowing he had no license after a DUI it seemed likely he was taking a bus or light rail. On Sunday, not expecting him to be working, I parked near his apartment on the likely route in order to scope out the possibilities, with video cameras aimed at the bus/train station and his apartment I was watching the buses, trains and people. Out of no where he shows up behind my vehicle walking across to a convenience store.  Reviewing the videos later I did not see him walking from the apartment or from the bus / train. There is a chain link fence that whole block with no gates or gaps where had he come from? By syncing the videos I saw a white cargo van come from the direction of the apartment but did not appear in the other view for almost a minute. He had been in the van and they dropped him off right across the street from me. Well I now knew what to look for as his transport to and from work.

Cheating Spouse

Do you suspect your spouse is having an affair? Statistics show that most people who suspect it or just have a gut feeling are right. Maybe you need to know for sure so you can force them to get couples counseling to try to save the marriage or so you can just get past it or to make a decision on whether to move forward to a divorce.

Although divorce in Colorado is No Fault and evidence of cheating is not required, that evidence can sometimes be leveraged to affect the value of a property settlement or just to convince the spouse to not fight. That evidence can be important to your future economic situation.

It can also affect child custody in some cases.


Protecting your data

From TechRepublic article linked below
Image From TechRepublic article linked below

I realize that since my work involves sometimes trying to find information that people try to hide this could be counter productive,  frankly, there are good reasons to protect your data from other people. Things like financial records, private pictures, ideas for a business you plan to start, company trade secrets, lots of things that just should not be out in plain sight.

Storing things on your computer or phone or other device can leave it available to hackers or even just someone who randomly gets physical access to the device. Anti virus software, pass codes on the device, other things mean little if the info is stored as a simple file, like a word document or photo or video.

And sending a file by email or on a thumb drive or DVD is also risky. Unless the file is encrypted.

Enter some free software that can encrypt your file,  called GPG – it comes as part of Linux operating systems and is available for Windows as GPG4win.  It relates back to what was originally called PGP which was Pretty Good Privacy. It uses a two key system – a public key and a private key.  There are phone aps that use PGP – these are not free but worth looking at.

You can use it to make an encrypted copy of a file that without your key (a long series of random characters – letters, numbers and symbols) the file is useless.

If you need someone to send you something – emailed or otherwise – they will need the free program on their end and your public key. The public key encrypts only – it will not change the encrypted file back, so it doesn’t matter who happens to get the file or the key, only your private key can unlock it.

Now that’s not to say that the NSA or someone with unlimited time on massive computers could not get the key, but as long as you are not a criminal or terrorist it is very doubtful anyone would be able to get your data.

As to storing the keys for your encrypted files, try one of these password managers in this article .


After the horse is gone…

With the recent rash of vehicle break ins, where the garage door opener and registrations were taken – first thing you need to do is make that old opener not work. First – unplug the opener. That is quick and dirty but will stop them until you take a more permanent step. you need to make that old opener useless permanently.

Some older models there is a set of switches on the opener that set the code. The remotes have the same inside. Just flip a few of the switches on the opener to the other position and then make the switches in any remaining or new remotes match – job done.

most newer openers learn the remote and will have a button to make it forget the remotes (all of them). Then you need to have it re learn the existing remotes or the button built into newer vehicles. Then the missing remote will be useless ( unless it is recovered and then you can have the opener re learn it).

There may be a different process for the openers that are IOT (Internet of Things) connected through wifi.

DO NOT, as someone posted in a comment elsewhere, booby trap your car to injure the thieves – in today’s lawsuit happy world – not a good idea! Besides it would probably damage your car and the insurance might well decline to pay.

Scams abound

There are lots of scams going around. Some are obvious (to most people) like the ones that misspell obvious words. Or mention that it is a Nigerian Prince that died and left a boatload of money you can get.

One that tried to get passed me recently was one claiming to be PayPal.com telling me there was a problem with my account and it had an email that had something like PayPal.audit.com and it had a link to click that also had PayPal in the address. I’ve seen and heard similar scams from “Visa” or “Mastercard” or “Discover” – really any place that handles money. All of these scams rely on people just carelessly clicking the link or returning the email.  If you should click the link you will probably see a web page that resembles or even exactly matches a real web site for the company – it will ask you to log in. Guess what will happen to your log in info? For sale instantly on the Dark Web. Bad guys will have access to everything on that account. They can go in and drain the account, run up the debt, change the password, change the email or phone number. Nothing good will happen!

The best way to handle anything like this is probably to just delete it. Certainly do not respond in any way. Then you could go to the real site – by typing the PayPal.com or Visa.com or whatever and logging in to the real site and while you are there maybe look at the charges or whatever, see if there is a notice to users about the scam you encountered, perhaps send a message to the site support people that there is a scam – they might ask you to send a copy of the message – if you haven’t deleted it.

You might even without having a scam arrive go to all your accounts and change the password – and make them difficult to guess like H2#wQ7^J^&%hakeut#(!

Get and use on of the available wallet apps that will store all your passwords and log ins for you so those impossible to remember passwords and keep them secure and encrypted. Check out Norton security or McAfee or some other apps that protect from viruses and malware and intrusions and include a wallet function.

