Crowdsourcing is real. Every time we post a question or a scenario and solicit feedback to the broader investigative crowd, I’m impressed. The comments we’ve gotten in response to the weekly briefing this week have been fantastic.
Here’s a sample from Facebook:
Here’s what folks had to say on YouTube:
And here are some of your replies on Twitter:
Now, here are my answers to the three scenarios. These are not necessarily THE correct answers, but they are my answers.
Flowers in the trash:
If they’ve been surrendered, the trash bin is on a public alleyway, and it’s legal in your area to take the trash, take it. Gather the flowers and the note and document the entire process. This can be fantastic evidence.
Flowers on the porch:
This one is a little trickier. I will not trespass. If the flowers are clearly visible, I’ll take a picture. My issue with walking onto the porch is one of contacting a represented party. I do not want to even appear to communicate with a person who is represented by an attorney.
Say I walk up on the porch and pretend to be looking for someone, not the subject. The subject opens the door and we have a brief chat — albeit, one based on a pretext. I’ve just had a conversation with a represented party. Not good.
In short: I think the flowers on the porch are tempting — but for me, off limits.
Flowers in the car:
It didn’t occur to me that I might be able to photograph the flowers in this situation. I had envisioned the car parked in a driveway. But a comment from Tanner Rutledge shifted my thinking a bit: “If the card was in plan view, I’d be zooming in with my camera to try and see what’s on it or where it’s from,” he wrote.
Good point. If the car was on a public right of way or in a shopping center parking lot, I think it might be fair game to photograph the flowers inside. If the note is visible through the car window, all the better. You might be able to get your proof and not violate any laws. As for opening the car door: NO.
I worked a case several years back where an investigator opened his subject’s car and rifled through the contents of the car. That investigator was investigated and, eventually, fined. Not only was opening the car door a breach of ethics; it turned out someone felt it was a breach of law.
I’ve been seriously impressed with the comments thread on this week’s Weekly Briefing video. I especially liked the one from Susan Lehmann, who pointed out, “And finally, it should never take a month to find out who the husband is seeing!”
Of course, as Tim Santoni pointed out in his comment, these decisions depend on many factors, including how you’re planning to use the evidence you gather. So there’s no single right answer for all three of these situations.
Cheers, all, and thank you for the insight! More questions coming up on Monday.