Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ace Glasner, Pet Detective: The Return

Ace Glasner, Pet Detective has returned.

Last week, I was on my way home from a late happy hour and was walking down a dark side street, when I passed by a man reaching through the window of a car and taking something out of it. At the time, I was chatting away on my cellphone, but it gradually dawned on me that the way the man was reaching into the car was a little odd: why didn't he just open the car door? So, with my reputation as the most discrete operative that the CIA has never heard of still intact, I casually crossed the street and pretended to just blab away into the phone while keeping a tab on newly identified criminal suspect numero uno. This was the first time I was actually witnessing a crime in progress. Much to my regret, I had brought nothing remotely useful to catch a car thief barehanded. Nevertheless, banking on some handy detective work to break the case I decided I could recover the stolen goods and land criminal suspect numero uno in the county lockup. Enter Ace Glasner, Pet Detective.

After the thief finished his business on the car, he took a brief look at me (I was still on the phone), glanced down both ends of the street, and started walking off very nonchalantly as if he was just a regular fella out for a 10PM stroll. With his back to me, I swung by the victimized car to confirm that yes, the window had been shattered and something (a radio? GPS?) had been taken out of it. So, lagging behind a bit, I followed criminal suspect numero uno down the street and, without even looking down at my keyboard, dialed 9-1-1. Mere mortals would, at this point, have been scared away, but Ace Glasner is no mere mortal.

When the police picked up, I was so shocked that I momentarily forgot where I was. Really, the suspense of this whole caper was killing me. Recovering my senses, I engaged in a conversation with the dispatcher. ("Hi.....Where are you calling from?.......15th and O Street.....What city? ......Oh. Sorry. Washington, DC......Where sir?....15th and O street .....where in the city is that? ......Oh. Whoops. 15th and O Street, NW.....15th and L Street?.....No, 15th and O Street.....And what's the matter?......I'mcallingtoreportthatumacarthiefhasjustbrokenintoacarandumhe'sstanding rightdownthestreetfrommeandumI'mlookingrightathim.....Say that again? What is the nature of your emergency sir?.....Sorry-getting ahead of myself there. I just witnessed someone breaking into a car and I still see the person that did it.....Ok, sir can you give a description of the individual?....Yes, African American, average hight, jeans, black coat, and backpack....Ok, sir someone will be there soon.")

About five minutes later, no police officers or SWAT teams or FBI agents or even a security guard had materialized as promised, even though criminal suspect numero uno was a sitting duck near the bus stop looking as if nothing had ever happened. At that point, I was pretty skeptical whether anybody would show and, it seemed like the thief must have read my mind, because he got up and started walking away. I went down a parallel block and slipped up on my detective work and lost the suspect. (Rule #1 for good detectiving: Don't lose the suspect when he's standing right next to you!!!) But good fortune smiled upon me and I happened upon a police officer just getting out of his cruiser. So, I approached the police officer - Officer Johnson was his name- and told him what I had just witnessed. He called in my complaint and told the dispatcher that he had the witness standing right next to him and that I could ID a suspect if the police had one.

The night then turned into a truly memorable experience. Unbelievably, the dispatcher said that a suspect had in fact been detained! So, Officer Johnson invited me to pile into the cruiser with him and off we were. This was my first ever ride in a police car!!! Front seat, on the way to catch a criminal, and (most unfortunately) no sirens on but still very very urgent. Officer Johnson decided that it would be a good time while we were in the car to discuss in depth how impressed he was that I run to exercise instead of sharing all the exciting stories he has as a 17-year member of the police force, which is really what I was interested in, but when you're two experienced crime fighters like him, and now me, you're not supposed to talk about catching criminals in the police cars, you're only supposed to talk about things like the weather, as if nothing really really exciting ever happens.

So, after about 5 minutes we get to the location where the suspect has been detained and what-do-you-know but we're at 15th and L Street, not 15th and O. Flashing a light on the windshield so that the suspect couldn't see into the police car but I could see out, I took one look at the poor guy with a backpack on who had been arrested and told Officer Johnson that it wasn't him.

On our ride back, Officer Johnson was still happily chatting away about how he thinks running is a really hard way to exercise, while I stared off into space, thinking about the police medals, thank you letters, and overwhelming media attention I would have received had we just nabbed the right suspect. A caper that began with such potential ended with me having to put off my moment of glory for another day. Until then..... Ace Glasner, Pet Detective will be back.