DEC. 20, 10:04 P.M.: A woman, 29, was leaving a pharmaceutical store in the 5100 block of North Pine Hills Road. En route to her car, however, she noticed three young men dawdling near it. Such late-night lounging can signal trouble.

"Give me your purse!" shouted one of the young men, disregarding the spirit of the season, which posits that it is better to give than receive.

The woman ignored the demand, and proceeded to open and enter her car. It was at that point that she was greeted by a semi-automatic handgun.

"Give me your purse!" the punk persisted.

Wisely, the woman relinquished her purse. But this case was not over. It happens that her boyfriend witnessed the tomfoolery from a nearby intersection. Enraged, he steered his truck through a flower bed and into the parking lot, confronting the trio. They fled on foot, and he chased them until he caught a bullet in the leg.

In the end, the suspects made off with a prized $10, or $3.33 per punk.

DEC. 20, 10:03 P.M.: Something odd is going on; quite a few pilferers have been pining for pizza pies this month. Witness the following case:

A 21-year-old deliveryman was on his way to an apartment complex in the 6000 block of Conroy Road, where he had been dispatched to deliver three steamin' pies. Upon arrival, he was greeted by suspect No. 1, dressed in black from head to toe.

"Give me the pizzas and your car keys," the man in black (apologies to the late Johnny Cash) demanded, police reports state.

"I can't do that," the deliveryman replied. Then he did something above and beyond the call of duty: He pushed the would-be thief aside and raced toward the apartment to complete his appointed rounds. This young man might want to consider a career with the United States Postal Service.

A second, armed suspect chased him for a brief while but was not able to catch up. Sadly, this tale does not have a happy ending. The thieves found the deliveryman's car — unlocked — and pocketed a $200 cell phone from its glove box.

DEC. 17, 1:58 A.M.: A couple of suspects sporting black attire, gloves, ski masks and semi-automatic handguns broke into a home in the 4400 block of Scenic Lake Drive. They broke through the front door, zip-tied a victim and began "verbally demanding money and drugs," police reports state. No drugs were available, but careful rummaging within the master bedrooms proved fruitful: 15 Louis Vuitton purses were swiped along with some cash. The suspects subsequently fled with their new bags, divvied up and dangling from their arms, no doubt.

DEC. 16, 9:10 P.M.: Three more pie robberies, all within an hour of one another. One of the trio took place in 5800 block of North Orange Blossom Trail.

An 18-year-old deliveryman was getting ready to enter his pizza-mobile through the driver's side door when two boys approached. The suspects — each approximately 16 years old — wore their sweatshirt hoods taut around their faces. They brandished a black handgun, and demanded he surrender the saucy pizzas and all cash. Our victim said he had no cash, but complied with the pie request, relinquishing three large pizzas, a submarine sandwich and a two-liter bottle of Pepsi. Together, the grub was valued at $35. The suspects fled on foot toward a pool hall. Our victim, most humbly, did not press charges.

"An unknown male reportedly chased the suspects on foot, but he was never identified and he never came forth to provide a statement," police reports state. Had this night-roving pie chaser in fact been the duty-bound deliveryman from the Dec. 17 robbery? Reports do not indicate, although this author would like to think someone is safeguarding The City Beautiful's pizza; it's getting so you can't enjoy a slice around here without watching your back.

DEC. 16, 8:21 P.M.: If only these kids had been involved in something as innocuous as heisting pizza. Sigh.

The evening began with a 240-pound girl, 14, arguing with a 15-year-old boy in the 2800 block of West Concord Street. The evening ended with the girl stabbing the boy in the chest while yelling, "Die, bitch, die." The girl was immediately arrested, and the boy was sent to the hospital in stable condition.

DEC. 15, 10 P.M.: Well, that was depressing. Let's get back to boosting consumables, shall we? And what goes with pizza? Cold beer, and lots of it.

Even though a woman, 69, locked her garage in the 2000 block of Santa Antilles Road before retiring for the night, a suspect or suspects managed to break inside after prying open a back door. The shiny taupe 2005 Toyota parked inside did not divert our burglar or burglars from the call of duty: stealing suds. Two packs of beer, valued at $20, and two bottles of wine, valued at $50, were extracted from a refrigerator (note: Wine should not be stored in refrigerator). Before exiting via the same back door they took a single cell phone, valued at $20, from the unlocked vehicle. Who has a cell phone worth $20?


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