DEC. 13, 3:40 P.M.: Our Police Beat Hero o’ the Week is a 36-year-old ice cream truck driver who wouldn’t take any guff from a trio of handgun-bearing thugs.

Our hero was selling his frozen goodies in an apartment complex in the 5450 block of Raleigh Street when he was approached by two shirtless dudes in their early 20s; one’s chest was tattooed with the words “money is power,” the other’s was inked with a cross, though we will soon have reason to question his devoutness.

“`The ice cream truck driver` advised, while the two male subjects was distracting him, a third black male subject, dressed in black clothing, walked around his van to the driver’s side, with a black semi-automatic handgun in his hand,” Officer De la Flor tells us.

But our driver wasn’t about to idly watch these miscreants make off with his day’s proceeds – or worse. He lunged for the gun, and knocked the gunman over. “While on the ground, `the driver` noted that the subject had dropped the gun and was trying to get it,” De La Flor reports. But our driver beat him to it, which was fortunate, since all three suspects were now punching and kicking him while he was on the ground. The handgun proved the great equalizer here; the driver flipped over, gun pointed at his attackers. They fled.

Mr. Ice Cream Truck Driver, you’re our hero.

DEC. 16, 12:22 P.M.: Gardening enthusiasts, beware! There’s a plant burglar out there, and he could be coming for your petunias next! Officer Spidell reports that some unknown person or persons “removed twelve medium size bonsai trees” today from a garden center in the 1200 block of North Mills Avenue after snipping off the gate’s chain. These are dangerous times, indeed.

DEC. 17, 9:32 A.M.: Nothing says “Merry Christmas” quite like breaking into a ministry and swiping $122 worth of clothes, food and money intended for the needy. Such an incident happened in the 700 block of West Livingston Street, where the unknown suspect(s) broke into the ministry through a boarded-up kitchen window.

Bah, humbug to you too.

DEC. 18, 8:09 A.M.: Looks like someone has some family issues. Our 59-year-old victim left his house for about seven hours and came home to find that his “bedroom door which had a deadbolt lock on it had been pried open by unknown means,” Officer Brewster relates. A deadbolt on the bedroom door? Why, pray tell. “He has had a break-in previously by a family member who he wished not to name.”

Anyway, back to our sordid tale: “Unknown suspect(s) removed approximately $10 of quarters, nickels and dimes from a night stand. The victim noticed a step-ladder into his bathtub and the bathroom window above the shower on the east side of the house was halfway open,” Officer Brewster reports. (That seems quite a bit of work for a few quarters, but we’re lazy.)

“The victim stated that the suspect may be a family member, however, he does not want to press charges until he gets further evidence. The victim plans on installing a motion detector camera inside his home.”

Cost of burglary: $10. Cost of black-and-white wireless motion detector camera: $285, on sale at www.brickhousesecurity.com.

DEC. 18, 10:26 P.M.: Police Beat Tip o’ the Week: If you happen to drive a taxi cab for a living, we do not recommend allowing passengers with bulges under their shirts to use your cell phone while en route to Parramore. Mmkay?

Take it away, Officer Payne: “The `cabbie` saw something under `one of his two male fare’s` jacket. The victim asked the suspect what it was, and the black make suspect told him not to worry about it and to turn on some music. The black male suspect then asked the victim to turn on some music” (hey Officer Payne, a little copy editing wouldn’t kill you) “and if he had a cell phone.”

The cabbie forked over his phone, and the suspect chatted away. Then the suspect asked the driver to go down a dark road. The driver refused. The suspect then asked the driver if he had change for a $50 bill. The fare was $20, so the driver handed him $30. The men got out of the cab, and the driver asked them to, you know, actually give him the $50 bill for which they needed change.

Instead, one of the suspects brandished the aforementioned bulge – a rifle, as it turns out – and told him, “We’re alright man, go on.” The driver did as instructed. “The victim tried to call the police on his cell phone, but his cell phone was not working,” Officer Payne tells us. “It was later discovered that the black male suspect had taken the battery out of the phone and taken it with him.”

Cost of a new cell phone battery: $1, according to the police report.

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