The stolen car in our neighbourhood

About three weeks ago, I decided to spend the evening out on the porch, smoking my pipe. It had been a hot day, but the weather cooled off as the sun set. Perfect evening to have a smoke and look out over the neighbourhood.

We live across the street from a park. The park is pretty much a big flat lawn with very few trees, used mainly for sports: the kids play organized soccer in it, adults play office-league softball. People take their dogs there for a romp, some folks fly kites, and one hobbyist brings his RC aircraft to fly. Just a big green space, really.

Across the park is the back of a small plaza, normally reached by car from the busy road it fronts. But many neighbourhood people, myself and my wife included, walk through the park to the plaza for such things as can be obtained from the businesses there: a couple of fast-food joints, a Starbuck’s, a bank, and a gas station with a convenience store, among a couple of others.

This particular evening, as I said, I was sitting on the porch, enjoying a smoke in my pipe. A pipe cannot be smoked quickly like a cigarette; rather, it is smoked slowly and gently, so the smoker can enjoy the flavour of the tobacco (it was MacBaren’s Navy Flake, which deserves to be smoked slowly and savoured). And indeed, it takes me anywhere from half an hour to an hour to smoke a pipeful. I went out when the sun was still up, but I knew I’d be out there until well after the sun set, and it was full dark. Or at least as dark as it gets in our neighbourhood, with the streetlights and the glare from the plaza across the park.

At one point during my smoke, a car pulled up across the street and parked beside the park. It wasn’t any special or fancy car; just a Honda Civic sedan, probably about three to five years (or so) old. It parked a little uneasily, riding up on the curb, but coming down and finally stopping. The passenger got out, weaving somewhat. Then, so did the driver. Obviousy, both had been drinking. They headed, somewhat uneasily, across the park in the direction of the plaza.

“Hm,” sez I to myself, “A couple of guys who’ve been drinking, and who want to go to the plaza to use the bank machine, or get a coffee or Big Mac, or buy some cigarettes at the gas station. But, also, who don’t want to drive into the plaza from the main road, since somebody would see they’d been drinking and would likely call the cops.” Note that if they had returned shortly in their drunken state and tried to drive away, I certainly would have let the police know about it. However, they obviously had enough sense to know that at this point, they shouldn’t be driving and it was time to stop for coffee or food or something. Fair enough.

But as I was finishing my pipe about a half-hour later, they hadn’t returned. Fine, maybe they knew they couldn’t (and shouldn’t) drive, and called a cab from the plaza. Safest course of action; I couldn’t fault it.

The next day, their car was still there. But they’d no doubt come to get it at some point. After they recovered from the hangover, probably.

But no. The car sat there all day. And the next day, and the next, and the next. I mentioned the car–and how it got there–to my wife. She said she’d wondered about it too. There are no real parking restrictions on our street, and it is not unusual for visitors to the houses in our neighbourhood to park on the street if they are visiting for a few (or more) days, so the car really wasn’t out of place. But still, even visitors’ cars come and go. This one just sat.

Then I was scheduled to be out of town for a week or so. I went, and when I returned–the car was still there.

A few days later, with the car still there, I had to leave town again. As we loaded our own car with the things I was taking, my wife and I looked at the parked car. “Maybe we should let the police know,” she said. “Maybe it’s stolen or something.”

So today, I’m still out of town. But a little while ago, I spoke with my wife on the phone. She had become curious, and had, somewhat apologetically, phoned the police about the car. Just, you know, to find out.

Turns out the car was indeed stolen! It had been reported stolen the day after I first saw it pull up across the street as I was smoking my pipe. According to my wife, the police came to look at the car, checked the VIN, dusted for what prints they could get, and finally, called a tow truck to tow it away. Thankfully, for my wife’s safety, the police did not make a big deal about interviewing her on the porch or anything. They got their information from my wife over the phone.

But there you go. A stolen car in our neighbourhood, and I kind of saw it happen. Has anybody else seen anything like that?

When I was on vacation in Lisbon, I broke off from my travel companion to have some time alone. I sat in one of those big plazas, just people watching and making up stories about the people I saw.

On the other side of the plaza, I saw a couple sit down. These benches were open on both sides (no back), and the man and woman sat next to each other, leaning over an open guide book together. The man had pulled the guidebook out of his backpack, then set the pack on the bench behind him. I thought to myself, I should get up and tell him that’s not safe, that someone could take the backpack.

