After a long holiday weekend with friends and family, and after dealing with construction management hell, and after successfully avoiding retail establishments on Black Friday -- and after the Hogs gave that little squeaker to the Tiggers -- Pepper and I made it back to New Orleans yesterday afternoon in plenty of time to unpack and thaw something from the freezer before the Saints/Giants kickoff. And, what a lovely victory that was, but I digress.
So, this morning I walked Pepper out to the truck in the cold air, carrying his coffee mug, when he asked, "Why is this open?" pointing to the hasp that keeps our back gate secure. I replied, "And where is the [dog leash] clip?" that we use to keep it locked.
I knew that I double-checked the gate before we left for Little Rock because I went out back to do just that after I had double-checked one of the back doors and found it unlocked.
Pepper stepped out onto the sidewalk and spied the clip in the flowerbed.
He said, "Can you tell if anything's missing?" And I replied, "You mean like the lawn mower?"
And we just stared, for several moments, at the suddenly very empty spot where the mower used to sit. Then we fanned out to try to discern whether anything else was missing. Generator? Present. Porsche? Present, locked, and intact. Chainsaw? Present and accounted for. It seems that just the lawn mower went on walkabout. Or rollabout.
So, Pepper shook his head, climbed into the truck, and headed downtown.
Before our neighborhood was able to call itself officially a Neighborhood Watch area, worthy of displaying the signs, a certain number of residents had to undergo a series of weekly trainings about observation, crime-fighting resources, etc. One little tidbit I found particularly valuable was the training Officer's explanation of the Non-emergency Police number. His admonition to use that number when merely reporting something suspicious or minor, so that we wouldn't tie up the emergency 911 operators, struck me as important enough that I programmed the number into my cell phone (along with the FBI's and the DEA's!) right then and there.
Today, I'm not so sure why they bother to maintain separate numbers.
The same people answer the non-emergency number as the emergency 911 number.
Now I understand why one reads about people getting busy signals, or being put on hold, when calling 911. Even so, the nice Non-Emergency-911 lady said she could take my call and send over some uniformed officers.
Of course, when I asked one of the officers (who responded within 15 minutes, by the way!) why that was the case and explained that I didn't want to tie up the line in case someone had a real emergency, he told me that you wouldn't believe why some people call 911. One of his favorites was the mother who wanted the police summoned to tell her teenage daughter that she couldn't go out dressed "like that." Sheesh.
Anyway, the officers asked me a bunch of questions and talked to one another in code about how they would classify this incident since our garage is open-air on the sides and wouldn't totally support a classification of breaking and entering or burglary. P.S., Crime statistics are very important in Orleans Parish. I told them I'd be happy to settle for a little Criminal Trespass and Theft of Property valued at less than $500.00, because I doubted whether we'd ever see the mower again.
I remarked that whoever did it had to know enough about us to figure out that we were leaving town -- Bouie went with us to Little Rock; his big voice has chased many a miscreant away from the yard. -- and how to reach over the gate to unlatch the clip. He said his best guess was that it was done by some crackhead who regularly strolled the neighborhood looking for jobs cutting grass to support his habit and eat. I'd say that's probably pretty close to hitting it right on the nose. And pretty creepy.
So, after the officers did much talking on the radio (while in possession of my drivers license. ???) and filling out paperwork and consulting with other cops, I now have in my possession an official "NOPD Form 26" telling me that I may acquire an official Police Report in 14 -21 "working days," for a fee.
So, if it's not bad enough that you've been robbed already, the City sticks it to you again if you want to file an insurance claim which, in this case, would just be a worthless effort.
By the way, it must have been a slow crime day in the Crescent City -- they sent 2 squad cars and 4 policemen to investigate a stolen lawn mower.
And that picture at the top? That shiny new padlock is today's MVP -- Most Valuable Purchase! In the sack is a length of chain for the front gate (and another padlock) since it's now cold enough to shrink the metal to where the tongue in the lock won't stay engaged. If the worthless, self-entitled miscreants want to get in again, they're going to have to work for it.