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ATLANTA - Every Valentine's Day Jeanene Weiner, a mother of two, hops into her Mercedes and goes trolling for married men who do not mind cheating on their wives.
She sits across from them at restaurants and eyes them carefully - recording their every move with a hidden camera.
Weiner, 44, is a private investigator. And those in her profession said there was no better day to dig up dirt on philandering spouses than Valentine's Day.
It's the day a man who is having an affair is expected to do something romantic for both his wife and his girlfriend.
So, like flower shops and restaurants, jewellery stores and greeting card companies, sleuths such as Weiner will be busy today.
There are about 60 000 private investigators in the US and more than half their business comes from suspicious spouses who want their significant others tailed.
"Eighty percent of cheating spouses will try to spend part of the day with the other person," said Jimmie Mesis, editor of the trade journal PI magazine.
Ruth Houston, author of Is He Cheating On You?, said she discouraged the use of private investigators, but makes an exception for Valentine's Day.
"I have seen too many people spend a lot, only to come up empty except for a receipt," Houston said.
"But if someone is cheating, they are going to make contact on Valentine's Day."
Weiner is the founder of Busted Confidential Investigations.
Her Valentine's Day begins early, because she knows that many cheaters will schedule a breakfast or a lunch tryst.
"This way, they get to go home after work and spend a romantic evening with the person they're married to, and no one suspects a thing," she said. Among the cases Weiner tackles, charging about R540 an hour, is for a woman who has been married for 30 years. Lately though, her husband has become uncharacteristically religious.
He goes to church early in the morning on Sundays, and does not return until 9pm.
But Weiner suspects he is worshipping at an earthly altar.
"We have narrowed it down to a girl from work who goes to the same church."
Indeed, when men cheat, it is usually with someone they have met through work, investigators said.
But they are horrible at covering their tracks, said Stan Lewis of ICU Investigations.
"I had a [husband] going to the girlfriend's house five days a week at the same time every day," he said.
Women cheat just as often as men, investigators have found, but they are extra careful. They are smart enough to schedule their rendezvous for the day before or after Valentine's Day to avoid raising suspicion.
And their excuses also are more creative. Which is precisely why some investigators relish cases involving a cheating wife.
Tina Elkins of Tama Investigations recounted a case when she was hired to tail a married woman.
The weekend before Valentine's Day, the woman told her husband she wasn't going to be home - something about being out of town with her girlfriends.
Instead, she met with her lover at a motel in Columbus, where they spent two days.
Elkins checked into the room next door, and through the thin walls, captured what she euphemistically described as "a lot of audio.
They would go out to eat, come back, and we would catch more audio," she said.
Atlanta attorney Robert Kaufman said he had clients come to him with evidence that a detective had dug up on their cheating spouses on Valentine's Day. "It's certainly a time when people's romantic instincts get the best of them and trip them up."
That certainly was the case with an Atlanta lawyer. He had been married for 20 years.
The two had met on Valentine's Day, and every year without fail, they made a night out at a French restaurant.
But last year, the lawyer convinced his wife that he was tied up at work on a major case. Sensing something was not right, the wife contacted Weiner.
It wasn't difficult to find the attorney that evening. He was at the same French restaurant, with another woman.
"I knew they weren't in there playing Parcheesi [a board game]," the wife said.
This is not to say that the cheating unearthed on Valentine's Day always ends up in divorce. - Cox News Service