Charge grand stupidity in auto theft

This Just In...

March 05, 1997|By DAN RODRICKS

Time now - because we could all use a laugh - for Guilty But Mostly Stupid (or Accused But Mostly Stupid, depending on the status of the criminal case at hand), a sporadic TJI feature in which are told true tales of dumb crooks, those wayward wrongdoers who fall on their own foils. This latest edition comes to us from the service department manager of a Baltimore County car dealership. He asked that he not be identified because his boss is none too happy about what happened - despite the giggles and grins.

Seems that, one afternoon in early February, a fellow came into the car dealership to size up some products of Ford Motor Co. He was there for almost three hours, checking out sedans and trucks. Somehow, while he was in the dealership, he managed to steal the keys to five new vehicles. This became apparent just before 9 p.m., closing time, when employees of the car dealership discovered a 1997 four-wheel-drive sport utility vehicle, valued at $32,000, missing off the lot. They also discovered that the keys to four other new vehicles were gone.

So, before shutting the doors for the night, they parked the four at-risk cars inside the service department garage.

That's where my informant, the service manager, comes in. My )) guy arrived at work, as usual, at 6:45 a.m. He found the four cars in his garage. He and some employees moved them to the parking lot. They thought they were doing the sales staff a favor.

Instead, they were doing the thief a favor (unwittingly, may I add).

Fifteen minutes after the cars were moved outdoors, the boss' son came by.

He wanted to know where a certain silver sedan was.

"It's out front," the service manager told Boss' Son. "I just parked it there."

"Where? Show me."

The service manager gestured. "Over there," he said, "where that big empty hole is right now."

Obviously, this slick car thief had been watching and waiting for an opportunity to snatch a second vehicle using the keys he had stolen the evening before.

Baltimore County police came and took a report. The car dealership established a new policy for the handling of keys to new cars.

Two weeks went by. There was no sight of the stolen vehicles. No arrests, either.

Then my source, the service manager, got a phone call. It was from his counterpart at a car dealership in the eastern end of the county. Seems there was this big 1997 sedan in for service. It had been towed to the second dealership after its owner called for Ford Motor Co.'s famous roadside assistance, using an 800 number. The second service manager needed to know the date of delivery to verify the warranty on the car. Could my guy look it up? After all, it was his dealership that had sold the car.

So, my guy, glad to oblige, went to his files.

L But he couldn't find a record of the car's having been sold.

"May I ask, what color is this car?" my guy asked.

"Silver."

Well, whaddaya know about that, folks?

Here's a new one for the archives: Man steals keys to car from Dealer No. 1. Man steals car. Man drives car. Car breaks down. Man calls for roadside assistance. Roadside assistance tows car to Dealer No. 2. (You wouldn't take a brand new car to just any ol' service station, would ya?) Man orders repairs. Repairs made. Car ready. Dealer No. 2 calls man.

MAN COMES BACK TO GET CAR!

Baltimore County police are there waiting for him.

"Police were writing up the report," my guy says, "and, at one point, the officer writing the report looks up and asks, 'What's the value of this [silver] car?' We tell him $43,000. 'Ah, then,' the dTC cop says, 'that's now grand theft auto.'"

Flying high

I've received a response, via e-mail, to the expression of desire in this space Friday to dine with Airiana The Human Arrow. Airiana is the main attraction of this year's edition of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, due at the Baltimore Arena a week from today. Perhaps you've seen the image of this exciting arrow woman flying out from posters. (I saw her again on a paper place mat at McDonald's in Govans the other day. What can I say? She excites me as a man and a journalist.) I said I'd like to have dinner with Airiana at Sotto Sopra or, at least, a couple of beers at Pickles Pub.

"I'm flattered you want to meet me," said Airiana. "But I dinner or a few beers? For a Human Arrow? Afraid I can't. I have to keep my aerodynamic figure. Thanks for the invite, though. Gotta fly." It was signed, "Airiana, The (Female) Human Arrow."

Intrigued? Moi aussi. Watch this space.

Contact Dan Rodricks by voice mail at 332-6166, by post at The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278, by e-mail at TJIDAN

aol.com, or through the World Wide Web at http: // www.sunspot.net.

Pub Date: 3/05/97

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