In Truckee, being a private eye isn’t about red Ferraris, snub-nose .38s or dames in distress. Nope. It’s more like naked guys on bikes.
Sitting in Madigan’s Grille and Tavern, Truckee private investigator Curtis Deen alternates between sipping his black coffee and talking about his job as a Truckee gumshoe.
It’s after the breakfast rush at Madigan’s, and with only a few customers the restaurant is fairly quiet – except for Deen, who doesn’t speak in the hushed tones one would expect from a man who’s supposed to be low-profile and always on the job.
Then again, this is Truckee, not Hollywood.
“People have the ‘Magnum, PI’ syndrome,” says Deen, who is wearing a tweed sport coat over a Magnumesque Hawaiian shirt. “People who are private investigators don’t go out and enforce the law and kick down doors. If something [criminal] goes down, I’m going to call the police. My favorite number is 911. I did [law enforcement] for years. I’m done with that.”
Deen has 20 years experience as a police officer with the Manteca Police Department. Now, as a private investigator, Deen says he would only get involved with a crime if there’s a danger of loss of life.
“I turn down any type of assignment that I think would put my life in jeopardy,” he says. “I don’t carry a gun. It’s not that I’m against it; I just carried one for so many years.”
Deen also prefers not to do domestic investigating, like spying on cheating spouses. Truckee, he says, is too small for that line of work.
He does jobs that range from the innocuous, like pre-employment screening or serving papers, to the seemingly exciting, like surveillance and finding missing persons.
No matter what the assignment, Deen says it’s all in a day’s work. That’s where the naked cyclist comes in.
When a Truckee resident asked Deen to find the “Boca flasher” last summer, Deen monitored the area around the reservoir. But once on the scene, he encountered more nudity than he bargained for.
A naked man, who didn’t fit the description of the flasher, rolled by on a bicycle wearing nothing but tennis shoes. Deen didn’t say what identifying features convinced him that the nude cyclist and the flasher were not one and the same.
Other than the strange moments, Deen calls surveillance “boring.”
“You sit there and you listen to the radio,” Deen says, adding that he has hidden in freezers, trees and irrigation ditches all over the country doing surveillance as a PI and police officer. “Usually surveillance is unfruitful, but not always.”
After he left the Manteca Police Department, Deen worked for the U.S. Navy. Two years before his retirement, he transferred to Reno and commuted from Truckee, where he lives with his wife and daughter.
Wanting to keep busy after retirement, Deen looked at state private investigator licensing records and saw there were five in the Truckee area and none were active. He took his state PI license test and passed in May 2003.
Deen said he figured it would take a while for business to pick up in a town where he hadn’t been too involved with the community. But in June and July he got “slammed” with work. After that, he got to know Truckee pretty well.
“You can learn a lot about a community by what comes and goes when no one is looking,” he says.
So what has Deen learned about Truckee?
“Not much goes on after 10 at night.”
Contact Curtis Deen’s Sierra Mountain Investigations at 587-5405 or email@example.com.
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