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Clark: Who cares about property theft when tickets need writing?

The Spokane Police Department has given cash-strapped citizens a way to get through these tough economic times …

By turning to burglary.

This shocking revelation came the other day when an SPD spokesmouth announced that her department was eliminating its property crimes unit.

“We don’t want people to have that false impression that just because you make a police report a detective is going to look at it,” said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe.

Thievery, in the scheme of SPD priorities, is now on a par with jaywalking and sidewalk spitting.

Which makes this the best time ever to supplement your depleted retirement fund through random acts of larceny.

Frankly, I never thought I’d see the day when a police department, even one like ours, would take a pass on property crimes. After all, we taxpayers tend to get in a royal snit when our stuff goes missing.

Plus tracking down stolen goods and catching the pilfering perpetrators used to carry a certain romance. Made you think of posses trailing after horse thieves and baddies like the James Gang.

But that was then.

The SPD is now a modern police force, meaning it is still very much committed to law enforcement as long as it raises revenue for the city.

Let’s do the math.

Say somebody steals your Toyota. A detective can spend a solid week investigating the crime and wind up with bupkis.

Meanwhile, during the same time period, a hyperactive traffic cop can ticket scads of drivers for not signaling, not wearing seat belts, not observing the speed limit, cellphone yakking, or making illegal turns across the double-yellow lines on 29th Avenue even though everybody’s doing it.

This pumps thousands of dollars into the giant greedy leech that is Spokane government.

So as you can see, giving a rip about the plight of poor property owners simply doesn’t pencil out.

It takes a lot of dough to keep the heat on and the lights burning in those great view-of-the-falls councilmember offices up on the seventh floor of City Hall.

And that’s just one small part of our vast and inefficient bureaucracy.

Now as tempting as it may sound, I don’t want any of you reading this to rush out and start swiping cars or snatching power tools from unattended garages.

That’s a sure way to get your ankle chomped by a cantankerous watchdog.

Contrary to popular belief, becoming a successful porch prowler is not so easy. It takes practice and planning and a meth addiction to keep you awake and motivated.

So listen up while I give you a few burglary basics.

First off you’ll need a dark set of clothes and some shoes that don’t squeak.

Always carry a ski mask in your pocket. That way you can hide your identity when you rip off friends and relatives.

Don’t worry about gloves. Now that the property crimes unit is history, nobody’s going to dust for prints.

Oh, and always have a map of the city. You don’t want to stray into another jurisdiction where the cops still care about property crimes and will bust your ass.

I know. It sounds like a lot of effort. But, hey, if you’re a lazy thief you can always run for office.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by email at

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