The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa on October 1, 1984 · Page 21
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The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa · Page 21

Des Moines, Iowa
Issue Date:
Monday, October 1, 1984
Page 21
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Register ran:: tv U3n::3 C Me, Oct 1, 19S4 Jr: s x si:onvaL Sam Soda's 'technique' It appeaii In The Register want ads: "REWARD - Cash paid (or hard Information about employee theft from warehousing, businesses ... heavy equipment theft. Insurance fraud, arson, workman's comp. All calls confidential. No Names." Then a phone number. What is this? A chance to get rich or become a hero by solving a big crime? No, it's a technique by a Des Moines private investigator, Sam Soda, to earn money, and while he wont say now much, he readily admits gaining a wealth of information a boat human nature. Soda said two types answer his ad: "Street people" who are likely to hear about thefts, and "plain people'' who want to get even with someone. The ad is not aimed at solving any particular theft, but a random snot into the world of crime and citizen dishonesty, hoping to snag something. Does it work? Well, Soda says the ad costs about $537 a month, and It's been running for two years. In the case of "street people," Soda says a typical case might go like this: Someone calls, usually a man. He knows where a stolen semi-trailer truck is hidden. He wants a reward. Soda's first response is, "Dont tell me who you are or how I can get in touch with you." This, says Soda, assures the caller that he won't become involved; he could become endangered. Next, Soda asks about the truck: "Has it been chopped' yet?" "These big trucks come apart like Tinker Toys," Soda explains. "It's big business, choppin' these rigs." The trucks are then sold as parts. Soda asks his caller to find out if an insurance company has paid the theft victim for the truck's value. The guy comes up with the information, sets his reward at, say, $500, Soda adds another $200 or $300 for himself, then asks the insurance company if they'll pay that much for the recovery. If they will, Soda waits for another call giving the truck's location, then calls the police. : "In most cases I give it to the cops," Soda says. "If there's a recovery, I want law enforcement involved in it" '. He says this preserves good relations with the police, and although insurance companies pay Soda the reward (some of which he passes along to his caller), insurance companies deal with police on the actual recovery. Soda admits that some insurance companies fear his procedure could encourage theft by individuals who . could turn a quick profit without having to sell their loot But this fear is because "insurance companies don't understand street people," Soda insists. He argues that car thieves who go through it once are unlikely to risk it again. Soda also admits that insurance companies have challenged the ethics, even legality, of his system, but he likens it to a police "hot line" for crime prevention, insists that he breaks no law and keeps good tax records. He will not disclose bow he gets reward money to callers whose names and addresses he does not know. But the payment method satisfies Internal Revenue Service requirements, Soda says. Most calls (two or three a week) involve workers' compensation fraud, and Soda says they usually are reported by acquaintances who have been angered, perhaps in a neighbors' spat In one call, a woman reported that a neighbor left one company with an "injury" for which she draws full disability compensation. But actually, the caller reported, the woman has formed her own businesses, at which she works full time, and does heavy housework. Why was she reporting this? She was mad because the woman boasted about getting away with it In her first call, the woman didn't even mention a reward, and Soda says this is typical. While some insurance companies are reluctant to deal with Soda in theft cases, he says, Tve never been turned down in a workmen's compensation case. People don't understand how much companies pay it'd knock your socks off." Workers' compensation was launched as a protection to employees, but it has become a con. Soda says. When he gets a call suggesting fraud, he approaches the company paying the compensation. Since all such cases must be investigated, Soda offers to do the investigating. Thus, instead of a "reward," he earns money for investigating, passing along a share to his caller. Again, while some might raise their eyebrows at Soda's tactics, he insists it is essential that be keep his ethical and professional reputation with law enforcement officials totally pure. : "If I say the sun will rise in the west, get your camera," says Soda. -WcdtShotwell l Meet two 'Coke' addicts: Pete and Jean Yakish n Mil i Ml I M I V f """- l. llirA 1 I m s sw iBaw-m tammt By VALERIE MONSON retSTEB MOTM BY BOB NANDELL RMMMT SM WlMr am is V i .ciST Tap and tap right Part at Pete aai Jean's Iray etUeetlML Above, center A few ef their IN . Aheve: A Christmas tray. US "4 If . f i 1 - i ike many celebrities, their names are synonymous with "coke." Pete and Jean Yakish, though, make no bones about it - . they're hopelessly hooked. J The basement of their southside u Des Moines home, once a place to play pool or escape summer's beat, has been transformed into a den of "coke" where the fruits of their buying binges lie everywhere. They've spent plenty of money to support their habit for the same reason that most addicts give: "It's a lot of fun!" Pete keeps repeating. "We just have a lot of fun with it It's great fun!" Pathetic, isn't it? Hold it a sec. While Pete and Jean Yakish admit to being introduced to the world of "coke" three years ago and becoming slaves to the stuff