The Great Sticker Caper
By Harry Penny
There are times working the Early Morning Shift when things get slow: The bars have closed and the drunks have found a place to rest their weary arms – from doing all that heavy lifting of liquid containers – and this gave us some time to actually snoop around and try and catch a burglar or two. So off we went: driving in alleys, looking for signs of pry marks on rear doors to businesses – yes, that was an actual way of using your flashlight for something other than bopping some bad guy on the noggin’ (only when he deserved it, of course).
We were cruising one of the alleys in the vicinity of Figueroa and El Segundo and as we passed between two buildings we could just barely make out the shape of a car. It was a fairly foggy night and the exhaust coming from the exhaust pipe on the car was visible. Hot Damn! We’ve got something going here.
So…pull up a few feet, park the radio car, sloooooowly get out of the car and quietly walk back to the area, keeping a sharp eye out for any movement and a keen ear to hear any sounds. Ah, yes…these burglars won’t even know we’re here.
As we get to the edge of the building I can now see the car. What the???? Two lights on the top, one on the left and one on the right, and a large round object in the middle. Hmmmm…. looks like two red lights and a siren to me. Definitely not an LASD patrol car, but sure does resemble the outline of an LAPD unit. Their area ended a few blocks away: LAPD 77th Division bordered our area on the West side and ended at Central Ave.
Now we go into extreme silent mode: Tippy-toe-tippy-toe right up to the back of the car. Yep! LAPD. Windows rolled up and two officers in a “resting” position. We make sure they are just sleeping. The light bulb in my head goes off and ideas start coming in bunches. I signal my partner and we quietly depart the vicinity being very careful not to wake them from their beauty rest.
We went back to our car and removed the bumper jack from the trunk, along with a couple of blocks of 4” x 6” wood. We then quietly tippy-toe back to the nappers. We place the bumper jack under the rear bumper of the LAPD car and sloooooowly raise the car, one quiet click at a time until we could place the two blocks under the rear axle.
When we finished we silently departed again and returned to our car. Enroute, I got another idea: I get my pad of HOLD FOR SHERIFF stickers that we used to lick and paste on items that needed fingerprinting and we again return to the victim car. We each start licking and pasting the stickers all over the front windshield, careful to leave just enough space for them to see through. That done, we again silently depart. This has taken us almost thirty minutes – it was a painstaking process for each click of the bumper jack— from the time we first saw them until now. We were very careful not to awaken them, as it could be a dangerous situation to say the lease.
When we got back to the car another light bulb went off in my head: It would be another kicker to place one of our recruitment bumper stickers on their rear bumper. The Sheriff’s Department had a recruitment campaign for Deputy Sheriffs. Each station was given a bunch of light green bumper stickers with the words “Be A Deputy Sheriff” , the sheriff’s star, and the main phone number. The objective was to place them on our radio cars and also could be given away as public relations to businesses etc. in the area. Being public relations conscious as I was – yeah, right – I went back to their car and placed one right smack in the center of the rear bumper. That should get a rise out of someone back at their station.
My partner and I then drove back to the front of the buildings and stopped right at the entrance to the alleyway. Many of the deputies carried firecrackers in their individual “patrol box”. I was one of them. You never could tell when they might come in handy. For what reason I never did know. I took three and lit them and tossed them into the alley. As soon as they went off my partner hit the siren and red lights.
Immediately, the headlights and red lights on the LAPD unit went on and the engine began to roar. Only one problem: The LAPD unit did not go anywhere with those blocks under the rear axle, which had raised the rear end about one inch off the ground and if that wasn’t bad enough, they had to scrape the stickers off the front window.
We immediately departed the area trying uncontrollably to contain our laughter.
For the next several weeks we did not see any LAPD units parked in our area, but they had their ways of payback.
©Harry D. Penny, Jr., 2002