Barrowford’s Rebecca Jane - the woman behind The Real Lady Detective Agency.
- Credit: Archant
TV stardom awaits Barrowford’s Rebecca Jane, who went on the trail of a wayward husband and found a new career. Mairead Mahon reports
It’s easy for even the clearest conscience to feel a tiny bit guilty when chatting with Lancashire’s Rebecca Jane. That’s because she owns The Real Lady Detective Agency. It’s been so successful that, later this year, a major new six part drama based on her work will be appearing on our television screens.
In fact, you’ll see quite a bit of her on the screen this year because, as well as the drama series, there’s going to be two documentaries about her - one shown in the UK and one in America. That’s a lot more than Hetty Wainthrop ever achieved!
The much more charming Rebecca has an international reputation for cracking cases involving infidelity, fraud, and even the occasional mystery involving furry friends. But how did it all begin?
Eight years ago, while pregnant, she heard rumours around her home town of Barrowford that her husband was being unfaithful. ‘He wouldn’t admit it so I contacted some private detectives but they didn’t seem very sympathetic and I left feeling embarrassed,’ she says.
‘I tried to find a lady, as I thought it would be easier for me. Despite lots of lady private detectives in fiction, there didn’t seem to be any in real life. So, I followed the mantra: if you want something doing, do it yourself.’
That’s just what she did and, accompanied by a few friends and supplied with flasks of coffee, industrial-sized bags of snacks, telescopes and woolly hats, they spent many winter evenings tracking him until the evidence presented itself.
‘It was a pretty traumatic time for me as shortly afterwards the recession hit my property development career. I had to do something else and that’s when the idea of becoming a professional lady detective came to me. After all, I figured that lots of other women must have had similar experiences to me and that they would probably appreciate dealing with another woman,’ says Rebecca.
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She took some online detecting courses - yes, there are such things - listened to a disapproving lecture from her parents, gathered around her the same group of friends who had previously helped her and opened the agency. Rebecca was correct: right from the beginning, there were many women who wanted her services and today, she has offices both in the UK and America. So, what happens when a woman’s suspicions are justified; does Rebecca just confirm it in an email?
‘No, I don’t. I’ve never forgotten that I wanted sympathy when I was in that position; sometimes it’s a bit like providing a counselling service. Oh, and by the way, it’s not just women who come to us. These days, we also get our fair share of men. We usually see a spike in marital cases around this time of year, as Christmas can put a lot of stress on relationships.
‘Nowadays, the internet makes it easier to cheat if one is already inclined that way. I still have faith in humanity though because most people just aren’t inclined that way,’ says Rebecca, who isn’t married at the moment but who still believes in true love!
The internet also makes it easier for people to commit fraud, as well as making it easier to steal people’s identities for fraudulent purposes.
‘We are good at catching these,’ she says. ‘Ironically, it’s because modern technology helps us too - we’ve moved on from those nights when I had to use a bulky telescope to catch my partner.
‘Nowadays, equipment is tiny but amazingly powerful, such as small devices that can pick up conversations from a distance away. So yes, modern technology helps the bad ‘uns but they forget it helps us too.’
In a shrinking world, Rebecca’s cases can spread across several continents and she is quite used to hopping on a plane to solve a case that has perplexed others. A lot of travel can be involved when she is asked to track down children in custody cases - an area that she specialises in and which calls for huge amounts of sensitivity.
Rebecca has also been involved in the scourge of modern day slavery, helping to expose rings and rescue people both here and abroad. In fact, she is heavily involved in, Stopping Traffic, a charity that aims to end the practice.
‘Emotional intelligence is always necessary and that, as well as a good dollop of common sense, is just as essential in cracking cases as the most up to the minute equipment,’ she says.
One case which required a fair amount of common sense was the Case of the Hypo-Allergenic Cats! ‘When a client got in touch, complaining that the so called hypo-allergenic cat he had paid £7,000 for was anything but, my common sense told me that he had, so to speak, been sold a pup.’
Rebecca went to see the cat and its sneezing owner and then discovered that he was not the only one. Someone was doing a roaring trade in selling the pets. But how to catch him?
‘I tracked the seller down and posed as a potential buyer but told him that I wanted to see a photograph of the kitten with its mother. He sent me one and I was able to track it down to a genuine cat breeder who had been innocently selling cats to the fraudster; which he then sold on to unsuspecting cat lovers as hypo-allergenic. We caught him, reported him and he returned the money he had taken. Oh, and all the cats were found new homes with people who weren’t allergic to them, so pretty satisfying all round,’ says Rebecca.
‘Pretty satisfying all round’ is a good way to describe the amazing career of Lancashire’s Number One Lady Detective.