|The following investigative exercise is simple. The investigator is given only a stack
of receipts, and no other information. The investigator must come up with a theory
as to the identity of the subject, or subjects, and support their position. The
following document is an example of an exercise that I completed. I was given
aprox. 25 random receipts.
A Woman and Her Cat
The issue at hand is to determine the make up and demographics of a household
based solely on sales receipts for a given period. After scrutiny of the facts the
following conclusions were reached. The information supports the assumption that
this household consists of a single female who is short, chunky and over the age of
She has an adult cat as a pet, and they both live in Midwest City Ok. where she also
works. Her work schedule is Monday through Friday from 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM with
lunch at 11:00 AM. She drives an economy vehicle, smokes Marlboro cigarettes,
and has a checking account and a Visa credit card. She was most likely raised on
the East Coast but enjoys things of a western nature.
The time involved in this research is forty-two days. During this time the household
in question spent $131.36 on food items and most of the food items purchased were
snacks or quick meals such as frozen dinners, cream cheese, crackers etc. This
breaks down to $ 3.13 per day on the average or $ 21.91 per week. According to a
grocery spending survey conducted by The Dollar Stretcher, 44% of single member
families spend $0 to $25 per week on groceries, also listed in the same survey is the
U.S. national food expenditures which indicates a single family spends $48 per
week on groceries (“Grocery Spending Survey”). This combined with the types of
items purchased would support the theory of a single person household.
The issue of gender is answered by Wal-Mart receipts that show clothing
purchases. The receipts reflect the purchase of two pair of pull on jeans, and a
package of thigh high women’s briefs. An interview was conducted of a Wal-Mart
employee by the name of Irene. Irene works in the ladies department of the Wal-
Mart located on Loop 1604 in San Antonio Texas. Using a store computer Irene
was able to tell me that the two pair of pull-on jeans purchased were ladies pants.
She was also able to expand on the fact that they were size 16 petite. This size
would indicate that the person wearing them was short of stature and large waisted.
Irene looked up the women’s briefs on the computer and it supported the theory of a
large waisted woman. The item purchased was a 6 pack of Fruit of The Loom
women’s briefs in a size 9. The last item Irene referenced was a reversible tee
shirt. The computer provides the information that the tee shirt was an adult women’
s shirt. While it is possible that the subject is male and simply purchased the jeans
as a gift, it is not very likely that he would also purchase the women’s briefs, thus
pointing back to the forgone conclusion that the subject is female.
The age of the subject is based on the fact that on at least one occasion an
alcoholic beverage was purchased at one of the lunches. According to Oklahoma
State law, the minimum drinking age is 21 (“Frequently asked Questions); therefore,
we can be comfortable in assuming that this woman is at least 21 years of age.
The assumption of having a pet is validated by the purchase of pet related items
totaling $53.17. For a 42-day period, this is a substantial investment, which would
indicate pet ownership over the possibility of pet sitting. Robert Larner, a inventory
manager for Petsmart, was consulted in reference to our subjects purchases, and
the following information was obtained: The cat food purchased was a adult
maintenance formula manufactured by Science Diet. According to Mr. Larner, this
food is recommended for cats 1-7 years of age. The toys purchased are furry toys
of different types that can be used for dogs or cats, and the treats purchased are
recommended for cats. The obvious deduction is that she owns a cat.
Our subject’s place of residency is based mainly on grocery receipts and Midwest
City Ok. is the most likely area of residency. Most of our subjects grocery shopping
was done at Albertsons grocery store. A close analysis of the receipts provides a
store number of 2220, and a search of Albertson’s web site provided an address of
7520 E. Reno Ave. Midwest City, Ok. (“Albertsons Store Locator”). It would be
expected that a person would do their grocery shopping at a store close to their
home thus supporting the Midwest City residency idea. In addition, on 10/08/00
perishable food items were purchased at a Save-A-Lot store. The only items
purchased were milk, eggs, and potatoes which would indicate the subject grabbed
a few necessities needed for the home. A reasonable person would assume that
perishable necessities would be purchased at a smaller more convenient location
such as Save-A-Lot, which would be in close proximity to her home. The receipt for
the Save-A-Lot purchases lists an address of 7425 SE 15th St. Midwest City, Ok.
