Police Beat

Feb. 5

(2009-56987) 1 a.m.: Hey guess what! After only a year of nagging, I convinced art director Shan Stumpf to give this page an overhaul. You like?

You'll notice that this week's Beat has a brand-new feature, our Mug Shot of the Week. These mugs, I should note, are apropos of nothing in particular other than the fact that lots of people get arrested every week and their pictures are public information. Keep that in mind before you run afoul of the law, but remember: Being arrested doesn't mean you did it, whatever it was.

Now for your Police Beat Pseudo-Celebrity in Handcuffs of the Week: Michael Merritt and I have some things in common. We both grew up in West Palm Beach. We both were educated at the University of Central Florida.

There are, of course, differences. Michael now rides the pine with the Kansas City Chiefs, where he no doubt makes six figures despite not playing a single freaking down in his rookie year, after the Chiefs selected him in the final round of the NFL draft. I — despite being a few credits away from a master's degree — work 50 hours a week (honest!) for nowhere near six figures, and thanks to this economy that's not going to improve anytime soon. Oh, and I don't have an arrest record. So there's that.

Some cops patrolling the Central Boulevard parking garage spotted Mr. Merritt, who checks in at a stout 265 pounds of muscle (also like me! Really!), in the passenger seat of his vehicle "rolling what appeared to be a marijuana cigarette." (Later, Officer Evancoe refers to said "cigarette" as a "cigar-shaped object," so think blunt, not joint.) When Merritt saw the police, he tried to eat the blunt, but complied when the cop told him spit it out.

"All this for a little bit of weed?" Merritt asked. Unfortunately, our drug laws are still set by Puritans, so yeah. Jail.

Feb. 13

(2009-71872) 4:44 p.m.: Some gambling leads to some shooting. Gambling is bad.

(2009-71613) 1:40 a.m.: A while back, I told you about a guy who jacked a ring from a mall jewelry store. As I recall, he asked the clerk to see a ring, and when the clerk complied, he took it and ran hauled ass. Well, someone suspiciously like him pulled the same stunt at a jewelry shop in the Mall at Millenia. This guy made off with a Rolex.

(2009-71808) 4 p.m.: Someone stole 29 bottles of booze from a Universal Boulevard hotel, then probably had one hell of a party.

(2009-71998) 6:26 p.m.: Pot deal ends in arrest.

Feb. 14

(2009-72621) 2:07 a.m.: "A known suspect kicked down the door and entered the above address and removed a small Chihuahua from the premises and left the scene in an unknown direction."

(2009-72661) 2:40 a.m.: A guy in a long black trench coat with a walking stick demanded money from a gas station, and got it.

Feb. 16

(2009-75683) 7:08 a.m.: Another day, another-hop-the-fence-and-steal-some-tools crime.

(2009-75766) 8:21 a.m.: Three youngsters broke into a middle school's cafeteria, grabbed the fire extinguisher, busted out nine classroom windows and stole a laptop. The school's alarm system never went off.

(2009-76286) 3:01 p.m.: What possible reason could you have for breaking into a "locked, secured" cabana just to "`damage` four lights and the door?"

Time and case number missing: This week's pizza deliveryman theft is brought to you by an apartment complex near Kirkman Road.

(2009-76812) 10 p.m.: "On the listed date and time, the arrestee ran a stop sign and committed the offense of fleeing and eluding."

Time and case number missing: "Unknown person(s) gained entry into the Motel 6 through a motel room window by cutting the screen and removing the window. Nothing was taken."

Feb. 17

(2009-77383) 8:38 a.m.: Times may be tough, but black-market copper is holding its own.

Time and case number missing: A would-be break-in is foiled by a door.

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