within just a few months, there's no need to call the cops or the rehab center. We're talking capital "C" here versus lower case "c". Pete and Jean are into the Coke that you slurp, not snort Their addiction is one of the latest sweeping the nation: collecting Coke memorabilia in the same vein as folks who hoard stamps, old coins ' and ceramic pigs. From only 15 members a decade ago, The Cola Clan a group devoted to the soft drink like Star Trek fans are to Spock has ballooned to nearly 3,000. Each year there is a national five-day Coke convention where the Cokies' talk Coke, swap Coke and drink what else Coke (for the Coke weary, there's wine available, too). "If there's a flea market within 50 miles that I know will have even one Coke glass for sale, then I'll go," swears Jean, who already is counting the days until the 1986 convention in Atlanta to celebrate the 100th birthday of the soda pop whose original recipe included a hit of cocaine and often billed itself as the drink that "relieves fatigue." Such enthusiasm and dedication is why Jean Yakish now has without a doubt, says her husband theeee largest assembly of Coke glasses under one roof in the state of Iowa and one of the top five collections in the entire nation. "Yes, I think that's right," says Jean with a proud smile, standing in front of the shelves that hold some of the 500 glasses she has purchased and bartered for. Pretty heady stuff until Pete tells you that Jean probably has not only the largest accumulation of Coke advertisements in Iowa, but in all of America as well Because the latest thing always seems to travel to the Midwest with the speed of a slug, Pete and Jean are finding that it can be lonely at the top of the Coke beap. They are still trying to get an Iowa chapter of The Cola Clan started (they claim about 20 persons are interested), but until tbey do they will remain the only out-of-state members of a Kansas City group. Jean admits that most people are dumbfounded when she invites them downstairs to the basement where their Coke collection is hanging on the walls, stuffed into cabinets, stacked on the floor, langling from the ceiling and scattered about the tables. Mostly there are various types of special issue glasses Japanese-made ones commemorating the Olympics, a series from Austria, another from Spain, some from Germany, Holland, Switserland and Italy. There are dozens of trays old and new, large and small and four volumes of the slick ads Jean has removed from magazines as far back as the Roaring Twenties. 'O. 0 There are Coke key chains, Coke penknives, Coke lighters, Coke pillowcases, Coke playing cards, Coke bingo cards, Coke screwdrivers and, of course, Coke spoons. Strangely enough, there are only a few Coke bottles and cans. "Well, yon have to draw the line somewhere," says Jean. "You don't try and collect everything." Jean was dragged into the Coke family quite by accident Even though she and Pete live only a few doors from the Coca Cola plant here, they were satisfied to simply drink it ("I was weened on Coke," claims Jean) until one day when they were scouring a flea market in Springfield, Mo., and happened upon a stuffed Santa Claus they thought would make a nice Christmas gift for their grandson. "But then a man came up to me and offered me $10 for if says Jean. "I could've doubled my money by selling it but I thought maybe it really was worth something." Turns out the Santa was no ordinary Santa. It was a Coca Cola Santa. The very sight of it was enough to give a Coke freak the heebie-jeebies. "I asked Pete's son Terry, 'Do I really have something?' and he said, 'You sure do,' " recalls Jean. Suddenly, Coke was a major part of their lives and the grandson never did get his Santa Claus. "I just shudder when the grandkids come down here," says Jean in the basement where her glasses are displayed within hand's reach of one entering the prime of the Terrible Is. With such a limited Coke network around here, Pete and Jean had to seek outside contacts. They have now journeyed the world in search of Coke artifacts, crisscrossed the country to Coke klatches with new friends. Just recently they returned from the 10th annual gathering of The Cola Clan in California, driving the entire way where they bargained for so many Coke souvenirs there was no room in the trunk for their luggage. In fact when they went to Europe a year ago Jean had to buy another suitcase just for all the Coke doodads she found. Who cares if tbey ever found the Louvre when there was a rare Coke glass to be had down on the Seine. Jean admits that ber addiction to Coke isn't all that different from the coke that Hollywood prefers. "You start with the quarter items, and then it's up to 50 cents and then, before you know it you're into the things that cost $1," says Jean. "I've collected most of the cheaper stuff. Now I'm afraid this is really going to start costing me money." Of course, like those original Beatks records that Mom threw out a few years ago, all this Coke paraphernalia will be worth something one of these days. And some Coke collectors consider this to be their legacy. "Well, we know this one couple who has got it in their will," says Jean. She and Pete have yet to go that far, but should their basement suddenly become a real Cokemine, it could happen. Jean guarantees that this Coke thing will not take over her life. It will Just be "for fun," she and Pete say over and over again. "It stays down in the basement" she says emphatically, before admitting a bit sheepishly, "Well, I do have a few things in an upstairs bedroom, but that's it It won't go any farther. I will not eat sleep and breathe Coke." In fact now that she and Pete have entered middle age, they don't even drink it anymore. Now it's Diet Coke or nothing.

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