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?