Revenge of the Nerds

July 1. A clerk at the Mesa Verde Library in Costa Mesa arrived at 8 a.m. to find the parking lot a virtual Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Munchies. The ground was littered with empty beer cans, cigarette butts, exploded fireworks and discarded "snack cracker" boxes. A book-storage shed on the east side of the building was damaged, and 20 boxes of books—600 titles total—were missing. Several other books lay scattered in the dirt on the shed's north side. Curiously, one tome—title unknown —had been burned. Several suspect the apprentice Savonarolas are teenagers—a neighbor alleged hearing "four to five male and female teens screeching their car tires in the lot, igniting fireworks and using profanity." Could be, but if you check out the Orange County Fair, you'll find most adults engaged in the same behavior. Three similarly rowdy book-stealin'-and-burnin' parties reportedly have occurred in the past month, each behind the library. I know what you're thinking: Behind the library? What the fuck is wrong with these kids? When we were teens and out till the wee hours drinkin', smokin' and chewin', you could bet your bottom old-economy dollar we were either under the train bridge with a spray can or behind the 7-Eleven with a bong. And if we were stealing anything, it certainly wasn't some musty copy of The Catcher in the Rye.

The Mediocre Samaritan July 2. An Orange Coast collegian parked his kingly '82 Buick Regal toward the east side of the Costa Mesa campus' student health center parking lot and left. An hour later, the man returned to find his Buick not looking so regal: the door was unlocked, and the ignition casing had been removed, exposing the car's wiring. Ignition parts lay on the floor, and 15 CDs were missing. While speaking with the investigating police officer, the student was approached by a stranger claiming he had witnessed a "30- to 40-year-old" man attempt to start the Buick about 45 minutes before. The witness told the victim that he asked the frustrated suspect if he was "having problems." The potential thief replied, "Yes" and said he was going to call a tow truck. Imagine that mayday transmission: "Hello, AAA? I need a tow truck, a hotwiring kit, some fake license plates and maybe a stocking cap—ASAP." In the middle of relating this encounter, the witness abruptly explained he "had to go" and walked away, leaving the victim and officer with no further information. The case remains unsolved.

Caucasian Spoken Here July 9. A 29-year-old Newport Beach woman leaving the dining area of Mama Gina's restaurant could not locate her cell phone. She immediately rushed to a nearby phone and called the vagabond device. According to the crime report, her call was answered by a "Hispanic-speaking male." Since she was not fluent in "Hispanic," the victim was unable to obtain further information on the whereabouts of her cell phone. Subsequent calls went unanswered. Investigators are rumored to be en route to African-America.

Roommate Wanted: Must Be Clean, Non-Smoker, Pack Own Heat July 11. A 33-year-old Newport Beach fella called police because one of two guns he keeps under the bed (under the bed? That's where the monsters live. No need to arm them) was missing. The man last eyeballed his arsenal on June 1, so the crime occurred sometime in the interim. The victim told police he had so many different roommates and guests in the past six weeks that he has no idea who among them is now enjoying his loaded .45-caliber pistol. On the heels of the NRA's proposed theme restaurant in New York's Times' Square, we suspect the local victim was simply test-marketing one of the gun lobby's upcoming West Coast bed-and-breakfasts.

Good News July 13. Dragging the bottom of the county's police files doesn't usually dredge up heartwarming, anonymous-hero-type tales. Most nights our faith in humanity is agnostic at best. But sometimes a story smiles above the dreary stolen-car-radio fare. A 30-year-old Costa Mesa P.E. teacher parked her white '97 Ford Expedition at 32nd and Seashore Drive, eager to carve Newport Beach's morning surf. She exited her SUV and plunged into the drink, leaving a longboard hanging out the open rear door of her vehicle. Two hours later, she returned to find the longboard intact but her diamond ring missing. A $3,000 gold band featuring diamonds arranged in a flower-petal design had been hidden inside an empty film canister within the vehicle's center console. The despondent surfer scoured the area, but no ring appeared. After two days, she reported the stolen ring. Three hours after her call, a 27-year-old Woodland Hills woman found the ring on the ground where the victim had originally parked and turned it in to the Newport Beach Police Department. Ring and victim were soon reunited. And to all a good night.

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