Sheriff's Calls

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An Offbeat Look at Area Crime


There are no stupid questions

EVERGREEN — On the afternoon of Sept. 7, big-box store security notified JCSO that they had a serial shoplifter getting ready to make his move. Sure enough, the cagey fellow loitered around in the store’s foyer for a while until he saw his chance and then pushed his fully loaded shopping cart into the parking lot and straight into the arms of a waiting deputy. Hoping to escape on foot, the thief sprinted across the lot and straight into the concrete arms of an un-scalable 30-foot retaining wall. Knowing himself to be caught, he accepted his theft summons equably. When store security told him he was formally banished for life from that store and all others of its chain the wide world over, he didn’t bat an eye. He did have a few questions for the deputy, though. How, he asked, are shoplifters typically identified? What had he done that day that tipped off store security? What are the various penalties for shoplifting and how are they variously incurred? What, he wondered, was the penalty for disregarding an international retailer’s lifetime ban? The deputy told the inquisitive crook that he didn’t need to know how thieves are caught, but that he did need to know that any further big-box banditry could very easily land him in a jail cell.


A case of fuzzy thinking

EVERGREEN — Thief! she cried. The Bear Creek farmers market employee described for deputies how she’d been sitting in her pickup on the afternoon of Sept. 3 when she spied an older gentleman standing next to the peach display; how she’d looked away “for just a second,” only to look up again just as he was making his getaway, cool as ice, with a plump pair of Palisade’s finest clutched in his fruit-filching fists; how she’d run to check the register log, but found no record of two sold peaches there; how she bravely followed the desperate peach-napper to his car and copied down the license plate in hopes that sweet, succulent justice might yet be served. Deputies tracked the produce-pinching pirate to his Evergreen lair and asked him if he’d happened to stop by any farmers markets that day. Sure, he said, I bought a couple of tomatoes. A likely story, scowled the officers. Let’s see 'em. The man invited the deputies inside and showed them the two plump and perfect tomatoes at rest in his vegetable crisper. “I bought them from the big guy,” he said. The officers showed themselves out with apologies and returned to the farmers market. A re-check of the register logs verified the sale of two tomatoes, and “the big guy” turned out to be the owner, who would have no obvious motive to aid and abet the theft of his own peaches. Deputies declared the case unripe and peeled out.


The word she’s looking for is ‘squatting’

BLUE CREEK — It was all very suspicious, she told deputies on the morning of Sept. 5. In recent days she and her equally diligent neighbors had observed “scruffy looking” young men and women walking about the neighborhood. The youthful vagabonds “look like they’ve been camping,” she said, “but not recreationally.” A quick canvass of the area soon turned up another fellow who confirmed the complainant’s account of “rough looking” men and women stalking the day-lit local streets, as well as information regarding several trails and at least two abandoned cabins occupying a large private parcel of woodland nearby. A third neighbor then recounted an incident wherein her husband encountered an older “normal looking” gentleman and a younger “ne’er-do-well” trying to back a truck-load of logs down a private road leading from the aforementioned private parcel. The ne’er-do-well had explained that he once worked for the property’s out-of-state owners and had their permission to claim those piney prizes. Taking them at their word, the husband affably offered them free access to a big pile of logs he’d been sitting on back home. Normal and Ne’er-do-well thought that was just aces, and said they’d come back in a few days with a skid-steer to help the job along. As of Sept. 5, the men hadn’t come by for the logs and nobody in the neighborhood had been able to obtain contact information for the property’s lawful owners. Pending testimony from those elusive landowners verifying the legitimacy or illegality of those leisurely logging operations and shabby shamblers, deputies logged the whole business as merely “suspicious.”


All fired up

PINE — Expecting a few friends over for beer and rock ‘n’ roll on the evening of Sept. 4, brothers Rafe and Rufus built a big fire in the yard so they could all stand around it. Responding to an unattended-fire call at that address about 7 p.m., deputies found the blaze to be about 3 feet in diameter, about a foot high, and lightly attended by Rafe, who fled at the officers’ approach and hid inside the house. Called out by neighbor complaints again about 9:30, they were able to establish communication with Rafe, who told them to get off’n the property. The officers retreated to the road, from which location they told Rafe they weren’t there to issue a ticket but rather to ask him to be careful about his fire. Rafe said it was Rufus’ fire, and Rufus was on the phone, and would probably remain on the phone as long as there were cops outside. Deputies asked Rafe to ask Rufus to be careful about the fire and departed, only to be drawn back again by a fresh spate of complaints at 10 o’clock. This time, Rafe and Rufus and their friends were standing around an inferno about 4 feet across with flames rising at least that high. As the officers watched, somebody came outside and threw a wooden pallet on the flames, sending sparks and coals flying in all directions. About that time units of Elk Creek Fire showed up and pronounced the fire in violation of county ordinance. The deputies informed Rufus that he was now due a ticket and advised him to extinguish the fire. Rufus just stared at the officers defiantly. The deputies assured Rufus that it would be in his best interest to put out the fire before Elk Creek did. “So we’re getting a ticket for sure?” asked Rufus. The deputies responded in the affirmative. Deputies waited until Rufus had thoroughly doused the bonfire before handing him his summons.