Our Durham client called to book a polygraph examination (lie detector test) for four friends and a family member who have all worked together in the Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead area for many years as Groundworkers. The Durham client had started his company with the same four men working for him for the past 10 years and the men were a tight knit group, working in Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead for some of the largest construction companies in the area.
The working relationship had evolved over the years to a strong friendship, with the men socialising together in Newcastle upon Tyne and some of them even moved home from the Gateshead area to Durham, so that the team could be together more often.
The winter period is often as slow time for business and the company, all four men and the client, would regularly leave Durham for warmer climates and holiday together in Asia. The client said that the success of the Durham business was in no small measure down to the reliability, integrity and professionalism of his staff and he considered each one of them as a treasured personal friend.
Our client had recently started a relationship with a new partner and had decided not to travel abroad with his friends this year but instead he left Durham for a more local flight to Ireland, where his new partner lived. Being security conscious he asked one of his friends to visit his home every morning and evening to open and close the curtains, to give the impression that the property was still occupied. On the Saturday morning, four days into his holiday and the day before his planned return to Durham, the client received a telephone call from his friend to say that the house had been burgled. Knowing that he had some cash savings hidden in his Durham home together with two Rolex watches, he asked the friend to check in his hiding places to make sure the money and watches were still there. The friend stayed on the line while he followed the client’s instructions to locate his hiding places and it was then that the friend confirmed that both the money and watches had been stolen.
The client caught the next flight home to Durham. On arrival back at his Durham home the client examined every door and window that gave access to his property and confirmed that there was no sign of a forced entry. Clearly whoever had entered his Durham home had done so with a key. The offender had appeared to have also gone straight to the client’s hiding places for both the money and the watches and as far as they could see there had been no attempt to search anywhere else or indeed take any other property, some of which were quite expensive items, left at the Durham property in different rooms. His friend who had been looking after the house was with him when he checked for signs of a forced entry and was actually physically sick, stressing over being the obvious suspect, he vomited and pleaded with his friend to believe him, that he had not stolen his property.
The client spent the next few days mulling over his situation. Clearly the Durham home had not been burgled in the traditional sense of the word, by force, but his friend and co-worker who would normally have been beyond suspicion was the obvious suspect as he had the only spare key. In addition the four friends had over the years often been present when he had taken money from his savings at home to go out on an evening socialising with them and they had also seen his hiding place for his Rolex watches. The one thing that he could not rule out was that one of the group had copied his keys.
There had been plenty of opportunities during their workdays for one of them to
access his keys from the company vehicle they all shared when they were on sites or after an evening’s socialising when they would consume vast amounts of alcohol and sometimes cocaine and cannabis as well. The client summoned all four friends to the company offices in Newcastle upon Tyne and they talked through the options. One thing that they all agreed on was that it could not possibly be one of them that would steal from their employer and friend. However they also agreed that there seemed to be
no other possibilities that an outsider had carried out the burglary.
The strength of the bond between these friends was testament to their decision to all agree to take a lie detector test in an effort to confirm their innocence. One of the group was aware that their brother in law had recently engaged our company to conduct a lie detector test on an unrelated matter at our office at our Doxford International Business Park (4 Admiral Way, Sunderland, SR33XW). The clients Newcastle upon Tyne business had recently completed a contract on that site so he was keen not to use that location because he did not want anyone to connect him and his business to the test being held at that location. We were able to offer the client an alternative location at The Axis
Building Maingate, Kingsway, North Gateshead,NE11 0NQ, but again work had been carried out at that Gateshead location as well.
It was eventually agreed that the lie detector tests would be carried out at his home, where he had suitable rooms where the examinations could be carried out without
interruption and in total confidentiality. Each of the friends in turn attended the Durham home and it was noticeable how each one spoke of their loyalty to their boss and confirmed that they could not believe that one of them had committed the crime.
One after another the men sat the lie detector test, each one confirming their denials of being involved in the burglary and theft. One after another they passed the lie detector test. The Durham client was apprised of the results as we walked around round the exterior of his home, examining the windows and doors for signs of intrusion. Whilst he was relieved that his friends were now ruled out of suspicion, he was at a loss to understand how the offender had gained entry to his home.
The client resolved to conduct further tests on members of his family, who in the past have had access to his keys. This decision was reversed after he contacted us the following day to say that the watches had been returned together with the majority of the money. A nephew had been identified as a suspect and when his parents searched his bedroom they found the remaining property hidden in his wardrobe. Our Durham client had the good grace to admit that he had suspected that the lie detector tests had missed the opportunity of identifying the offender but instead he now knew that
the tests had simply found the truth. He could trust his friends, if not all of his family.