Sunday, January 29, 2006

We have reason to believe your vehicle….

Was involved in a robbery.

That’s what she said…

It was a Saturday morning, in the mid-1980's, and one of the rare Saturday mornings back then that I was sleeping in, all the way to 7:00am!! When I heard the knocking at the back (garage) door, I assumed it was one of my friends stopping in for coffee as was the Saturday custom back then.

So I hopped out of bed, slipped on a pair of gym shorts and headed out back and opened the door.

There, instead of one of my friends, was a female New York State Trooper.

I asked what I could do for her and she replied by asking if that was my truck parked there, as she pointed to my 1968 Ford pickup. I said “Yes it is”, thinking she was going to attempt to buy it, as I had at least one person a week do that.

Her next statement stunned me though. “Sir, we have reason to believe this truck was used in a robbery on Thursday.”

I can’t really begin to describe to you the thoughts that ran through my head at that moment. You see “knowing” there was no possible way I’d done anything remotely illegal, combined with her statement and my not yet fully awake state, had me in some sort of surreal ‘limbo’, where reality as I knew it had been suspended.

After what felt like an hour, but was probably only a couple of seconds, of mental anguish on my part, I responded with “Do you really think I could possibly be that stupid?”

You see this was not some old ratty 1968 Ford, it had originally been a North Carolina truck, brought back to NY and completely redone. Drive train to paint, it was just about 100% new, and the paint job, well it was mostly black, but it was also covered with Candy blue’s, yellow’s and gold’s over a white metallic base. It was distinctive, one of a kind, and everyone in three counties seemed to know the trucks history.

I quickly followed my comment with “What I’m trying to say, Officer, is that if I was going to commit a crime, wouldn’t I have used something a bit less conspicuous?”

She then began to tell me what she believed she knew.

That on Thursday, the truck had been involved in the theft of some antique ‘rocking horses’, and went on to tell me the name of the victim, and how he came to ‘finger’ my truck as the one he’d seen.

As she was doing that, my mind was racing a mile a minute, retracing my week, trying to remember where I’d been, what I’d been doing, and which vehicle I’d been driving (we had at least three back then)… in the course of that mental journey, I remembered that I hadn’t had the truck on Thursday, that I’d lent it to my buddy Whit so he could help another friend of ours Greg, move into a new apartment.

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks… I knew what was going on.

Now, I’ve had friends, at times, who, if the police had came to the door with this story, I’d have believed it was possible. Not Whit, he’s without a doubt one of the most honest men I’ve ever known, then, and to this day.

I did recall him telling me the previous weekend (you might recall from some earlier posts that he and I were, and remain, good friends and I could be found at his shop, as often as you’d find me anywhere) that he and this fellow that lived next to the shop were having a bit of a ‘land dispute’ over a deeded right of way.

I explained to the officer that on Thursday, I was not in possession of the truck, and that I had lent it to my friend Whit, saying “You know, Whit, that fella down the street, across 49, who does all the service on your police cars?”

She looked at me, quizzically actually, and something to the effect that she would be headed down there now, got in her car and left.

I was on the phone in less than 30 seconds, had Whit on the phone letting him know what was headed his way, and he was actually laughing… we ended the phone conversation with him saying “She’s pulling in now” and me saying “I’ll be right down”.

I got dressed, hopped in the pickup and shot down to Whit’s place, the cop was leaving as I pulled in.

It turned out, that in an attempt to prevent Whit from using his right of way (which, for those of you who don’t know is the ‘right’ to cross another persons property at a particular place, power companies have them all over the place for access to the power lines) this old fellow had placed some very old, as in 30+ years old, “Saw horses”, not rocking horses, across the driveway.

Whit, simply loaded them on the back of the truck and moved them out of his way, placing them out of sight, but still on this fellows land. So technically they hadn’t been stolen, just moved off the right of way.

Once the Troopers realized they’d stepped in to the middle of a land dispute, and that the ‘value’ of these saw horses was probably less than the cost of the gas they’d used driving to my house and Whit’s place, the investigation was over.

I remembered this story, yesterday as I drove past a 1968, maybe 69 Ford pickup… It got me thinking of that old truck, how I’d gotten it from Whit, made all sorts of my own tweaks on it, and then sold it back to him years later… How we’d both loved, and enjoyed that old truck, from the way it would nearly drive out from underneath you when you dropped the hammer, to the heads it turned where ever you went in it!

