Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Great Cactus Heist of 2006

Elle works incredibly hard to make her business successful. There are a lot of things to consider that might not be immediately obvious to some people (among them, often me) that can directly impact her business. She's always concerned about the outside appearance of her shop, and that seems like one of those perfectly obvious things -- if the outside of your place looks like a dump, not many people will bother walking inside. So together, we've put a significant amount of time into beautifying the landscaping, though granted there really isn't much area which to landscape. Most of our efforts are focused on the corner of the lot. Bear in mind that the lot is 99% non-permeable cover ...

To some, it may not look like much. But compared to what was there before, it's a marked improvement, and she's received numerous compliments from customers and neighbors.

For several months now, the shop has been the target of miscellaneous vandalisms: spray painted store front windows, stolen light bulbs ?!?! (seriously), tipped over planters, and stolen landscaping. Each incident, having been perfectly executed by some criminal mastermind possessed of matchless ingenuity, left Elle more and more stressed and frustrated, and feeling powerless to stop the remorseless onslaught of our city's criminal underworld. Sunday, April 9th, the shop, closed for the night, was once again the target of a super-powered crimelord, bent on quick profit and easy entertainment.

However, on this fateful night, Steve, living across the alley next to the shop and forevermore known to me as Eagle-eye Steve, witnesses the criminal's masterful operation commence. As sharp of mind as of eye, Steve phones Elle, inquiring as to whether she had contracted someone to tend to her landscaping. Steve, who has previous to contacting Elle sleuthfully gathered a thorough description of the get-away vehicle, including license plate, and further, etched the face of the daring felon into the stone-like grey-matter tablet that is his mind, vocally informs the master thief that the gig is up! That his vehicle had been identified! And that he had best relinquish his illicit gains, and make haste, as the city police department had been summoned! The felon, nonplussed, or perhaps flumoxed (or the more likely in my opinion, simply stupid), at being detected, proceeds to finish loading the goods into his vehicle and then drives away, not however without Steve's piercing gaze noting in which direction he initially travels in and the fact that he minutes later doubles back.

Well, this poor bastard, deservingly, must now bear the entire weight of Elle's wrath which, deprived of a target until now, has had ample opportunity to grow into something of Lovecraftian proportions. The cops show up. We file the report, along with all the information Steve gathered (license plate, description, etc). And while the officer is initially un-excited about a case involving the theft of a couple hundred dollars worth of cactus, the look in Elle's eyes quickly convinces him that she has every intention of nailing this moron's butt to the wall. The officer tracks the license plate, but the address listed is a P.O. Box. Coincidentally, the officer's sister, who happens to live in the neighborhood, has also quite recently suffered from "plant theft". Perhaps because of this, or perhaps because of the memory of seeing bloody, violent murder in Elle's eyes, later that night he manages to track down the home address of our unlucky thief and pays him a visit. The officer recounts to us that the suspect's truck bed had a large quantity of fresh soil, but that when confronted with the option of returning the stolen cacti (no longer present in his vehicle) or having the owner press charges, the dumb bastard played, well ... dumb. The officer encouraged Elle to press charges. That same night, Elle unable to sleep, convinces me that since the moron thief didn't have the cactus on him, he must have dumped them before he got home. Using Steve's recollection of the suspect's flight from the scene, we try to retrace his steps. Not more than 5 blocks from the shop we come upon a house construction site, and as it coincides with a dead-end, we 3-point turn to head back ... but as we do, our car's headlights illuminate the unfinished garage. Deep inside the garage, we spot the missing and priceless cacti.

So Elle's got her cacti back. Hopefully most of it will survive the replanting. A couple of days later, Steve made a positive visual identifaction of the suspect from a series of mugshots (apparently, our thief for the night was neither masterful nor inexperienced with that side of the criminal justice system).

The one thing that still bothers Elle, the dumb thief: a fellow small business owner located only a few blocks away.


Blogger Stacey said...

That's a terribly sad story. To know that a "neighbor" would do something like that to you. I'm so sorry it happened and I'm glad she got her plants back.

12:36 AM  

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