That's how I approach it, anyway.
So I promised details about a situation I was faced with... and you're about to get PLENTY of em!
Imagine it's dusk and it's the winter. It's somewhat cold and there has just been a dusting of snow. All the street lights are on and after a long day at work dealing with a bunch of babies, I head to school to pick The Chicklet up. She's miserable and crabby and she feels warm to the touch. I just KNOW she has a fever and I want to get her home and feed her some chicken noodle soup (Campbell's... yup).
I pull into the driveway and get this sense that something's not right (apart from the usual "you ain't right" kind of thing that people tell me all the time).
I notice that the gate to the backyard is open and I distinctly remember I had left a light on in the shed and I left it that way because by the time I realized the light was on it was late, we'd had a big dump of snow and NO WAY was I trudging back there through snow up to the middle of my thighs just to shut the darn thing off.
I tell Chicklet to stand next to the car as I decide this needs to be investigated further. So I move towards the gate and stop dead in my tracks. I can feel the vein on my temple pulsate and I'm pretty certain I'm going to contribute to global warming just from the steam I'm certain is now pouring out of my ears.
I turn around and direct my daughter to the front porch, open the front door and ask her to stay inside, go lie down on the couch and "mommy will be right in".
I head back to the gate and march down the newly shoveled path (who the hell shoveled this path?) that leads to the shed at the back of the yard. I open the door and flip the switch to turn the light on. It doesn't ... what?
So I reach out and having a pretty good idea where the lightbulb should be, I feel the back of my hand touch the cold globe. I grasp it and feel it's loose in the socket. As I screw it back in, the light comes on and...
The snowblower, dad's snowblower, it's GONE!
Burgled! We've been BURGLED!
Now, let me say this: the snowblower is old. I have a snow removal contract. And the snowblower doesn't work as it needs a tune-up...
Now I'm insulted (trust me, not a good thing)! It's the principle of the thing.
I head towards the driveway after closing the light and the shed door.
I now know why a path was shoveled (with MY shovel no less!) to the shed and I'm spitting mad.
As I'm about to go back into the house my investigator instincts take over - it's one of the things I do for a living and I'm pretty good at it from having a lot of practice and training quite a few people in how to investigate incidents.
The stinking little thief picked the wrong damn house to violate.
You see.. something caught my eye and I felt myself grin like The Grinch after he's grabbed up the last can of Who-hash.
You guessed it... footprints!
But more importantly...
WHEELPRINTS! MY Snowblower's wheelprints complete with chain pattern.
Now I know how Callie Duquesne feels when she gets a break in a case!
I follow the trail down the drive to the street and figure out where it's headed.
AHA! Little bugger is in for a surprise!
I'm concerned my previous near meltdown could cause my evidence to fade and time is ticking away... there are more and more cars in the neighborhood as people make it home to dinner. I rush back into the house and I grab a flashlight and tell Chicklet I'll be right back.
And I'm off... cell phone in hand.
After quite a distance and a few turns I followed the trail as it turned into a driveway and disappeared under a fence gate into a backyard...
I jot down the address and haul butt back to the house... my fingertips are frozen but I'm about to bust this case WIDE open.
I rush into the house and announce my triumph to Chicklet who tries to muster a "yay" and I head into the kitchen to grab the cordless phone. I call 911 while getting Chicklet's dinner ready and take the thermometer back to the kitchen to take her temperature.
I can multitask -cause I'm a WOMAN! W-O-M-A-N!
I get the 911 operator and give her an explanation of what's just occurred. And she tells me she's sending a squad car right over. And oh boy... a pair of tall, dark and handsome officers (ok, so it wasn't the boys from CHiPS) show up in a jiffy. I think they were encouraged by what little work they'd actually have to do. Seems they get a lot of calls like this about stolen items but having their case all but handed over to them is rare.
I go outside with the adorable officers and show them the trail.. and they just grin. Cute officer number one asks me what I do for a living and I explain to him that investigations are one of my assigned duties and he nods his head, smiling.
So they head off towards the offenders domicile...
While I was waiting for them to show up with my snowblower I decided to do some further research and reverse look-up the address. This gives me a phone number and a name... that name is familiar... hmmmmm. As they are out apprehending the little creep I realize where I know that name from... it's one of the kids I hired to mow the lawn last summer. Little bugger cased the sheds!
I call dispatch again and share that tidbit which is then passed along to the lovely strapping young officers... I can imagine the grin THAT got.
From what the officers shared with me, when they informed the father... oh lordy!
The father had the little miscreant push the snowblower uphill a long ass way back to our house. HA!
So... what was this dilemna I was faced with?
He's a minor. And as a minor was given a "different" kind of sentence. His case worker assigned community service hours to the not-so-artful-dodger. They contacted me to ask me if I would allow him to "serve his sentence" with me. Meaning, I could put him to work as a gesture of reparation on his part. I had to decide whether I wanted him back on our property.
Would I be a part of his rehabilitation?
I said yes... I figure it would be a valuable lesson for my Chicklet... and hopefully, learning that someone he had wronged was willing to see the potentially decent human being in him might help him "straighten up and fly right" (as my father always used to say).
Unfortunately, scheduling conflicts got in the way and we never were able to make it happen... but at least I feel as though I've done the right thing. And my daughter does too.
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