To determine where our subject works you can analyze the spending pattern of our
subject. During the week there are several restaurant receipts for a time period of
around 11:00 AM., and this pattern would indicate a set lunch hour. If a person has
only an hour for lunch and is going out, they would only have time to eat at a
location close to work. Most of the lunch receipts have no addresses on them
making it hard to determine, but one of them, the receipt from Mazzio’s, has an
address of 101 N. Douglas in Midwest City OK.
The spending habits of our subject can also tell us what her hours of work are. As
previously mentioned it is clear that our subject has a lunch hour of 11:00 AM, if this
is true then standard business practice would indicate that our subject begins work
at 7:00 AM. Further support for the work starting time can be found on a receipt
from Mid-West # 37. On 9/29/00, our subject purchased a carton of cigarettes and a
V8 from this location at 6:14 AM. on a Friday. The fact that the subject is on the
road at this time of the morning supports the fact that she is on her way to work. As
for the quitting time of our subject, if 7:00 AM were the time she starts work, then
once again standard business practice would dictate a 4:00 PM quitting time.
Analysis of the spending habits shows that our subject makes many purchases
during the week that take place shortly after 4:00 PM. This would be consistent with
the fact that most people will stop at the store right after work if they need something
By looking at a map of Oklahoma, and the Midwest City area in particular, we can
see that most of the spending done by the subject is in a fairly small area of travel
(“Mapquest”), and we can deduce from our subjects gasoline receipts that she is
driving an economy vehicle. During our period of study, the subject purchased gas
on three separate occasions. The average purchased per visit was 9.44 gallons
and this would indicate a small gas tank which is standard on economy vehicles.
On three separate occasions our subject purchased cigarettes. Once she
purchased a single pack of Marlboro cigarettes, once a carton of Marlboro
cigarettes, and on another occasion the carton of cigarettes is not identified as to
brand. The quantity of cigarettes purchased for the time period points to the fact
that not only is our subject fond of Marlboro cigarettes, she is a fairly heavy smoker
The receipts used for this research paper reflect our subject used three methods of
payment when carrying out the purchases. She used a check to pay mainly for
groceries, which confirms the fact that she has a checking account. A Visa credit
card was used for a number of purchases, and the same card was used each time
as referenced by the card number and expiration date on the receipts.
The issue of our subject being from the East Coast of the United States is
speculative based on the items our subject purchases at the grocery store. An
interview was conducted of two retired couples, the Dodson’s and the Polanski’s,
both couples travel the United States on a regular basis, and have spent a fair
amount of time in most states.
The couples both agreed that items such as smoked salmon, pumpernickel and rye
bread, and knockwurst are food items generally eaten by persons in the Eastern
states such as Philadelphia, New York, or New Jersey.
Though the previous items indicate an East Coast influence, our subject definitely
likes western culture. This is obvious from her choice of entertainment during the
research period and a few other hints suggested by the receipts. Our subject
attended such events as the State Fair of Oklahoma, Sprints – Pro Stocks and
Demolition Derby, the Ty Herndon & PRCA Championship Rodeo, and a place
called Frontier City. Her clothing purchases included two pair of jeans and a tee
shirt, and on 10/16/00, she traveled to Norman, OK. to visit the Shawnee Tribal
Store where she purchased a miscellaneous item for $21.65.
Any reasonable person would agree that the facts provided, paint a clear picture of
the original assumption. The facts are clear and based on common knowledge
supported by statistical facts and figures. The receipts provided for this assignment
most surely came from a single person household, and this person is clearly a short
chunky female who smokes too much. She is over 21 years of age, has a pet cat
that she loves and they both live in Midwest City, Oklahoma where she also
works. Her work schedule is 7:00 AM to 4:00PM Monday through Friday with
lunch at 11:00 AM. She drives an economy vehicle, has a checking account, Visa
credit card, and although she grew up on the East Coast, has a preference for
things of a western nature. The last item mentioned probably explains why she is in
Midwest City, Oklahoma in the first place.