The Norton Security also can include LifeLock protection, the password wallet,

Norton Security

Apple’s Wallet (used to be Passport) also lets you use your iPhone to replace your credit cards at the point of sale.

Apple wallet


Concealed carry mom shuts down creepy stalker

Recently I got a call from a potential client wanting to see if I could track the creepy guy who followed her and particularly her young child through a Big 5 sporting goods store. She did notice his behavior changed after she was looking at the defensive ammo for her CCW weapon. The guy kind of lost interest at that point, but she did see that he had parked just two cars from hers and left the store shortly after she did. She got his plate number and wanted to know if I could track the guy. I suggested she give this to the police instead. She called back a little later, since she had left her name and number with the store security, when the guy showed up again, they called the police.

But the point is, he lost interest when he found out the mom was not afraid of guns and quite familiar with them, he might even have heard her tell the clerk the ammo was for her concealed carry gun.  Just one example of how a CCW can be effective even when not taken from concealment.

Door-To-Door Salesman Arrested for Indecent Exposure, Unlawful Sexual Contact and Burglary

from – PIO Douglas County Sheriff’s Office

On April 19, 2017, at approximately 2:00 p.m. a door-to-door salesman aggressively insisted that a 19-year-old resident let him into her home, in the 9000-blk Bear Mountain Dr., Highlands Ranch, to use the bathroom. After the 19-year-old reluctantly complied, the salesman, Antron Fogler (DOB: 7/2/65), inappropriately touched her and masturbated in front of her.

Another victim reported that Fogler questioned her about her husband’s location before entering her home and also touching her.

Shortly after the reporting, deputies located Fogler in the area and took him into custody. Fogler is currently housed in the Douglas County Jail, facing charges of Indecent Exposure, Unlawful Sexual Conduct, and 2nd Degree Burglary.

Anyone who sells something door-to-door in unincorporated Douglas County is required by Ordinance to register with the Sheriff’s Office, with the exception of nonprofits and charities. Approved solicitors are vetted and provided a solicitor’s registration card which lists business and contact information. The solicitor registration card must be carried by the solicitor at all times and shown on demand.

Sheriff Tony Spurlock would like to remind citizens to take precautions when dealing with door-to-door sales people, people providing estimates, or the like. Please do not allow them into your home and always confirm that the sales person obtained a Douglas County Solicitor’s Registration Card, confirming their validity and allowing them to conduct their business in Douglas County.

If there are any additional victims that have not yet contacted us, please contact Detective Kahan at ten.f1537429956fireh1537429956scd@n1537429956ahakl1537429956 or 303-814-7085.

This is an open and active investigation, no additional information, including the booking photo, will be released at this time.

Shared with all areas in Douglas County Sheriff’s Office in Crime & Safety

Spousal Infidelity? What can you do?

Ok, you’ve hired an investigator and have the proof, can you salvage the marriage? Maybe. Here is a link to a site with some insight into that.

The answer is not always to hire a lawyer. Is the cheating terminal, it depends of you, your spouse and all the details of your lives together. Perhaps your church has different rules for divorce than the state does? Are there kids, will the kids be better off if you stay together or if you split? Are you able to move forward in the marriage knowing the truth? Will you and your spouse be able to live with the consequences of the infidelity and move forward in the marriage if the truth is squarely on the table? Has all the truth come out?

Many times finding the truth is a small part. But, can you deal with the situation at all without knowing the truth?

Social media dangers

What you post on Facebook or elsewhere can come back to bite you. Not just in the face palm I cant believe I posted that type but the How did that guy find out where I live or my phone number or where and when I can be attacked, or kidnapped, or worse? (Now, I really don’t want the people I am looking for to take this advice, it makes my work easier when they do these things.)

Do you have a classic valuable car you posted a picture of with the license plate number showing?

Did you post a picture of the front of your house with the address numbers showing?

When you go eat do you click the cute little thing that checks you in to that place?

Does your profile show what city and state you are from?

Do you post about where you work? Even just the company name? Do you post pictures with a company vehicle in the background or with you wearing a company shirt, jacket or uniform?

While you are on vacation do you post pictures of the great place you and your family are staying?

That is more than enough info for a thief or worse to target you and your stuff.

With the license plate number in most states the owners name and address, the vin number, maybe the color, engine size, even some options are out there.

With the house number and the city you can Google and find all the complete addresses with that number in that city (there are surprisingly few in many cases) and then go to Google street view or Zillow and match the pictures of your house to those on the web. They will know your complete address, perhaps even pictures of the inside of the house.

Oh and look you are on vacation in Cancun posting pictures of you para sailing today and youre going snorkeling tomorrow (guess your home is probably empty today and tomorrow)garyfloats . Or every Thursday you go out to eat at Goodtime Charlies with all your buds.

You work at Gooddeal mortgage loans well there is only one of those near your home, a quick call to them during the day can verify you are there even if the receptionist says Oh Im sorry but employees cant take private calls, I know you are probably there and can probably guess what time to wait outside to catch you leaving work.

So just from what many people post on Social media someone with bad intentions can find you, rob your home, steal your car, kidnap you or your family members, stalk you, harass you, target you in many ways. All because you do what so many others do every day.

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