Madeleine v Creative Cupcakes

If you are wondering what Creative Cupcakes has to do with Madeleine, there is a sense in which the answer is nothing, but there is an alternative insight.

It looks like Creative Cupcakes operates as a franchise, based on the intricacy of the cupcakes and the design of the packaging, and there is now one on the Algarve.

All of the following information is available of the Internet and is being actively promoted, so I am not revealing any personal details here.

The Algarve or Barlavento (western Algarve) franchise holder appears to be a lady called Marie Corey. Her business card gives the following details. Her website is creativecupcakes.moonfruit.com. She can be contacted at mariecorey@hotmail.co.uk, so presumably she came to the Algarve from the UK. Her Portuguese number is (+351) 919725785, a mobile telephone number. Her UK number is (+44) 07813 603 707, another mobile number.

She is based near Albufeira, but is willing to deliver to Luz for the price of her petrol for the round trip (and subject to a minimum order).

Her Portuguese phone number does not appear in the Portuguese White or Yellow Pages. Perhaps this is because she is too new to appear, perhaps not. We learned of her via Facebook, and that may be the business model used by Creative Cupcakes.

We now have a small business (one woman with a supplier) that allows us to think about how Creative Cupcakes, or similar, might have influenced the Luz phone traffic, if it had been around on 2-4 May 2007.

First, the cupcakes were ordered by mobile from Luz, so there would be at least one activation of a Luz antenna for that. There may have been another at delivery time, re directions to the drop-off point.

Now we need to turn to the nature of the small business. I would not expect a huge demand for cupcakes in Luz in May 2007. The business does non-Christmas ones as well, for events like birthdays and anniversaries, but we are not discussing a major traffic source in this instance.

There is almost certainly a land line where Marie Corey lives. As she is out and about, delivering cupcakes or simply getting on with her daily life, taking business traffic via a mobile makes sense.

As Marie seems to be armed with two mobiles, the question now is does she have another, for non-business use? I would suggest not. The bureaucracy around running a very small venture like this is frighteningly large in Portugal, so most such ventures operate off the radar. If that is true in this instance, then Marie will be using what is a fairly standard set-up here, one Portuguese mobile and one English mobile, for both business and personal use. Topped by a fair chance that there is no entry in the phone directories in Portugal for the mobile, as she is using Facebook and business cards.

This is the challenge that faced the PJ in analysing the 74,104 calls and texts made into and out of Luz on 2-4 May 2007, and the same for Operation Grange.

The report by PJ Inspector Paulo Dias concluded that with the sheer volume of information, it was impossible to make sense of it by boiling it down. It was necessary to have one or more suspects, then analyse the traffic for those to see whether it appeared normal or suspicious.

Operation Grange appears to be following the same pattern. Three of the people made arguidos in July 2014 seem to be linked by phone traffic in the relevant period.

I happen to think the alternative approach is also feasible. That it is possible to take phone numbers from 2007, to predict the traffic pattern, and then to see if the actual traffic conforms to the predicted pattern or not. In doing so, the analyst can strip out multiple Luz numbers that are simply following a predicted pattern, leaving a smaller number of unexplained calls/texts to examine.

The next challenge in this reduction strategy is getting one’s hands on 2007 telephone information that was on the radar. If Operation Grange has not done this, it has missed a major opportunity. Hopefully, Operation Grange has access to computerised versions of this information.

I am in possession of Portugal Blue Pages 2011 Algarve edition. This is a businesses and services directory and despite its title it was printed in 2010, probably around 2.5 years after Madeleine disappeared. It has 178 pages. A fair chunk of this is taken up with advertising, but where it is not, there are around 40 entries per page. My guesstimate is it has somewhere around 5,000 numbers, with a mixed bag of land lines and mobiles, large businesses that Operation Grange should find easily, and little one person ventures that are probably a bit more difficult. For example, the “Adults Only – 18+” section has 11 entries, 10 of which are mobiles. Make up your own mind as to how widely these numbers were advertised and their longevity.

My issue in using this information is that it is paper-based, not computer based. Unless Operation Grange gets in touch with info@portugalbluepages.com, I am sitting on a book that is hard to use. It is ordered by business type, then alphabetically. There is no easy way to check anything.

So there you have it in a cupcake. There is a vast sea of information about mobiles residing in multiple sources, and that can be used to distil the 74,104 items of phone traffic to a much more manageable number.

Assuming, of course, Operation Grange chooses to do so.

Finishing up on a lighter note, Creative Cupcakes delivers in multiples of six, not the five I showed in my Christmas Day photo. So, what happened to the 6th? I was led to believe that these were all for me, so, safe in this knowledge, I left them to 25 Dec 2015 as I wanted to do a nice little Xmas photo. However, my better half, not knowing my plan, decided to try one on Christmas Eve.

Poor old Rudolph got his head bitten in half. That’s a risky thing to do when your waiting for Father Xmas. Surely the Xmas tree, the snowman, or the Christmas pud would have been a safer option?

As it happens, we still got a visit from Santa Claus!

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