DEC. 27, 1:07 P.M.: Just because candy canes are now half-price at Target doesn't mean the holiday spirit has to cease. But sadly, the holidays provided no real respite from crime in the City Beautiful. Example: the following act, reported just two days after Kris Kringle's globewide expedition.

The night was likely black when an unknown perp or perps emerged, patrolling the 4900-5032 block of East Colonial Drive at the Herndon Village Shoppes center. The bad guy(s) mounted the roof of the shops, just as Santa and his reindeer might have done days before. But the person or persons had not come to pitch dollies and Tonka toys down chimneys; he, she or they wanted to "remove copper coils and tubing from the 14 air conditioning units," police reports state. Duh!

And remove said coils they did. After carefully dissecting the units, it is reported that $80,000 worth of damage was left behind and $15,000 worth of copper coils and tubing taken. That's a lot of copper.

DEC. 27, 11:21 P.M.: Later that evening more behavior that Santa would not approve of took place on our city streets, this time in the Bahia Avenue area.

A 16-year-old boy walked the avenue, northbound, when two cars pulled up beside him — one red, one silver. Nope, not a car full of folks offering the lone nomad a ride home. These were cars packed with eight very naughty hooligans, all appearing to be less than 18 years of age. Upon exiting the cars, the mob aggressively approached and did what bad boys do best: demanded money, and sneakers, too.

The teen boldly declined to hand over the goods and was punished for his bravery by a whack to the back of his head with a baseball bat. When he collapsed on the pavement like a soggy noodle, the crew of juvie joyriders took advantage of the opportunity and removed his tennis shoes. Later, after eight stitches to the head at the hospital, the battered boy was able to accurately describe the stolen shoes: Nikes, size 11.5; blue, gray and white; sporting the initials "LA" on the side, reports state. It appears his memory was not harmed.

DEC. 31, 9:49 P.M.: If you had any doubts, allow tonight's spotlight of criminal balderdash to confirm your suspicions: the year 2006 was chock-full of miscreants in need of a good butt-paddling, pronto.

The hooligans lurking the streets this night were after a 30-year-old man and his pal, who were doing nothing but casually roaming the area near Appian Way and Engle Drive. The suspects? Both approximately 16 years old. What separates these two from the majority of other young derelicts, however, is their choice of weaponry; not a baseball bat, not a switchblade, but a pair of nunchucks. Kowabunga.

One of the victims sustained a laceration to the head. The suspects also made off with $40 and a black wallet stuffed with plastic.

JAN. 1, 4:20 A.M.: One shouldn't find it surprising that on the first day of 2007, malevolence led to more marred flesh, even before the sun broke the horizon. A 31-year-old man with dark eyes walked his dog on the sidewalk in the 4400 block of Middlebrook Road, south of his apartment by the tennis courts. Suddenly, there was a noise and a stir behind him; it wasn't the sound of Fido tinkling, either.

"Give me all you got," demanded a mysterious voice from behind, reports state, a single golden tooth glimmering in the dark. "Give me all you got!"

The man informed the suspect that he didn't have anything on him, but that wasn't the answer said suspect wanted to hear. "Give me all your loot or else!" came the reply. Talk about not getting the point.

The morning stroller, still clutching his canine, reassured the approximately 25-year-old perp that he had zilch. Zip. Diddly-squat. But that answer wasn't good enough.

"Or else you'll get this!" the suspect shouted a final time, now pointing what distinctly looked like a gun at the man. Then he pulled the trigger. The projectile struck the cell phone that had been resting in our victim's shorts' front left pocket, leaving him unharmed. Someone's going to have a lucky 2007.

JAN. 1, 6:11 A.M.: A man, 65, who works for a car-door unlocking business, was en route to help a stranded stranger back into his 1999 Chevrolet Impala near North Terry Avenue and West Robinson Street. When the locked-out lad flagged the man down, pointing at a car, he pulled over. Then, suspiciously, the guy started pointing at a second vehicle with people inside. Fishy stuff.

The driver stepped out of his car and immediately asked the man with the thin mustache for his driver's license. Instead of complying, the man pulled a Glock-shaped gun out and demanded the driver dish over all of his cash. The driver desperately pulled out an invoice proving he'd just started working and had no coinage at the time. Then something like a miracle took place: The gun-wielding dude let the driver go.

Perhaps this is a harbinger of a kinder, gentler City Beautiful in 2007, one where each man respects his fellow man and no one has to resort to crime. But probably not. There are too many coin-operated laundries to loot and sneakers to steal.

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