It had been the longest, most frustrating night at work. My eighth day in a row consisted of being neck deep in the weeds and also a ten percent tip average. As they say in Mexico, no bueno.
I got home around eleven, ate my Vegan Cobb Salad (better than it sounds) and then switched off the lights around midnight to head upstairs and put my bad day behind me. Outside the house was illuminated by my front porch light, and as I passed the window by the front door, I noticed a man standing suspiciously all by himself right out front. I dismissed it as life in Church Hill and started to keep going but then I heard noise, so I turned back around and witnessed him smashing in my neighbor’s back car window and extracting a bulky black box (stereo equipment?) from the backseat.
My adrenaline raced and I almost opened the door to yell at him but thought better of it and immediately dialed 9-1-1. I could still see him as I spoke with the dispatch officer and was able to describe the man and his outfit (camo parka with a fur trim, light jeans, tall and skinny) as he hurried down the road and stopped in a cut-through between two houses, still plainly visible, to maybe ditch the goods and come back for them later. I saw him looking back and wondered if he could see me staring directly at him from my window, but I couldn’t worry about that. I told the lady on the phone all the information I had (description, what had happened, where he was headed) to the best of my ability and waited for the cops to show up.
A squad car showed up momentarily, went past the house and drove back behind the houses through the alley with their brights on trying to find the suspect. A couple minutes later another cruiser parked in front and I went out to meet the two young officers (yes, one was hot) and tell them the story again. They said the other guys had actually had caught someone already that matched the description and that they were going to meet up with them to check it out and come back.
Ten minutes later a knock on my door brought me back downstairs and Officer C came in to talk to me. He said the guy they caught running a few blocks over who fit exactly my description but he had nothing on him except his cell phone. They said the only way they’d have any proof was if I could give a positive I.D. and asked if I’d be willing to do a “ride by”, which meant I’d have to get in the car with them, go to where he was being held, and say if it was him or not. Even without the stolen goods (which they hadn’t seen in the area I told them to search), if I could say it was him they’d have him on destruction of property.
Apparently, there had recently been a rash of property crimes in the area, and they thought this guy could possibly be the culprit. I held up my hand to Officer C for a high five.”Let’s do it. I don’t want that guy in my neighborhood.” Outside, the girl whose car had been broken into was talking to Officer W and we found out that the genius thief had stolen a lock box of school supplies and personal files.
We drove a few blocks over to a darkened street. Three or four police vehicles crowded the road and there on the grass stood the window-smasher. It was him. We drove past with the brights on, hidden by the tinted windows.
“How sure are you?”
“One hundred percent”.
We circled back to my house, and I grinned at the cops. “Good job, guys!” They said they couldn’t have done it without me. Officer C had one last request. He asked if I’d be willing to testify in court. My answer?
“Absolutely.” I don’t want that criminal back in my neighborhood. He most likely has a drug problem and needs help getting clean, anyway.
Officer C took my information and put it into his dashboard computer, expressing mock relief that I didn’t have any warrants: “That would have been awkward!”, and told me they’d be in touch.
I went back inside, too pumped to sleep, but got ready for bed anyway. I had helped get a criminal off the street! True, he hadn’t taken anything of value this time, but next time it could have been my car or someone’s house! I felt great about being able to help catch a crook!
Then I dropped my toothbrush in the toilet. God knows how to keep me humble.
Keeping the streets safe,