Madison, WI – Dane County’s sheriff is raising concerns about a company he said may be confused with sworn deputies. Sheriff Dave Mahoney said he was notified by Madison police of an incident on Aug. 25 off Fordem Avenue in Madison, where a mother reported a man approaching two 12-year-olds near an apartment building, asking how to get into the basements.
The kids reported to a Madison police officer that the man told them a car inside the underground garage was stolen and promised the kids $75 if they called “Investigator Jan” when they saw the vehicle.
“In this case they handed out a business card identifying themselves as Dane County Investigations with a person’s name on it, a badge and a magnifying glass,” Mahoney told News 3.
The company is registered with the state of Wisconsin as “Dane County Investigations & Recovery, LLC” to Michael Jahn of Madison, filing as a business in July of 2015.
Mahoney is concerned people in the community may confuse the company’s representatives with sworn Dane County deputies and detectives.
“The problem exists where these kids thought or may have thought that they were law enforcement officers and may have been more prone to follow the direction of this individual believing that they were a police officer,” Mahoney said.
The kids called the investigator that day, who returned to the garage, towed a car and gave them $20, according to an MPD report.
Jahn told News 3 his is a legitimate and legal company, and that there should be no reason for confusion because he is not identifying himself as an officer or deputy. He also said that offering “finders fees” for helping to identify property to be repossessed is a typical and legal practice.
He declined an on-camera interview with News 3, pending legal advice and while he tried to personally reach the sheriff.
Mahoney said he wanted the community to know that they should call 911 if they’re not sure someone they’re dealing with is an officer.
“Be wary,” Mahoney said. “And know that you have the right to ask for formal identification.”