If you are a detective following clues and evidence, or Dorothy following the Yellow Brick Road, or even if you are following breadcrumbs on the forest floor trying to get back to the safety of Grandma’s house, some paths are clear to follow.
As a street cop, in one case, all I had to do was follow the 3-inch-wide groove in the street and list the incidental destruction that it created.
As in a lot of cities and towns there is a “Restaurant Row” where chain eateries and others set up shop right next to each other.
Usually, a call to this place in my city was for dine-and-dash frauds, or the occasional DUI inspired auto accident in a parking lot.
This one however involved the theft of a nautical display outside of a well-known seafood restaurant.
In this case a surplus 2,000 lb. U.S. Navy anchor.
It seems that a patron who had been overdoing it on the signature Navy Grog had taken issue with the sizable tab that he and a few of his “cousins” had run up during a “Happy Landing Hour.”
He had taken Liberty with some of the female waitresses also. (Sorry, old Navy inspired pun there.)
In a rum inspired haze, Matey Number One insisted that the two-for-one special meant that two of his bros could drink for the price of only one ersatz sailor.
And naturally, the restaurant wouldn’t take his check.
They also got a little more than irritated that his credit cards were ALL over the limit. (No surprise there.)
The Seafood manager correctly decided to call the local cops (me) to arbitrate.
Unfortunately, one of the equally inebriated cousins overheard the call to the SFPD Dispatch, and the entire crew decided to abandon ship before the Shore Patrol arrived.
Matey Number One and his buddy, Bosun Mate Last Class Fred drove to their drinking binge in an impressively modified 4-wheel drive semi-monster truck.
Naturally it had a commercial level tow hitch attached so that the Boy Toys they owned could be taken to the local mountains for a weekend of advanced environmental destruction at the hands of their off-road sand rail cars.
Or this hitch could be used to jerk and then drag the restaurants signature Navy Anchor out of the sidewalk display.
Enter the overworked local police sector car.
In addition to listing the financial grievances that the restaurant had, and describing the (alleged) groping of cocktail waitresses, the manager managed to say to me, “They took off THAT way!”
Sherlock Holmes I’m not, but it seemed that the surplus Navy ornament had bounced off the curb, sideswiped a few (fake) palm trees, and then bounced merrily down the street, digging up dinner plate sized chunks of asphalt, while traveling in the general direction of the nearest freeway on ramp.
I was hoping that this would become a California Highway Patrol matter, so I could kiss this entire incident off, but no such luck.
I advised police radio that I was tracking the carnage.
Just before the entrance to Highway 101, the truck with our heroes inside took a high-speed WIDE right turn and managed to swing the anchor on its 10-foot chain tether into several innocently parked cars.
By now the happily bouncing anchor had settled down to its business and was digging a very distinctive linear divot in the street surfaces wherever it followed the escaping Chevy Silverado 4×4.
Every time the truck made a turn, the anchor became almost airborne, and was responsible for more than a few median strip tree beheadings and also crashed into numerous vehicles, resulting in reportable body damage incidents.
(In a moment of cerebral whimsy while trying to catch the truck, I imagined how a parked Honda Prius owner would explain body damage caused by a flying anchor to her insurance agency come the next Monday morning.)
I had run the name on the failed credit card payment through CLETS, NCIC, and the DMV before saddling up, so I had a basic idea of where the truck was going as per its owner’s vehicle registration. I was therefore not surprised at the general direction that this weird pursuit was taking, and even less so when an injury accident was announced in front of the registered owner’s residence on 22nd Ave. at Noriega.
As luck had it, I arrived before the other District cops and Fire Department J-keys did.
What I saw:
The Silverado was semi-buried in the garage door of the Sunset Junior Five home, with the anchor preventing any further progress because it was FIRMLY dug into the edge of the driveway curb outset.
The anchor chain was so tightly strung, that I expected it to hum a musical note when I stuck it with my baton.
There was a classic forehead-into-a windshield depression where an un-seat-belted passenger would wind up after a collision of this sort, and the drivers side airbag was visibly deflating as I approached the truck wreck.
Both former truck occupants were already proned out on the under-watered and wilted front lawn when I called an ambulance for both of them.
The flight (and the fight) was over.
After I took a zillion polaroid photos, I called a city tow truck for the 4×4, and a public works crew to dig out the anchor.
All told, I had over THIRTY auto damage reports to do, at least a dozen city property incidents, and an eleven-page police pursuit report to pen before I could close this debacle out.
I got a free two-for-one dinner pass from the seafood place as a form of gratitude after we returned the anchor so guess I made out okay.
Note: The author is a 1972 US Navy veteran, which explains (but not excuses) the many Navy oriented puns and jokes.