Here's the synopsis of me catching the copper thieves. Yeah, I wrote all this out, but it'll make for a good story and I can email this account to the police detective tomorrow. So two birds, one stone. I'm tired of people letting their dogs poop in our tiny front yard; there's not much grass there, and we're less than 50 yards from a huge park. And if your dog does have to go, just bag it. A couple of weeks ago I was walking into the house and managed to step in dog feces. I was incredibly angry. Since then I've used our tall front windows (which provide a great street view) to watch dog walkers. Almost all of them carry a bag with them.
That's why I noticed the lady out front this evening. In broad daylight she let her rat dog go all over our yard. At first, I thought I was over-zealous, but it was exactly what she was doing. I was putting my shoes to go yell at her and I noticed she got into the back seat of a beat-up station wagon parked in front of our house. This is bizarre because 1) with a park just feet away, no one drives their dog to poop on a yard (not even my greatest enemies) and 2) since the fire, there are only two cars parked out on the street: mine and my neighbors. And I've lived here long enough that I recognize many of the people who walk by our house. I didn't recognize this lady and she looked shifty and then I realized what was going on:
She was watching out for copper thieves at our neighbor's house.
Since the fire, we've likely had six or seven break-ins. I have the cops on speed dial. I didn't know how I was going to play it, but I decided to walk over to the burned out units to check it out. When I walked down the front stairs, the lady with the dog stared at me, and I said, "hello." I took an immediate turn up the stairs, near where the fire started, and there's a large plywood barrier that acts like a door.
I could hear people mulling around on the other side of the wall. My suspicion was confirmed.
I was angry, but not entirely stupid. That woman was their lookout, so I had to play it smart.
Still, I decided it would be sporting of me to give them a warning. The sanitized version of what I yelled was,
"Alright [boys], here's your head start. I'm calling the police."
Unfortunately, I left my phone inside, so I had to run back to my place to get it. I ran down the stairs, up the street, passing the lady with the dog. As she looked at me, I yelled at her: "better hop in the car, here they come." Once inside, I grabbed my phone and told Kelly to go get me a weapon.
Just so you know, we don't have guns in our house, but I do keep a stash of self-defense items around. I wasn't really worried at them coming to get me, because the decking out front is a very strategic position, but you can't be too safe. I called 9-1-1 as I ran back out there.
As the operator picked up, I told them I caught a robbery in process. She asked me to describe them and the automobile and, just as I did, these two yokels hop in their car. I peered toward them, describing their appearance as I scanned them.
And that's when I noticed their t-shirts: they were wearing construction t-shirts of the company who did the fire demolition.
Likely, nearly all the robberies we've had were these guys who knew exactly who they were.
At this point, I was really angry and started loudly describing them to the 9-1-1 operator, so those guys knew I got a good look at them. They started the car, and sped away . . . but their car died in the road.
No joke: it limply rolled back down the street.
I'm still describing them to the operator while staring at them and half walking toward them when one of the guys hops out of the car. He was a bit larger than I was, so I took some steps back up the stairs. By this time, Kelly was by our door with a weapon, but I told her I thought we were good. Hilariously, the guy tried to fix his car then and there. He tried over and over again, but it didn't work. So they got out of the car and started walking down the street.
Even the lady picked up her rat dog and started to jog.
So I started to jog after them.
I described this to the operator and she began to freak out. I guess with the negativity surrounding all the vigilantism justice now, she insisted I stopped. I got a good look at them as they walked up the street and a guy around the corner locked eyes with me.
"They're copper thieves!" I yelled. And he responded, "they probably broke into my car last week too!" He started to follow them but I told them that the police were on their way.
Sure enough, police showed up right then and I told them where to go. CPD's finest apprehended them in just a couple of minutes. I mean, how far can you get with a lady holding a dog, anyway?
Talking to a bike officer who made his way to the scene, I started to inspect what they did. We have lock-boxes on all the burned out units because of all the construction that happened in the weeks after the fire. Of course, as employees of the demo company, they had the codes so they wouldn't have to forcibly enter. In the back of their car was a huge box of electrical wire, which they could scrap. And when I went into the burned out units (where I had to last week because someone broke in), there was a trash can full of wire with wire cutters and saws.
They told the police that they were just in there working. Of course, their company hasn't been working on this site for almost two months, so that doesn't pan out. And my neighbor said that he saw them in the car (with the dog) hanging out in the parking lot on Sunday night.
It doesn't look to good for the bad guys.
Because they had access to the lock-boxes, the police were apprehensive to arrest them tonight because of legal protocol. I told them that I didn't care as long as they weren't allowed anywhere near this place again. As I'm typing this, I can peek on the street and someone is jumping their car, which is still broken down on the side of the road. When they're gone, I'm going to go take all the keys out of the lock boxes to make sure nothing happens tonight. I guess even more fun is to come as we set about holding them responsible for their crime.
I've been mental about this whole issue. I feel almost called to protect my neighbors homes, so I'm uber-paranoid now. I'm just glad that my suspicion was spot on.
And, if I were you, I wouldn't let your dog poop in my front yard.