FORENSIC FILES

Case Status by W.C. Gordon

The following is an except from the novel The Detective Next Door.

“On Tuesday, November 8th , 2016 at approximately 0720 hours, officers reported to 16 Hibiscus Dr. in reference to a report of a stolen vehicle. Contact was made with the victim who advised that his blue 2016 BMW 330i was stolen by an unknown suspect(s) sometime overnight. No forced entry was noted and the victim stated that the vehicle was unlocked and the keys were inside.”

Every follow up investigative narrative starts the same: A brief synopsis of the incident. This particular synopsis, like many, makes me want to punch the victim.

“During the afternoon hours of 11/8/16, I was assigned this case to further investigate.” That means that this idiot, I mean victim, and his lack of wherewithal to lock his car and not leave the keys inside is now my problem. It’s referred to as a “victim assisted crime” in law enforcement and it’s annoying.

It’s the usual script with these people.

Victim: “Detective, why was I targeted?”

Me: “You weren’t targeted. The suspects were only looking for unlocked vehicles that may have had the keys left inside.” Translation: If you locked your vehicle, it would still be parked in your driveway.

Victim: “What is the police department doing about this?”

Me: “We have increased patrols in areas that are repeatedly targeted in an effort to deter future crimes.” Translation: Apart from holding your hand while you lock your car and remind you on a daily basis to not leave valuable stuff in plain sight, we’re kind of out of ideas on how to prevent this from happening. You’re the reason why my insurance premiums are high.

Victim: “How many agencies have you resourced to recover my car? I love that car. My golf clubs were in the back. I love those clubs.”

Me: “Sir, we work very closely with other agencies and utilize a multitude of investigative resources in efforts to locate and recover your vehicle. We have automated license plate readers located throughout the region which will notify me if there is a sighting of your vehicle, and the South Florida Task Force, which specializes in stolen vehicles, has been made aware of this particular incident.” Translation: Your car is probably in a chop shop in Hialeah or in a shipping container on its way to Dubai. Again, if you locked your car we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

Victim: “I worry that whoever stole my car will come back and target my house. Maybe even me, my wife, or my kids.”

Me: “Sir, I can assure you that this was not personal. The suspects were only looking for unsecured vehicles and happened upon yours. They will not be back to target your home.” Translation: These mutts don’t even know what neighborhood they were in, sometimes not even the town, let alone be able to find your house in particular. Some kid was pulling on door handles hoping to find one that some idiot was careless enough to leave unlocked with the keys in it. You’re that idiot, sir.

Me: “Sir, if I may ask: Why were your keys inside of your vehicle?” I already know the answer.

Victim: “Oh, I always leave the keys in the cupholder so I know where they’re at and can find them.”

Bingo. That’s not the first time and sure as hell won’t be the last time that I have been told that. It never ceases to amaze me though.

Me: “Sir, have you considered a hook in the garage to hang the keys? Maybe a dish on the stand by the front door?” Translation: Anywhere but inside the car you big dumb dummy!

Victim: “Well Detective, hindsight is 20/20 isn’t it?”

Me: “Of course, sir.” I say as I raise an eyebrow that to any reasonable person would be interpreted as a subtle screw you.

As I leave the victim, I let him know that I will be making all efforts to recover his vehicle in a timely fashion and list all the resources that will be utilized. I assure him that I will not rest until I personally find and return his vehicle, letting him know this case is my top priority.

When I get around to returning to the office after grabbing lunch, getting a coffee, picking up a shirt and slacks from TJ Maxx, getting the wife some flowers from Publix and myself a W.C. Gordon 18 bottle of Knob Creek from the liquor store next to it, I sit down at my desk and type the following: “Based on my investigation, I have exhausted all possible investigative leads at this time. Due to there being no known suspect(s), witnesses or investigative leads, I will be reclassifying this case from active to inactive until new investigative leads become known. Case status – Inactive.” Done and on to the next waste of time.

W.C. Gordon is a cop, veteran, and author of the novel The Detective Next Door. His writing is influenced by his personal experiences in the military and in law enforcement, which he then mixes with bourbon and dark humor. He lives at his home in South Florida with his wife and dog.