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AUG. 7, 10 P.M.: A 71-year-old woman was sound asleep in her bed in the 1100 block of Overbrook Drive when a stranger crept toward her residence. The locked, chain-linked fence surrounding the home-sweet-home was found in pristine shape the following day, suggesting our suspect possessed spider-like climbing skills. Luckily for the elderly woman, this agile lurker meant no harm.

      The suspect entered an unlocked playroom equipped with a wet bar and a game room – perhaps where this septuagenarian threw occasional all-nighters – that was attached to the garage. Before exploring any further, the burglar treated himself/herself to a frosty bottle of Budweiser beer from a refrigerator and later stashed the empty bottle in a cabinet. The curious suspect opened a number of cabinets and peeped inside, but nothing was taken. Reports don't include the playroom's contents, but it's quite possible the stranger indulged in a game of pool or a speedy round of darts before leaving the scene for good.

      It's too bad more O-town burglars aren't satisfied with a Bud and a quick playroom peek.

AUG. 3, 11:06 P.M.: What goes with a boosted beer? Purloined pizza, of course.

      When a delivery man at a local pizza shop received orders to deliver a fresh, $17.95 pie to an apartment complex in the 5200 block of Long Road, he hopped in his auto and made haste. Upon arrival, the delivery dude walked through a breezeway at the complex and noted a 6-foot-tall man standing directly across from the pizza drop-off spot. Perhaps the man looked hungry, because the pizza carrier asked him if he'd ordered the pie, police reports state. It turns out he hadn't, as evidenced by the fact that the lurker pulled out a handgun and pointed it at the delivery man, demanding both the pie and his wallet.

      The delivery guy complied. Lying face down on the floor, he heard the burglar race off to eat.

AUG. 3, 8:30 P.M.: Sometimes, criminals simply resort to brute force to get their dirty deeds done.

      As the final hints of daylight faded to black, a man broke into a business in the 3600 block of Columbia Street by smashing its cinder-block wall open with a hammer. He crawled through the sizable hole he'd sculpted and headed straight for the counter, where he stuffed coins and Newport Menthol cigarettes into his pants' cargo


      At some point during the smash-and-grab fest the suspect realized he was being videotaped by a surveillance camera, and threw a pair of shorts over his head to help conceal his identity. Then he crawled back out the hole he had created.

      Total gain: cancer sticks, change and a pair of shorts. It seems like a poor return on the investment of tunneling through a block wall, a tactic which, by the way, is popular among Orlando criminals.

AUG. 3, 1 P.M.: A 19-year-old woman was getting ready to move to Chicago. She'd stuffed all of her belongings into five bulging bags, then made a swift stop at a check-

cashing store in the 4400 block of South Semoran Boulevard to pick up some money that had been wired to her before heading to the airport. The young woman was accompanied by her most trusted buddies – or so she thought.

      The plan: Her faithful amigos were to guard the luggage stashed inside the car while she collected the funds.

      But with friends like these, this unfortunate victim does not need enemies. The teenager could only watch as her "buds" peeled out of the check-cashing store's lot, honking their horn as they went. They sped away with the kind of treasures most 19-year-olds do not lug on airplanes, because they don't own them:

a white-gold ring sporting a princess-cut diamond and two matching bands with diamonds, valued at $2,500; a $700 ruby ring; and $5,000 worth of miscellaneous gold, silver, pearl and diamond jewelry.

      This author suggests the young woman try to make better friends in the Windy City.

JULY 27, 3:45 P.M.: Finally, we end this week's parade of crime with proof that burglars aren't only snoopy, but often heartless.

    In broad daylight, a suspect or suspects entered the south building of a business on the 1600 block of Aaron Avenue.

     Inside, the burglar(s) pried open the door to a storage room containing business supplies and bags packed with cash donations. The booty was in 10 bank bags, each fattened with coins totaling approximately $50 per sack-o'-loot.

     What the burglar(s) may or may not have known was that the money belonged to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. As a result of this heartless crime, it's entirely possible that an 8-year-old Idaho girl with a brain tumor will never get her final wish to meet American Idol Kelly Clarkson. Burglars are bastards.

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