This Space Reserved for Disabled Thugs

July 7. If able-bodied people obstruct a handicapped parking space, is it our civic duty to cripple them? Some Newport Beach folks apparently believe so. Parking his '91 Honda Accord across from a home on Manistee Drive on the night of July 6, a local man may or may not have infringed upon a handicapped space. However, the next morning, the jury found him guilty; a note bearing their decision was stuck to the windshield: "Please keep from blocking our handicapped driveway. Thank you." The sentencing, however, was Taliban-strict: the driver's car was ransacked; a window, rear-view mirror and blinker light assembly were smashed to pieces; and the ignition switch was removed. The radio was blaring, and the owner's fanny pack—containing license, credit cards, checkbook and sunglasses—was missing. Curiously, the vehicle sat four to six feet west of where it was originally parked, leading some to believe this might be a case of evidence tampering. Odd, since the LAPD doesn't patrol Newport Beach.

TACO BELLE, WITH A SIDE OF JOE LOUIS July 7. One minute, you're enjoying Mexican food and wondering about your missing bike, and the next, you're absorbing head shots from a toothless heavy, hoping for a quick bell. At 11:50 p.m., a Huntington Beach man was sitting and eating a taco near the rear of a business in the 2100 block of Harbor Boulevard in Costa Mesa. Suddenly, a woman he believes had stolen his bicycle approached him, accompanied by a welterweight-sized man with missing teeth who "goes by the name of Louis." The taco eater advised the woman to return his bike. She did not respond, but Louis turned, jabbed the taco out of the man's hand and began punching him "in the head area." After a decidedly uneven round, Louis and the woman fled to an unknown, presumably neutral, corner. After assessing the physical damage and clearing his head area, the victim called 911. The reporting officer "did not see any visible injuries to [the victim], but he complained that his head hurt." Nonetheless, the unpaid contender refused medical attention. A rematch has yet to be arranged.


July 16. An item at a recent school auction was a 5-foot, 200-pound yellow sign reading, "28 Children at Play." Not surprisingly, a Newport resident bid $450 for it. Also not surprisingly, he won. The rich are not like you and me: they're silly. Unless I had a family of 30, this is an impulse purchase that would haunt me forever. Nonetheless, the lucky spender escorted his trophy home and planted it in front of his residence. On July 15 at 11:30 p.m., he arrived home to find the sign mysteriously moved to Buffalo Hills Park down the street. Figuring retrieval too arduous a task for such a late night, the sign buyer lugged the sign to the nearby corner of Port Manleigh Place and abandoned it, intending to finish the transfer in the morning. However, some—perhaps as many as 28—"children at play" had other designs: vandals carted the sign back to the park, laid it on its back atop a bed of paper napkins, and set it on fire. The next morning, the victim arrived to find the charred remains smoldering in the grass. This story has a happy ending, though: if you have enough cash to blow almost half a grand on a useless sign, you're doing okay.

NAPSTER July 17. A 42-year-old man called Costa Mesa police and asked for a "tour of the found bikes" to see if his lost two-wheeler had been turned in. Since access to the found-bicycle room is restricted to those who have filed lost-bicycle reports, the caller immediately relayed the following fuzzy account. Sometime between March and June of last year, his bicycle was stolen. While moving items out of his father's house, the man secured his bicycle inside the exposed bed of his gold '69 Chevy pickup and parked it on Towne Street. Then he pulled "his other truck" up behind the Chevy and attempted to take a nap. Just as he was settling in, a stranger in his late 30s strolled by, staring intently at the bicycle perched in the truck bed. Three or four times, the man paced by, each time casing the bike. The bike's owner presumed (correctly) that the man wanted to steal it. However, since he also presumed (incorrectly) that it was safely locked, the victim didn't bother to interfere and drifted off to sleep. That's like waking up to find your apartment in flames, then hitting the snooze button because you have a sprinkler system. When he awoke 20 minutes later, he dashed to the rear of the Chevy and—sure enough—found the chain curled in the bottom of the truck bed and the bicycle gone. He had, in fact, forgotten to lock the bike. The victim canvassed the area but could find neither his bike nor the thief. More than a year—and many naps—later, he called the police. Let's hope the found-bikes room provides ample coffee.

NO-HASSLE CAR BUYING July 19. A Newport Beach man residing in the 1700 block of Westcliff Drive was on his front porch one morning when a white van pulled up with two men seated in front. They were staring intently at a neighbor's purple Mazda RX7 parked across the street when the driver of the van suddenly leaned out and asked the porch-dweller if he would sell them the car. No, the man explained, he couldn't sell it because the car was not his. He further explained that the car belonged to his neighbor, who was not home, and that the prospective buyer should leave a note on the windshield with an offer the owner couldn't refuse. The two men nodded and continued to check out the Mazda, one even exclaiming, "It's unlocked!" They lingered for at least five minutes, appraising the car, until the neighbor eventually left his porch and went inside. Sure enough, when the Mazda owner arrived home, he indeed found an offer he couldn't refuse: his car was stolen.

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