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Newmarket PI cracks cases and sports records

In this week's What's Up Wednesday, meet Debbie Peever, who when she's not tracking philandering husbands and medical insurance scammers is winning championship titles in golf and powerlifting
2020 01 17 Debbie Peever
Newmarket resident and private investigator, Debbie Peever, is the 2019 Amateur World Long Drive Champion in the seniors division. Supplied photo

Philandering husbands, medical insurance scammers, industrial spies and accused murderers are all routine in the case files of Newmarket private investigator Debbie Peever. 

“We deal with everything from murder and white-collar crime, to domestics,” said the president and chief investigator of Private Eyes Investigative Services, which she founded in 2000 after being laid off from a data reporting job at IBM.

And when she’s not working undercover on covert operations, surveillance, and tracking and tracing fraudulent behaviour, you’ll find Peever overachieving in her side hustles: golfing and powerlifting.

The Newmarket resident is a Team Canada long drive golfer, holds the title of 2019 Amateur World Long Drive Champion in the seniors division, and travels the world competing in the Golf Channel’s prestigious World Long Drive Championship.

It doesn’t stop there.

The Team Canada powerlifter is the 2019 Commonwealth Powerlifting Champion and 2019 National Champion, holds the national record in squat in her class, and ranks ninth in the world in three lift.

“I’ve always been athletic,” Peever said with understated humility. “I played a lot of sports.”

With some prompting, she’ll acknowledge she took up golf later in life — about five years ago — when a doctor advised her to retire from playing softball after being hit in the face with a not-so-soft ball.

A friend had given her golf lessons for her birthday, though she added that she learned how to long drive before she learned how to master the game itself.

Everybody, of course, asks how long she can drive the ball.

“It depends on the conditions,” she said, “But about 327 yards.”

The secret to her long drive success is, simply put, “speed".

“A fast swing is the most powerful thing,” she said.

When not travelling across North American to compete, Peever said she enjoys playing on nearby Silver Lakes Golf and Country Club in East Gwillimbury — which is also the site of the annual Golf 2 Remember tournament she participates in for the Alzheimer Society of York.

Peever has also achieved instant success in power training, which she took up only two years ago.

“All the top golfers are doing power training,” she said nonchalantly. “I think anyone can do it.”

She began training with Todd Matthews of Matthews Fitness and Nutrition in Aurora, beginning with benchpressing, then adding squats, “which is my No. 1 move right now,” Peever said.

The first competition she entered was three lift, which is squat, bench and deadlift, totalling 300 kg.

Peever won the nationals in 2019, in her 63 kg weight category, and holds a national record in squats, and also won in the three lift at the Commonwealth Games. She also qualified for the Worlds.

“I love it,” she said, “It’s exciting.”

“When I go out there and they know my age and I beat them, nothing is better.”

She was reluctant to divulge her age — 50 ― when she initially began competing “because they treat you differently”, but she’s over that now.

“You can’t stay 20 forever, it is what it is.”

Peever, a graduate of applied science from the University of Guelph, also began her successful career as a private investigator “by fluke".

After leaving IBM, she began working as a receptionist at a private investigation firm in Aurora, as she tried to decide what path her career should follow next.

It didn’t take long for her to figure out that private investigation was right up her alley.

She apprenticed with the firm, wrote the private investigation exams, received her licence from the Ministry of the Solicitor General, and launched her firm with a partner in Thornhill two years later.

Her firm’s clients include corporations and businesses, family and criminal lawyers, insurance companies and individuals.

Divorce cases and insurance fraud are the bread and butter of the business, and involve a lot of surveillance, she said.

She admitted to having a “soft spot” for the divorce cases because she’s typically helping women who require physical evidence that a husband is cheating. 

“I don’t take any case, sometimes they need someone to talk to, or I’ll refer them to mediation,” she added.

But it’s the insurance fraud cases she especially enjoys working on, and she has garnered a perfect success rate.

She typically begins the case by tracking down the person, starting by perusing social media sites and doing basic record searches. 

“And we find out their garbage day, and no matter what, we have caught them doing something,” Peever said with a smile of the people who claim to be disabled by an injury. “Married, single, living in an apartment, whatever, they are hauling that garbage out.”

A fresh snowfall can also provide lucrative surveillance results, as the supposedly injured are caught vigorously cleaning off their cars.

She recalled a case involving a man who supposedly had a back injury that prevented him from using stairs or walking for long distances. He was observed putting soccer gear in his car, and when he was followed, he was caught on video playing soccer.

One of the most interesting cases she cracked was an airline ticket scam she worked on for International Air Transport Association (IATA), which involved surveillance of the scammers and setting up a sting. 

“We have a high success rate,” Peever said of her firm, which has five employees and offices in Newmarket and Thornhill. “We’ve cracked cases others couldn’t, we have a good reputation.”

Priorities in her admittedly “very full life” are her family, including her parents, siblings, and nieces and nephews.

She was adopted as a baby, and in 1992 found her birth father, mother and four brothers. She helps to care for her youngest brother, who has spina bifida.

Not married herself, she adores her 11 great-nieces and great-nephews — “They are my life, all of them, they can always call Aunt Debbie.”

And she’s already looking forward to May, when the Golf Channel long drive championship is set to kicks off for another season in South Carolina.



Debora Kelly

About the Author: Debora Kelly

Debora Kelly is NewmarketToday's editor. She is an award-winning journalist and communications professional who is passionate about building strong communities through engagement, advocacy and partnership.
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