There are a million crime stories in the big, or actually midsize, city. Here are two minor but entertaining ones.
First, the Dine-n-Dash Sprint.
Two brothers were eating lunch at the Satellite Diner downtown this week when they ran up a $45 bill. They handed over a credit card, which came back “Declined. Declined. Declined.” The brothers insisted they had money on their card – after all, they had just received their SSI check! – so they said, hold on a minute, we’ll call the credit card company and get this straightened out.
At which point, brother No. 1 fled out one door and brother No. 2 fled out another.
So our heroine, a manager who happens to be a friend of mine, raced off in pursuit.
“It makes me mad,” she said. “This sort of thing happens about three times a week.”
She spotted them a block away – but then lost them briefly while she had to stand fuming on a corner, waiting for traffic. When the light turned to “Walk,” she accelerated out of the blocks.
“I was a sprinter in high school, so they don’t usually outrun me,” she said.
She caught up with ’em right as they approached the STA Plaza.
“I had to leap over some of those little stools they have there,” she said.
She grabbed one of them, pushed him down on the ground, and said, “Hey, didn’t you forget something?”
I should mention that our young heroine weighs 120 pounds and has a sideline as a children’s book author named “Auntie.” And Auntie had the guy down on the tiles.
“It wasn’t so hard, because he was already kind of leaning over,” she said. “And he wasn’t that big.”
The cook and dishwasher, who arrived on the heels of our heroine, kept the guy pinned to the ground until security showed up and police were called. In the end, the two brothers managed to scrounge up $35 in cash. Our heroine decided to call it good and let the guys go.
“But I think people should know that police will be called, and if they don’t pay, they’ll get taken off to jail,” said Auntie, who asked that her real name not be used because the brothers were wearing what might have been gang patches.
She added this final observation:
“If they hadn’t been wearing their pants down around their ankles, they might have gotten away.”
Our second story is the Case of the Shoplifted Biography.
An elderly woman entered a local bookstore. The woman was tooling around in one of those motorized scooters used by many of our less-than-ambulatory senior citizens. She couldn’t reach up to the higher shelves, so she asked a bookseller to fetch down a regional biography.
With this $27.95 book in her lap, this sweet little old lady motored back to the children’s section to do a little more browsing.
Then, without warning, this lady came vrooming past the counter in a blur and out the door, yelling a string of salty personal insults at the astonished bookseller.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is known as misdirection. It took the flabbergasted employee a few seconds to recover from the verbal assault and realize, “Hey, she never paid for that book.”
The employee ran out into the mall and tracked down the scooter-lady at a neighboring shop. She confronted her and the indignant women replied that she had, indeed, placed the book back on the shelf. So the clerk, wanting to believe her, walked back to the store. The bookseller then realized, with a sinking feeling, that the woman couldn’t possibly have put the book back on a shelf she couldn’t reach.
Meanwhile, the scooter lady had disappeared, along with the book. But the bookseller knows who she is and she’s on their watch list if she ever comes back to the mall.
The bookseller told me about this minor criminal offense thinking that I might be somewhat flattered. I was the author of that shoplifted book.
Maybe. I’d rather have written a book that customers were willing to pay for.