Just then, a young man sat down on the bench near the couple, his back to them. I stood up, to walk over to the couple and interfere with their vacation, but as I did so, I saw the young man stand up as well, the couple’s backpack in his hand. By the time I understood what was happening, the young man had faded into the crowd.

My memory is sketchy on this, but I think it went something like this:

My brother and his (then) girlfriend saw a car speeding and swerving all over the place. The driver lost control and hit something on the side of the road. Brother pulled over to go see if he was ok, but as he got out of his own car, he realised the driver of the other car was wiping down the steering wheel. Brother jumped back in his own car and told his girlfriend to call the police on her mobile phone. Meanwhile, Mr Car Thief has realised that he is opposite the police station and decided this is a bad place to be. He jumped back in the stolen car and took off again. My brother followed, but as he was doing the speed limit and Mr Car Thief wasn’t, they quickly lost sight of him. By the time they got to the next town, the police had blocked the road and intercepted the stolen vehicle, and were taking the car thief away. They thanked my brother and his girlfriend for the call and told him the vehicle had been stolen earlier that day in Melbourne (100 miles away). I got a text message from my brother that simply said “I just caught a car thief”. I loved that! Kept it until my phone was accidently wiped.

A few years back my neighbors got an old Pontiac 6000LE, and parked in the alley behind our houses. It ran like shit, and all weekend they worked on it. It did not start to run better, it got worse and worse, and by Sunday night it did not run at all.
Monday I had the day off and was working in my back yard. I hear someone trying to start the Pontiac. I wander over to the fence and look through. I see two guys, and by looking through the passenger door, I see the ignition lock has been punched. They are using a screwdriver to try the ignition switch. At this point I am feeling mixed emotions. On one hand people that steal cars are scum. On the other I wanted that piece of shit out of the alley.
So I wander inside and call 911. They took a report and description. About 5 minutes later, I got a call back from the cops asking if they were still there. I checked and said yes.
Cops rolled up and arrested them.
Car was impounded, so my alley was once again clear. :smiley:

10 years ago, I was standing in front of my sliding glass door, looking out into the parking lot, and a teenage boy comes running by very fast. A car with more teenage boys pulls up, they get out and start beating him. The boy getting beaten was terrified and crying. Then they shove him into the car and take off.
I called the police, but I don’t know whatever happened with that. I do think about it sometimes, and I feel kind of bad for not interfering. I would if it happened now, even if I might get shot.

Last summer I spent a week in Prague with Mom and Lilbro. Gorgeous town, gorgeous country, gorgeous sleepy owl in Karlstejn. Loved the subway, got a pic of an Invader From Outer Space with a Nobel Prize holder, generally loved the place.

In one of our last days, we were having dinner in the terrace of a bar, in a small square close to what we had come to consider the center of town. We’d eaten there before. There was another Spanish family in another table, and a corner table between theirs and ours.

Four guys sat in that corner table; my brother remarked that it was the first moors we’d seen. Three of them were your typical thin, narrow-faced, curly-haired, dark-skinned moroccans or algerians; the fourth was considerably shorter, stockier and lighter-skinned, with just a fringe of hair (dark but not curly) and a round head.

After a while, they stood up and one of the girls in the next table yelped, “oi!” and grabbed her handbag, thinking it was slipping from the back of the chair… which it had been, but aided by one of those guys, who let the bag go real fast. They walked away before we could react; nothing was stolen.

We finished our meal and headed for the hotel. We saw them sitting in another terrace. My brother went back for I’m not still sure what; I told him that the cops had a trailer nearby and he should go there, but… listen to his sister? Yeeeeah, rite. Not when the hormones are up, no sir.

I saw them do the same succesfully with another woman’s handbag. Being an idiot (and apparently high on hormones too), I moved in a way that made sure they saw me - and saw I was seeing them. The guy who had the bag dropped it and they walked away; I followed for a bit and took out my cellphone, pointing it towards them like it had a camera (it didn’t).

I wanted to go to the cops and give them their descriptions, which probably wouldn’t have helped much but I still think would have been the right thing to do, got outvoted.

As Lilbro said “what sucks is, the short guy is probably a local thug, but the only moors we’ve seen in six days here were thieves. If I was their honest cousin I’d be bloody pissed!”