Dec. 7

(2008-529132) 8:34 p.m.: Aww, you missed me. You really missed me. Sniffle. I take one week off from this column and my voice mail is stuffed with a ton of messages — OK, one — wondering where I've gone and when I'm coming back and something to the effect of wanting someone's misdeeds in print so she could take it to court and rub it in his face or something. You guys sure know how to make a columnist feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Speaking of warm and fuzzy, nothing says "happy holidays" like a 30-year-old rubbing one out in front of a woman and her 17-year-old daughter inside a laundromat.

Dec. 8

(2008-529389) 12:09 a.m.: You know what Christmas means? It means that criminals are securing their places on the fat man's naughty list by stealing shit. I hate to admit it, but I have some sympathy for them. I mean, someone's gotta buy the kids presents, and lord knows everyone's broke and the car industry's about to go bust and we're teetering precariously on the edge of the Great Depression: The Sequel. (And just announced, no annual salary increases here in Weeklyland. Merry Christmas to you too.)

Does that justify thievery? I suppose not. But these tough times do make the allure of the five-finger discount — or the old-fashioned smash-and-grab — that much more enticing. Not that I would ever do such a thing. I would never do anything to make the baby Jesus cry. But others don't have the same rigid moral compass. So the rest of this week's Beat is dedicated to those brave souls trying to find that perfect gift, or at least the money to buy it.

For instance, this gentleman, who tried to remove some cash from an open cash drawer at a Walgreens. The clerk grabbed his arm, but the man pulled away and ran toward the doors with at least a little cash. "While running out of the store, `he` ran into the front door which failed to open fast enough," Officer Zedick tells us.

You can always use cash to buy things. Like, you know, crack. The kids love crack.

(2008-529530) 2:56 a.m.: Three guys broke into a Rent-A-Center on South Semoran Boulevard and "attempted to steel" — long night, Officer Zedick? — some big flat-screen televisions, but the TVs were chained together. Fail. They made off with some miscellaneous electronic goodies, though. Stocking stuffers.

(2008-529737) 8 a.m.: A man broke into a West Michigan Street office building and stole some copper wire and a microwave.

(2008-529752) 8:11 a.m.: Another copper theft, this time in Lake Nona. Pay attention, parents: Copper is all the rage this holiday season. Your offspring will love it.

(2008-529796) 8:41 a.m.: Does that special someone in your life need a dishwasher? How about a refrigerator or maybe a brand-new oven? Look no further than the model home closest to you! See, given that no one's buying houses anymore and developers couldn't see the writing on the wall a few years back, there are lots of unfinished subdivisions about, and all of them have at least one finished model home that no one lives in. But since they have to make it look pretty, these things are loaded with all the kitchen accessories your heart could ever desire! To wit, some folks unloaded said accessories from a model house on Covington Cove Way.

(2008-530168) 1:53 p.m.: What do you get the man who has everything? Cocaine, of course! Note: It only works if the cops don't catch you.

(2008-530207) 2:30 p.m.: I asked my mom to buy me one of those pimp flat-screen LCD TVs this year. She laughed at me. Anyway, someone broke into a storage shed and removed two televisions.

Dec. 9

(2008-531053) 2:13 a.m.: There was a time, not long ago, when I felt the pain of the broke smoker. I remember hunting for quarters in the car and buying discount smokes that tasted like ass and motor oil. This next fella's strategy never occurred to me.

He walked into a convenience store and asked for a pack of smokes. Then he tried to snatch them off the counter. When that didn't work, he threatened to pull out a gun. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

In other news, Nicorette makes an excellent gift for the smoker in your life.

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