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April 29, 3:08 p.m.: Spring is here, and that means people all over town are waiting for their hibernating plants to bloom. Some, however, have little patience with nature and find it easier to snatch shrubbery than to nurture it. Sad but true.

A 47-year-old complainant was working at a medical office in the 300 block of West Michigan Street when he noticed "two black males pulling azalea bushes out of the ground in front of the business' window," according to police reports. "He confronted the suspects and asked them what they were doing." Unable to explain themselves, the perps started arguing with our complainant. They asked him not to call the police. Then they replanted four out of the five heisted shrubs and left the scene in a four-door white Acura with gold trim. There was a towel over the license plate, so the tag number was not visible.


April 30, 2:51 a.m.: An 18-year-old man was heading toward his bus for a ride home after celebrating graduation at Universal Studio's "Grad Bash 2006." He didn't realize how literal the name of the event would prove to be.

According to police reports, "The victim was walking back to the buses when an unknown black male came up and punched him near the right eye." Sensing that a fight was inevitable, our victim handed over his camcorder to a friend and placed his jewelry in his pocket. Good preparation, but why not call security? Seconds later, a group of assailants returned and pummeled the celebrant. One guy went through his pockets, snatching the $150 gold bracelet the victim tried to hide and $200 in cash. (Where was the buddy he handed his camcorder to? Did he tape the shakedown?)

The victim had "a swollen right eye and sustained a cut to his elbow and the top of the right hand." But it ended on a high note: "Universal Studios treated the victim for his cuts." And OPD was there to help out, too; they gave him a victim's rights handbook.


April 30, 11:16 p.m.: There are days when it does not pay to get out of bed. Example: A 17-year-old man tried to take the bus home after a long day of work at Universal Studios, but got stranded at the station when the buses stopped running.

After exhausting his options, he decided to take a brisk walk from downtown Orlando to his residence in Apopka. He made it as far as the 500 block of Amelia Street when "three males, one black, one white and one Hispanic yelled to him at a distance and threatened to stab him if he would not give them his wallet," according to police reports.

The kid is bright; he ran back toward the bus station for help. But in pure B-movie style he tripped, fell and injured his right leg. He made it to the station before the bandits could catch him and stab him for his money.

But did he ever make it home? Yes, he did, thanks to one of Orlando's finest, who gave him a lift to Apopka.


May 1, 2:02 a.m.: While safes are cool things to steal, it really is too bad you can't X-ray them beforehand to see if boosting one is worth the trouble.

In this case, a 42-year-old witness observed two people exiting the Check On Hold on the 4700 block of East Michigan Street with something large in tow. Thinking this an odd activity to engage in at 2 a.m., the witness called police. She told them "while passing `the Mariners Shopping Complex`, she observed a dark red vehicle parked in front of the cash advance store with its lights on," according to reports. "`The witness` also stated that she saw two thin-built males pushing a black box toward the vehicle." Strange indeed.

A 32-year-old regional manager for the company appeared on the scene to answer questions. After checking the store, he found that the safe was missing. He told the cops that the safe contained checks, but no cash.


May 1, 4:46 a.m.: It's an old saw that you should never pee on an electric fence, but there's generally nothing to prohibit one from taking a leak behind an Albertson's supermarket. Nonetheless, this innocent act led to trouble for one 30-year-old man waiting for the store on the 5000 block of Curry Ford Road to open so he could make his magazine delivery.

According to police records, "`The victim` parked his truck and exited the vehicle and proceeded to relieve himself behind the Albertson's building." While relieving himself, he noted a black pickup truck speeding through the parking lot. He observed a man wearing a black ski mask get out of the passenger side of the pickup. The hooded dude ran through the bushes and descended on the victim, semi-automatic pistol in hand. Pointing the weapon at our victim, the masked man uttered this contradictory command: "Don't move, don't move, come here." The victim ignored both instructions and darted away from the scene. He heard at least three shots as he darted away, one of which struck him in the hip.

The masked man ran back to his truck and fled the scene. The victim mustered the strength to get back into his truck and drove to a nearby gas station to call police.

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