I hope Whit reads this, and will add a comment on his memory of that day, I’m sorry it wasn’t one of the tales we told last summer because it never fails to amuse the listeners when we tell it together!!

Thanks for listening, please feel free to leave a comment, thought or memory of your own!!

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seeingdouble said...

That's a classic story... I hope they worked out the land dispute!

Dizzy Ms. Lizzy said...


That story IS a classic! I bet your heart just about stopped when she said that - - what a way to wake up! DEFINITELY an eye-opener! :-)


P.S. Thanks for your kind words about the house-building project. We have decided to "back up 10 yards and punt" . . . and see where things land! :-)

Nina said...

LOL, that is a good and classic story. Times have changed a lot since then but land disputes are still alive and well.

Chloe said...

Very entertaining, Bill, as always - great writing, too!

Cylithria™ said...

Tooooooo Funny, just too dang funny!!! HAHAHAHA

Firehawk said...


Never get involved with land disputes between people. That's sort of a corrolary to the famous, "Never get involved in a land ware in Asia," I think.

I think that we always remember the times the police show up, don't we? If it happens often enough that you're desensitized, you might be living too much of "The High Life".

Good story.

Firehawk said...

...oops, land WAR.

Trying to type faster than my fat fingers want to go.

We actually lost a got quarter of an acre of land once, just because we didn't stake off the edge of our property well enough (and we weren't natives in the area, so got no breaks).

No vehicles or sawhorses, or rocking horses, were stolen in that incident, however.

Flash said...

Fantasic story!

Nothing like being awoken on a Saturday by cops banging on your door.

I wish you still had that truck though. It sounded like a gem.rviiwea

Trevor Record said...

Haha, that's classic. One thing I am unclear of - did he claim that rocking horses were stolen or was it just a misunderstanding?

Spirit Of Owl said...

ROTFL! Let's not talk of who cleans up the rocking horse shit! :D

Jaxx said...

I can only imagine how funny it sounds when two old friends get together to tell it. It sounds like a classic. Do we know how the land dispute turned out?

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Kim said...

hmmm. I have a land dispute with my neighbor. They think their dog shits on their property and I think it's on mine. I always give it back to them though.

Bill said...

First to you all... the dispute was worked out, eventually, sort of... At least they had a sort of 'uncomfortable truce' over it all.

SeeingDouble - Thanks, it's one of my favorite stories to tell

Liz - The way I remember it I was more concerned about only being attired in a pair of gym shorts!! The rest had me thinking I must be dreaming

Nina - Land disputes will go on as long as there is land, and neighbors... I think my buddy had little to do with this one, other than to try and ignore the other guy.

Chloe - Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Cylithria - I'm glad it put a smile on your face!

Firehawk - Two very good rules to live by, avouding Land Wars, especially in Asia, and keeping police vists to a memorable few!!

We had a problem here, with our newest neighbors. Seems the old owners had misrepresented the boundry lines... I'll have to tell the fence story soon!

Flash - I wish I still had it too... however, by the end of the summer I'm going to have a very nice '78 Chevy that should earn some tales of its own!

Trevor - I think that the police heard, "old" and "horses" and places 'rocking' where 'saw' should have been. There's no way they would have gotten involved over less than $100 worth of stuff.

Spirit - Heh-heh.. Fortunately it all sort of cleaned itself up!!

Jaxx - I think one of the reasons I really miss seeing all of those folks is that so many of my memories involve all of them. It seems we can 'tell tales' for hours whenever we get together.

Kim - I think that's the Christian thing to do. Return to your neighbors that which is theirs!!

Comfort Addict said...

I love those old car stories. The "antique rocking horse" explanation was a hoot!

Bill said...

CA - Thanks man... it always makes me smile when I think of it... I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Whit said...

You know Bill I had forgotten that story. In that time era of my life something like that was commonplace seems like I was always on the edge of arrest for an act that wasn’t quite illegal. Thanks for the well written story. I sure miss you and the old gang! Whit

Bill said...

Whit - Gald you stopped by bud... always good to see you.

There were some 'edgy' times for both of us as I recall, never quite illegal stuff, but on the edge of things from time to time :)

Hard to believe it's all nearly 20 years gone by...

I miss you too Whit, we'll be up again this summer... seems we're about all that's left of the old gang!!