So, you were complaining about your office?

28 Jun

I’ve been on a fixed surveillance in an abandoned crack apartment for the last few days. The subject lives just across the courtyard. Management was aware of the investigation and offered to let us use a vacant apartment that they kicked a tweaker out of just recently.  When I called the manager to ask for the key and they said “The aparment hasn’t been cleaned yet” I blew it off. “I’ve done surveillance from unfinished buildings before. It can’t be worse than places I’ve been in the past.”

Yes it can.

Seriously, I don’t think I could trash a place this thoroughly if I had a cheat sheet. The kitchen was littered with empty Jack Daniels bottles and broken plates. Even the light fixture was lying shattered on the floor. There was a lone potato bonsai in the middle of the counter. Piles of clothing and broken furniture were everywhere . In the rear left bedroom it looked as though someone had upended an aquarium in the center of the room. All but one of the doors were off their hinges.

“Laundry day… nothing clean.”

There was a pile of gravel in the living room. I don’t mean decorative rock. I mean a pile of gravel. Gravel is heavy. I am in awe of the level of dedication required to get a pile of gravel into a second floor apartment.

Couple of rules when you’re doing surveillance from a crackhouse;


2. Bring lots of plastic bags to facilitate Rule #1

That’s mostly it. All of the normal surveillance rules apply. Keep quiet. Pack a lunch. Bring something to pee into. Yes, the plumbing worked but I didn’t go into the bathroom for two reasons. A) It’s too far from the window and B) Eeeewww.

I did NOT take a certain someone’s suggestion and use the sink as a toilet, even though I think it might have actually improved the smell.

Oh, and thick-soled boots in case I step on a needle. The night before I went my wife asked “When was your last tetanus shot?” (Tetanus being the LEAST of my worries) Good point honey. Boots it is.

The electricity was off, so in addition to not being able to recharge any of my equipment there was no air conditioning and no way to run a fan for 8 hours. Friday it was 108°. I’ll leave the smell to your imagination. Here’s hoping you don’t have a very good imagination.

The back windows were busted out, so there was some ventilation. The down side was that the broken windows would allow anyone who was interested to simply climb inside.

The first day I opened the door and put a plastic bag on the floor. I set my equipment bag down and picked up a bucket full of ice I’d brought. I carried the bucket inside, set it down, closed and locked the front door behind me… and heard the bedroom door slam. Yeah.

Even though I know for a fact that my mother doesn’t read my blog (She doesn’t own a computer), I want to make it perfectly clear that I do NOT carry a Government Model 1911 Army Colt .45. If I did wander around with an absurdly powerful hand-cannon like that I would have held it out in front of me trying desperately to remember everything I’d ever heard my cop friends tell me about moving through an enclosed space while I went through and cleared each room. The adrenaline my panicked monkey hind-brain had dumped into my system had me close to hyperventilating by the time I reached the closed bedroom door.

Ok. Ok. Ok. Here we go…. Boot against the door just below the door knob… herewego… ok. Ok. Ok. Herewego….. ok…. SHOVE!

The door frame bowed away from the latch and the door swung open, bounced off the wall, and almost hit me in the face as it swung back. I crouched and shouldered my way past the door and into the room, nearly falling as I slipped on a DVD case (Hotel Rowanda. Funny what you notice). I tried to look everywhere at once. Closet, CLOSET! Clear. Dresser pulled a foot or so away from the wall, LOOK BEHIND IT NOW!

Nothing. Empty room. Opening the front door had allowed a cross-breeze that blew the door shut. I was alone in the apartment.

I pulled a dresser along the wall and propped the door open, then went into the front room and sat down and had a good long episode of the shakes.

My forward observation post

After a long, hot, and uneventful day of surveillance I packed out all my stuff without being seen and went home to lay down on my nice cool tile floor. It was a couple of days before I got back. I went through and checked the whole apartment. Nobody there. I was about to turn back to the front room when the detail-oriented part of my consciousness raised its hand and asked “Excuse me, but was that McDonald’s bag under the window last time.” No, no it wasn’t. “And the Big Gulp cup?” Nope. “And the condom wrapper?”

Like I said, eeeeeeeewwwww.


Next time; Back to the travel posts, I promise.



Take good care.




© 2012 Roy Guill, The Naked Investigator


9 Responses to “So, you were complaining about your office?”

  1. What I Desired To Say June 28, 2012 at 1:08 pm #

    Now that’s dedication.

  2. Kirsten June 28, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

    I disagree. I want more crack posts! This rocks. Ha ha…rocks…unintentional crack joke!

  3. Andi Newton June 28, 2012 at 2:30 pm #

    I’m with Kirsten. This was a great post! (Not that the travel posts aren’t good, too, but it’s hard to beat crackhouse surveillance for excitement.)

  4. jimvanbergen June 28, 2012 at 2:59 pm #

    I happen to dig your posts, Roy. Travel, work, as long as they are still entertaining and insightful (no complaints yet!)

    FYI, personally, I don’t consider my 1911 A-1 with pachymyer grips, custom sights and a smoothed down ramp to be a hand-cannon. I consider it valid, justified, junkie-stopping power. YMMV. 🙂

    • the naked investigator June 28, 2012 at 6:50 pm #

      I just spoke to the manager about an hour ago when I returned the key. Got to hear the story about the time they ran a homeless dude out of an empty place and then went in to make sure he hadn’t left anything. Found a 10-inch knife. Now they call the cops when they find a squatter.

  5. Sam June 28, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

    It is times like these when I miss working with you guys! I do love reading all your posts, this one just made me miss my Elite family!

  6. Laura June 28, 2012 at 8:20 pm #

    Holy. Moley.

    That’s a long way from touring theatre for young audiences, huh? 🙂

  7. C B August 13, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

    Well, and here I thought when I assigned you and you didn’t have to sit in your hot car how thankful you would be. Hmmpff

    • the naked investigator August 13, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

      It was quite an experience, I’ll say that… but hotter than most days in the van.

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