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Crime Dog McGruff, the Early Years

Sept. 1. A 23-year-old Costa Mesa dog owner discovered his wallet and two cell phones (Two cell phones? Relax, dude!) missing from his 1989 Volvo. With no suspects and only his Labrador/German shepherd mix Rudy on hand, the victim endeavored to sniff out the thief. Rudy picked up a scent around the car and trailed it to a Costa Mesa 7-Eleven. From there, the dog tracked the curious odor to a group of male subjects in their late teens hanging out nearby. Rudy zeroed in on one teen in particular and really gave him a good nose-probing. Seeing a possible break in the case, the victim asked the besniffed suspect where he lived. The teen gave a vague answer and then disappeared into the night. The victim summoned police, but they were unable to apprehend the suspect. Despite this failure, rumor has it that Rudy has put in for a promotion to sergeant.

TEMPUS FUGIT Sept. 2. A 51-year-old Irvine resident retrieved a pair of watches from the Traditional Jewelers repair shop in Newport Beach and then took in a movie at a nearby Edwards Cinema. Not your average Timex, these bejeweled men's chronographs were like high-tech stock IPOs for the wrist. One timepiece, a DeLaneau, featured a diamond-and-sapphire-encrusted platinum dial. Estimated value: $20,000. The other, a Kairos with a platinum dial and leather band, is worth an estimated $10,000. So while viewing the film, where did the owner of these wearable windfalls place them for safekeeping? The same spot you throw your Gummi Bears and spill your Coke: underneath his seat. When the movie ended, the man departed, forgetting to retrieve his ticking IRA. When he returned to the theater moments later, alas, the watches were already gone. Police have no suspects.

DEFEND THIS? WHY? Sept. 3. More proof that we shouldn't spend billions defending this republic from missile attack: a wheelchair was stolen from a disabled 58-year-old Costa Mesa woman. She was sitting inside 825 Center St. when it was beyoinked from the front sidewalk.

GIVE A MAN A FISH, HE EATS FOR A DAY. TEACH A MAN TO PICK LOCKS, HE STEALS YOUR TOOLS Sept. 10. If America were a utopia, there would be no crime. With crime obsolete, there would also be no need for locksmiths. Hmmm. Perhaps we have the argument backward: maybe if there were no locksmiths, there would be no crimes. Sculptors of tiny brass visas, locksmiths can ostensibly create their own universal key to the city, no mayor or marching band needed. Yet when a break-in occurs, nobody suspects the locksmith. How come?

Case in point: at 3:30 in the morning, a sleeping Costa Mesa locksmith heard tinkering noises emanating from his home tool shed. After five minutes, the sounds did not abate, so he lumbered out of bed to investigate. While peering out the front door, he observed the shed door swing open and a male intruder dash out. The locksmith grabbed the fleeing suspect by his shirt, restraining him. The suspect whirled around to break free, in the process revealing his identity: a former apprentice at the victim's lock and key-smithing business. The offender had trained under the locksmith for five years until he was recently fired; now he was caught, of all things, picking his master locksmith's locks. It was like young Luke turning his lightsaber on old Obi-Wan. Incredulous, the locksmith recognized his former protege, now a denizen of the dark side. "Dude, man, I'm sorry, I'm homeless right now!" the suspect explained. But before the locksmith could respond, the man broke free, ran down the driveway, and bolted toward freedom (southbound on Iowa Street). I ask again: What's to keep our locksmiths from running amok?


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