Thursday, August 14, 2008

Heartbreak Turns Happy

“To Catch a Thief,” the REAL story

Letters, we get letters, we get stacks and stacks of letters: Ok, that was the start of a song from “Your Hit Parade.” Remember the dancing cigarette package – LSMFT? No? Well, ok, we get emails and we don’t smoke, and even if we did we wouldn’t inhale. A recent letter came from a reader near our nation’s capital. The topic was not political, although she reads our political satire sometimes. I’m crushed. I thought she’d read it daily. But back to her story.

Three grad students in an apartment: The apartment is in a three story building and is occupied by three recently graduated coeds. At least one is studying law and at least one of the three’s boyfriend is a law student as well. The other morning two of the roommates had left for school and work and the third was in the bathroom preparing for the day. She heard a noise out front but paid it little mind, assuming that one of the forgetful roomies had returned for something she’d forgotten. Happens regularly.

She felt like she was in an episode of Candid Camera: When the remaining roommate finished with the primping, powder, and paint, dressed, and headed into the living room to leave she froze in her tracks. The door was open and the living room was bare. Computers, gone. TV sets, gone. Iphone and Itunes, gone. Everything of value that was easily transported had been cleaned out. It did not even cross her mind at first that she had been at risk by being alone in the apartment. Fortunately the burglars either grabbed and ran or peeked in and saw her and decided to take things that could be easily sold or pawned.

Behavior in a crisis often defies logic: She called her roommate at work and told what had happened. She said she’d walked back to the bathroom and out again several times to make sure she was not imagining but the cupboard was still bare. Was somebody playing a trick on her? No, it was real. They had been burgled and lost not only items that could be replaced but data on the computers crucial for projects and other school and work activities that would be difficult if not impossible to replicate. She sat on the couch and began to shiver as she thought what might have been. Soon her roommate and both their boyfriends arrived. Together they went to the manager to report the theft.

This ain’t our first rodeo: The manager of the apartment told the gals that theirs was not the first apartment to be victimized. It seems a ring of burglars had been casing the area trying to figure out whose apartment was vacant during the day, then breaking in. It was a modus operandi the manager had seen before. Why weren’t the tenants told about this? Well, corporate did not want to alarm the tenants. (That is code for, we don’t want you to break your leases and leave our place unoccupied). To the next question they answered, yes, they do have renters insurance but that is not the point.

Candidate for one of the world’s dumbest criminals: During the conversation a couple of young men came into the office, said they were renters and their car had been towed. The manager said, “Which apartment do you live in?” At which point the two youngsters turned and ran. One of the roommates had sensed during the conversation that something did not seem right about the lads. They seemed nervous and were wearing hoodies despite the warm August weather. So she surreptitiously took out her cell phone and snapped their picture – several times. The manager phoned the towing company and was told that a car had just been brought in that had been towed from a red zone in that very location. Another of the roomies was already on the phone with the police to report the events.

Bad boy, bad boy, whatcha gonna do when they come for you: A detective was promptly dispatched after the car was sealed for possible evidence, complete with all the stolen goods from the burglary. If the detective seemed happy that the good citizens of greater Washington D.C. had the presence of mind to call the tow company, he was ecstatic to get the photos of the suspicious possible perps and within minutes had electronically distributed the photos to the local gendarmes who picked up the suspects in short order. Ain’t technology grand? Three cheers for the roommates and their boyfriends who conspired to catch the no-good-niks, and even to the property manager who atoned for not warning them of the burglar ring. And hazzah to the cops and their technology. Don’t you just love a story with a happy ending?

A little blogging music Maestro... “Pardon Me I’ve Got Somebody to Kill” by Johnny Paycheck.

Dr. Forgot
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