Private Eyes (Watching San Diego)


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Let's get a few things straight.

Straight as a shot of whiskey.

Straight as a right to the jaw.

Straight as the hemline on a short skirt.

Some people think that's what private investigators do —drink, fight and ... well, you know. After all, it works like that in Hollywood. From Mannix to Magnum, private investigators, or P.I.s, do more living in 60 minutes (minus commercials) than the rest of us mopes will manage in our lifetimes.

Some guys have all the luck. Too bad they live on a sound stage.

“People have this stereotyped perception of what private investigators do,” says Anthony Perrin, a P.I. based in Rancho Bernardo. “All the stuff they see on TV ... we're getting shot at, or in barroom fights. In reality, a professional private investigator is one of those guys who generally has a specialty of one sort or another.

“They're looking for repeat business, not the beautiful girl walking in, saying, ‘You gotta find the guy who killed my boyfriend,' or some big intrigue.”

But sometimes, P.I.s do get the girls, creating local legends in the process. Perrin says all reputable investigators are obligated to keep quiet about their cases, for obvious ethical reasons. Translation: If they tell us, they'll have to kill us.

Yet some stories eventually do get out. And while San Diego's P.I.s may not be 60-minute wonders, some of them do get their 15 minutes of fame. Or infamy.

In the following account, the names are being withheld —to protect the licentious. Several years ago, a husband contacted a local P.I., because he was suspicious of his wife. “A lot of guys avoid the follow-my-wife assignments, but this guy doesn't mind,” says a San Diego attorney who's heard the story. “So he goes out and follows the wife. He catches her in a bar. She has a few drinks with him, and she flirts with him. He takes her up to a hotel.

“He goes back to the husband and says, ‘Yeah, your wife's unfaithful.'”

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