Mini Crime Wave

May 20, 1998
  Well! We certainly did have a bit of excitement here today!

As I was driving home from work this afternoon I noticed a police helicopter doing lazy circles in the sky ahead. From that distance it was hard to tell where exactly it was focusing, but it looked like it might be my neighborhood. As I got closer it became clear that it was my neighborhood and started to look like it might be my street. Closer still and I saw that it was my block. Turning the corner to my street, I was confronted by a phalanx of police officers trotting down the block toward my house.

Well, it turned out that my house wasn't their target since they didn't really have a target. Yet. It seems someone had been seen burgling the apartments down the street and had taken off in our general direction. Cops were scurrying everywhere trying to set up a perimeter, the helicopter was clattering overhead, police cars were roaring up and down the street, and somewhere there was a miscreant making a mad dash for daylight.

My first thought as I finally got through the hordes of blue and parked my truck in the driveway was that I was glad Zoe was at preschool. My second thought was that the battered side gate leading to my backyard -- the gate practically hanging off its hinges -- would be very inviting to someone trying to get off the street. My third thought was that I've really got to fix that gate. I went in the house, did a quick search to make sure nobody was there who shouldn't be there, then did the same for the back yard. Then I grabbed my screwgun and nailbag and went out to fix that stupid gate. Nothing like closing the barn door after the cow almost got out...or in, as the case may be.

So I'm out there, doing my none-too-soon home improvement bit, glancing up occasionally as cop cars go zooming down the street and officers on foot go pounding by, when I notice a flurry of activity on my across-the-street neighbor's front yard. And there, lo and behold, are a couple of officers wrestling a lanky, skinny, second-rate teenage burglar into submission. It seems our young bargain shopper had made his way down the block by way of back yards, hopping the walls from one to another, and had poked his nose out to get the lay of the land just as a patrol car was passing by. And was unceremoniously grabbed up.

I watched for a minute before returning to my task at hand, and I reflected on what a moron this guy was for burglarizing an apartment building where half the residents are on welfare and thus are home all day long while half a block away was a whole street of houses where people actually have the money to buy things worth stealing and are at work during the day. Not that I would have thought any more of him if he'd picked his mark with more discretion, but if you're going to do something stupid you should at least try to be smart about it.

And then it occurred to me that he was at least a little lucky, if not exactly a rocket scientist; he hadn't been hopping yards on my side of the street. On this side his first stop would have been the yard of the weirdo we call John Wayne Gacy, who may well have cooked him for lunch; then there would have been a couple of yards with small, yappy dogs that would have given him away; then there would have been my neighbor's yard with two large, hungry dogs who definitely would have had him for lunch; and then he would have had to go through me, who gets annoyed when people knock on my door, let alone jump into my yard.

Then I finished fixing the gate and went inside. Just a little excitement on Archwood Street...

I can't wait to move.

Copyright © 1998
Chuck Atkins