The gang that couldn’t shoot straight

BY DARYL FISHER, News-Ledger Columnist


  Monday before last started out just like every other Monday morning. I got out of bed around 7:30, shaved and showered, made myself some breakfast, read quite a bit of the Sacramento Bee, and then started my leisurely walk over to the News-Ledger. It was an especially pretty morning, with temperatures destined to reach only into the 80s, and I remember thinking to myself that everyone should be so lucky to have his or her office within strolling distance on a gorgeous Monday morning.

  When I reached the News-Ledger at about 8:30, I took out my office key, inserted it into the door, and pushed it open like I have done a thousand times before. But when I stepped inside, nothing was like it had been a thousand times before. To begin with, all our computers and monitors were gone, and the first thought that ran through my head was, ‘how in the world are we going to get the News-Ledger out to our subscribers this week without our computers?’ Then, as I glanced around the room, I could see that papers and office supplies were scattered everywhere and that our window-mounted air conditioner had been knocked to the floor, leaving the front window slightly jarred open.

  “So, that’s how they got in?” I whispered to myself as the fact that the News-Ledger had been robbed finally sunk into my disbelieving head.

  On closer examination, much more than our computers had been stolen. Our microwave, radio and fan were also gone, and it was obvious that every drawer in our desks had been ransacked in a fevered search for any valuables the thieves could find. Our change drawer had been emptied of all our  quarters, dimes and nickels, and most alarming of all, our News-Ledger checkbook with dozens of company checks in it was nowhere to be found.

  As I continued to look around, it appeared that our phones had been stolen, too, so I went next door to Armando Omega’s chiropractor’s office and he kindly let me put a call into Steve Marschke, the editor of the News-Ledger. I was only able to get his answering machine and left him a quick message about what had happened and suggested that he stop by our bank on his way into the office to make sure the thieves couldn’t write themselves any checks on our account. When I gave Armando back his phone, he said he would go ahead and call the West Sacramento police and he also kindly said to let him know if there was anything else he could do to help.

  When the police arrived, Community Service Officer Prasad did a thorough investigation of what was now a crime scene, including dusting for fingerprints on a Diet Coke bottle left behind by one of the thieves, making me think that robbing people must make a person work up quite a thirst. He also took down a detailed list of everything that was missing and assured me that his fellow officers would try their best to find our much-needed computers.

  When Steve arrived at the office, he had already been to US Bank and made sure that the News-Ledger bank account was secure. But as Steve and I were just starting to get over the shock of having been robbed and trying to figure out how we were going to deal with all the problems it had created, the real fun and games began.

  We had been able to locate one of our phones, which had been tossed under my desk, and when it rang, it was the bank calling to alert us that two people, a black male and a white female, were trying to cash one of our checks. Like a shot, Steve raced out the door, jumped into his truck, and headed for the bank. I later learned that when he got there, both of the suspects were still in the bank, with the man nervously waiting to get his ID back, since the bad check had been written to him and the bank personnel were trying to keep him there until the police they had called arrived. He was also complaining loudly about the lousy service the bank was giving him.

    Both the man and the woman had apparently arrived at the bank on bicycles, and when the woman got suspicious that the bank had no intention of cashing the stolen check, she took off on hers, although Steve got a good look at her, which would come in very handy only a short time later. Anyway, when the police arrived at the bank, they arrested the man who had been trying to cash a forged $200 News-Ledger check and also found a bunch of stolen News-Ledger items in his bike basket.

  Less than an hour later, with Steve back at the News-Ledger and at least one of the thieves in police custody, we were beginning the cleanup of the office when Steve suddenly looked out the front window and saw someone he was pretty sure was the female suspect in the robbery, riding around on her bicycle.

  “You’re kidding?” I said, thinking that no thief comes back to the scene of the crime that quickly.

  “I’m sure it’s her,” Steve insisted with emphasis.

  “Then let’s go get her!” I suggested, thinking back to that old Andy Griffith TV episode where Gomer had ran after Barney (who had made an illegal U-turn on Mayberry’s Main Street) yelling `citizen’s arrest, citizen’s arrest!’

  “I tell you what,” said Steve as we watched the female suspect turn her bike onto West Capitol Avenue and disappear from sight, “you chase after her in your truck, and I’ll try to track her down on foot as soon as I’ve called the police.”

  That sounded like a pretty good idea to me, especially since it was now my turn to race out the door and jump into my truck, only to quickly discover that the woman on the bike had somehow vanished into thin air. When I caught back up with Steve again, we both agreed that she could have only ducked into one place, the nearby West Capitol Avenue hotel right behind the News-Ledger office.

  So, with Steve standing guard at the hotel entrance, I got back into my truck and headed back down West Capitol Avenue just in case the lady on the bike had somehow managed to get further than we thought. And within minutes, I was side-by-side with a police car responding to Steve’s call, so I began yelling and waving at him to follow me, hoping that he didn’t notice that in all the excitement, I had forgotten to put on my seatbelt. Anyway, when we arrived at the hotel entrance, Steve pointed out to the police officer the bike he thought the woman had been riding, and within minutes, backup police officers had arrived and she was in custody. And in searching the room where she lived, the police also found all the missing News-Ledger checks.

  So, with both the robbery suspects safely in custody, and with the hope that we might even get our computers back in the not too distant future, one of the police officers walked over to me with a smile and asked, “So, tell me, just how were you and your buddy able to figure this all out and locate that female suspect?”

  “Well,” I said proudly, “the best-read part of the News-Ledger has always been the Police Log, so Steve and I take this police stuff pretty serious.”

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Copyright News-Ledger 2012

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