Reflecting on Detecting
tracking down Angel Eyes, a local private investigator
Things were going well, Kathleen Degre thought. The man she was following, two cars ahead of her, seemed oblivious enough. Nothing unusual to see, anyway – just a mess of people driving to work.
As the line of traffic stopped for a red light, the man’s car door, as if on cue, suddenly swung open. He stepped out, angrily talking on his cell phone and scanning the surrounding cars, squinting and pointing. It didn’t take long before his eyes locked on Degre.
What the hell?, she thought. What is he doing? He walked to her door and knocked. As she rolled down the window, she was barely able to let out a, “Can I help you?” before he shoved the phone towards her face.
“Why don’t you talk to her?” he yelled, half directed to Degre, half directed to the person on the other line.
Degre was stunned. “You’re crazy,” she shot back, playing dumb. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She rolled up her window, locked the door, and looked ahead, waiting for the light to turn. Alright, she said to herself, cover’s blown. This assignment’s over. The light turned green, and away she drove.
Now Degre looks back at that story and tells it with a petty laugh.
“I wasn’t exactly sure what to do at that point; that’s the first time I had been caught,” she told me. “I had been following him for his wife, and they must have been fighting on the phone while he was driving. She let something slip that he was being watched, probably at that moment, and he figured out it was me.”
Degre is one of a handful people in the Chippewa Valley who make a living as private investigators, in her case for her Eau Claire business called Angel Eyes. Most of her cases over the past decade aren’t nearly as exciting as the “red light guy fiasco.”
“Seventy-five percent of what I do, really, is serving legal documents,” she says. “The rest is predominately child custody surveillance.”