Police Beat

JAN. 3, 11:30 A.M.: Remember last week's column? The one; in which a prostitute stole a slumbering man's wallet? Well, it appears someone; may have been taking notes, as we have a suspiciously similar crime on our; hands this week.

The victim: A 56-year-old man, perhaps too; gullible. The suspect: A "drug-addicted prostitute," 20 years old, according to; police reports. The location: a house in the 2800 block of West Arlington; Street. After crashing at the man's house for a couple of days, the call girl; slipped outdoors to make a phone call. On her way out, she left the door; cracked open. While the chippie chatted, most curiously, a stranger found his; way inside the home through the open doorway. Surprising? I think not.

Upon greeting our victim, the stranger ordered him; to hand over all his cash, then pushed him onto a bed.

"I do not have any money," the victim screamed.; This turned out to be a prevarication, as a severe pistol whipping to the face; revealed. The victim, in fact, had $597 in cash, a cell phone and a wallet in; his pockets. The suspect fled the scene. The strumpet? Not seen again.

JAN. 3, 7 A.M.: Over the holidays, an elementary school; in the 400 block of North Tampa Avenue was broken into, perhaps by a hooligan; or hooligans embittered by the impending start of the spring semester. A window; was smashed, creating $500 worth of damage right off the bat. Inside, two; reptiles — a rat snake and a lizard — were kidnapped from the class aquarium.; And you can bet there were some disappointed little faces when the semester; began anew.

DEC. 31, 5 P.M.: Seriously, some burglars really know how; to top things off. At some point on New Year's Eve, a burglar or burglars broke; into a home in the 7200 block of Chelsea Harbour Drive. The home, locked and; secured, is still under construction. Upon discovering such an anomaly, this; author presumes, the burglar or burglars became very ill-tempered. There were; no laptops, gold rings or even frozen foodstuffs to steal. What to do? Damage; stuff, that's what.

The burglar or burglars headed for the bathrooms,; where they plugged the tubs with stoppers. Then they turned on the faucets.; Then things got really messy.

After two solid, soggy days of running water, our; not environmentally conscious suspect or suspects managed to cause an estimated; $15,000 worth of damages to the vacant home, and waste an awful lot of; perfectly good water.

DEC. 26, 11 A.M.: A woman, 30, and her husband were; enjoying a morning stroll through an apartment complex in the 4800 block of Raleigh; Street. This walk, however, came to a screeching halt when a group of; approximately 15 men, ranging in age from 18 to 25, approached the pair.; Immediately, the couple scrambled for safety, trying to walk around the; menacing apartment-lot congregation. This did not work. The duo was soon; cornered, and one of the men began grabbing and pulling at the woman's purse.

But instead of simply handing her handbag over, the; brave lady catapulted it and its contents into a patch of nearby bushes. Much; like a Labrador retriever, the purse snatcher bounded toward the brush, fetched; the purse and fled the scene on foot with his pack of cronies.

DEC. 25, 5:30 A.M.: A pizza joint was broken into on; Christmas day. For once, however, bubbly pies were not on the burglar's or; burglars' agenda. Our suspect or suspects obtained entry by unknown means. Once; indoors, amidst mounds of kneaded dough and refrigerated toppings, the burglar; or burglars hatched an ambitious plan: removing cash from an ATM.

The mammoth $7,000 apparatus was ripped from the; wooden floor to which it was bolted, causing a hefty $1,000 in damage. After; that Herculean endeavor, one of the perps took a hammer to the hapless; dispenser of cash, cracking it into pieces like a piggy bank. These determined; criminals got what they were after: $3,500 in cash, and another $500 from the; cash register. Then they took off out the back door.

DEC. 23, 4 P.M.: Stay seated, I have yet another tale of; sabotage to share with you.

Tonight's burglar or burglars broke into an unalarmed; business by prying the front door open. The usual goods were heisted — in this; case, a computer tower and a flat-screen monitor, plus another computer and its; attachments, all estimated to be worth $2,000. The night, however, was young.

Seizing the moment with full carpe diem spirit, the; suspect or suspects discharged the chemicals within one fire extinguisher; throughout the entire business' walls. Tack on another $1,000 of damages.

Most curiously, "The extinguisher used is not the; one belonging to the office, so it appears the suspect(s) brought the; extinguisher with them," police reports state. Now that's crooked.

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