Incident On My Street Just Before Dawn
Monday. Dec 3rd, 2012. 4:30am. I had just put Silas down after his 4am bottle when I heard the rear door of our minivan beeping. Meaning that it was going down. Meaning that someone was closing it??? WTF! Looking out the window I saw the silhouette of a guy on a bike with a back pack. He was rolling out of our driveway.
Strangely my first thought wasn’t that I was dealing with a thief. My first thought was that I might be dealing with the weird guy in our neighborhood who is always always riding a bike. Ever seen him? He’s late 40s, rides a mountain bike, wears a baseball cap instead of a helmet and is always carrying a backpack full of… I dunno, bricks? Dude looks very survivalist/Y2Kist/paramilitaryist. That flash of a silhouette made me think it was THAT dude snooping through my car. I also assumed he would be long gone before I could get outside.
I threw on a T-shirt and ran out front. It was unseasonabely warm that night and we were sleeping with our windows open. I started to jog down the street in my bare feet, thinking dude would be at least 100 yards ahead of me. Then I saw a bike in my neighbors yard. And someone lurking by their car. I stopped.
“What the fuck do you think you are doing?” I called out.
A 20 something, white dude in a baseball cap emerged from the shadows. “I’m looking for a friend,” he said.
“No, you’re not,” I said, “What did you just take from my car?”
“Man, I’m… I’m having a really bad week. I’m making some bad decisions.” He was already pleading with me. I don’t really remember what I said next. I was mad. But this kid was really pathetic. He said that he hadn’t stolen anything from me. I told him to show me what was in his backpack. He opened it up and produced a windshield squeegee and some rope. “I promise I didn’t steal nothing from you.”
At this point Katherine called out from the window, “I’m calling the police!” And for a split second I thought, “Good!” but then I shouted back to her, “Don’t call the police.”
My gut told me to let the kid go. I remember saying to him, “I don’t want to see you on this street ever again.” Katherine says she heard me say, “There are good people who live on this street.” I can’t remember exactly how I wound things up with him. It was 4:30 am. But I let him go.
And of course replayed the scenario hundreds of times later that day in my mind. Had I done the right thing? Should I have gotten the police involved? I like to think that letting him go was the best solution in this scenario. The kid was scared and obviously a nervous amateur. Right? What seasoned car thief closes the car door? I’ve had my car rummaged through several times before and the creeps who did it have always left the doors open afterwards. Why risk alerting anyone by closing the door? Much less a beeping rear door? It surprises me that this dude didn’t take off after setting off our door alarm. Obvious amateur.
The other thought that occurred to me after the fact was how lucky I was this whole incident didn’t go south. What if dude had freaked out on me? What if instead of a squeegee he pulled a pipe or knife out of his backpack? Shudder. I am very lucky this didn’t go another way.