Run for the Border

May 13. A 31-year-old Ditech employee summoned police to his cubicle at 3200 Park Center Dr., Costa Mesa, to investigate the theft of $7,800 and a ticket for a Mexican cruise. The story began at noon four days earlier when the victim received an envelope from a friend containing $9,500 in cash. The victim told police he spent $1,700 of the money that day and placed the rest inside two business envelopes. The victim then placed both envelopes in his desk drawer next to a cruise ticket he had been given as an employee bonus. According to police reports, the victim "forgot to lock the drawer." At 5 p.m., the victim headed home, inadvertently leaving behind the perfect crime setup—a huge cash windfall complete with a tropical getaway. A few blocks from the company parking garage, the victim realized his mistake. So he called a trusted a coworker, who strolled over to the desk and peeked inside. No envelopes, no cruise. The following morning, the victim sent an offer of immunity around the office—if the thief were to return two-thirds of the money, he or she could keep the remaining third, no questions asked. The profit-sharing did not work: no one has come forward with the money.

IF THE SHOE FITS, STEAL IT May 15. An officer patrolling South Coast Plaza pulled his squad car over to question a man walking in the dark near the Sears Auto Center. The man appeared to be studying the parking lot, looking for something. Perhaps he needed some assistance? "Yes," the man replied. He introduced himself as Matt and explained he was an exchange student from England and had just discovered his jacket stolen. Matt had been eating dinner with a group of friends at the bar of a nearby restaurant while wearing his black varsity-style jacket. His first name was embroidered in large letters on the right shoulder. Toward the end of his repast, Matt arose to use the restroom and draped the jacket over the back of his chair. When he returned, the jacket was gone. Police are looking for a man named Matt, size 42.

UNCTUOUS May 16 & 17. After purchasing a blouse, a 38-year-old South County woman noticed her 1998 Toyota Sienna minivan was leaking large amounts of black fluid. She says she placed the change from the purchase—$50 in cash—in the ashtray of the vehicle and drove directly to the lube joint where the van had recently had its oil changed. She demanded an inspection of the van's undercarriage to locate the source of the leak. While the van was being examined, she went to the restroom for "no more than two minutes," she told police. When she returned, the employee told her they could not find an oil leak under her car. Infuriated, the woman drove her landlocked Exxon Valdez to a nearby gas station, hoping for a second opinion and a fresh tank of gas. While reaching in the ashtray for money, the victim found her $50 missing. Positive the cash had been stolen by a lube-and-tune employee, she returned to the alleged scene of the grime and showed the manager the barren ashtray. The manager apologized and confronted his workers about the missing $50. None of them admitted to stealing the money. Although he was terribly sorry, explained the manager, he would make a conciliatory offer worth more than $50. And what—after possibly causing an oil leak; proving himself unable to find said leak; and allegedly stealing her money—just what did the manager offer his hapless customer? Two more oil changes at no charge. Thank you, and come again.

CAT NIPPED? May 22. A 28-year-old Costa Mesa man spent the weekend in Las Vegas with his girlfriend, leaving his cat at home on East Bay Avenue. The victim returned Sunday to find the cat healthy and the house in order. However, when the victim went to grab laundry money from its usual spot—the cigar box in his bedroom—the box was empty. Presumably a frequent launderer, the victim claimed the cigar box contained change totaling $300. No other items in the home were tampered with or stolen. The victim told police he left the window open the entire weekend so the cat could come and go as it pleased. The cat looked too satisfied. Police have no human suspects.


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