Sunday March 13, 2011 | 06:23 PM
The Internet has made sleuthing all too easy. These days you can stalk an old flame from eight states away with a little help from online pals like Facebook and Spokeo. They make everyone a bit of a super spy.

But in Portland on Saturday, locals went old-school secret agent during Operation: Mission: The Operation, an in-town spy game put together by Portland Roots.

Teams met up at Sebago Brewing Company to check in and get the details of their mission: Find missing agent Victor Quinn.

At noon, we were handed envelopes with important documents, including a letter from the missing agent, a long list of random words, a playing card, decoder and instructions. Oh yes, and a free coffee voucher from the good people at Arabica.

Clues in the envelope led us to a staircase-to-nowhere just off Spring Street, where we were directed to find a city and state reference at the base of the stairs. It took a while, and other teams came and went, but we eventually realized the clue was referring to a moisture-resistant pipe cap on the wall.

We had to present this finding to the staff at Arabica, who then handed over a sheet of newspaper classifieds, which we searched for another clue.

We were led to stops at Rosie's and Fore Play to rendezvous with strangers and gather more intelligence. Teams that offered the wrong information at the meeting were likewise directed to the wrong place - and "Fake Victor."

Teams sleuthed all the way up the East End hill to read dates on the Portland Observatory and spent a good deal of time trying to make sense of a coded voice mail.

Eventually, most teams tracked down Victor Quinn on a bench behind the Ocean Gateway Terminal - and all but the winner were immediately shot by a Nerf gun.

Turns out, Victor Quinn was actually Victoria Quinn. Very sneaky.

Team M and M discovered Victoria first, meaning they got her secret documents and a wad of cash for their efforts.

All the teams were rewarded with post-spy revelry at Bull Feeney's, where we swapped stories, compared notes and agreed: being a spy for a day was pretty darn cool.

Portland Roots is planning more events in the near future, including Board Game Olympics in April.

For more on Portland Roots or to sign up for their email newsletter (you know, to stay apprised of future goings on) go to

More photos from Operation: Mission: The Operation

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Shannon Bryan, content producer for MaineToday Media, likes exploring Maine - from mattress races to cardboard boats, she's into the weird stuff.

Karen Beaudoin, online editor for MaineToday Media, likes knowing the important things - like who's just opened their deck for a sunny afternoon beer and what Portland's eclectic set of street performers are up to.

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