[Jul. 22nd, 2005|09:24 am]

So, for the last few weeks, my office’s daily copies of The New York Times (and sometimes the copy of The Austin American-Statesman, too) have been being stolen in the morning. At first we just thought they weren’t being delivered, but the circulation supervisor finally came around 5:50 one morning to make sure our paper was there and it was (thus proving that his deliveryman wasn’t to blame). We already knew this. That same morning, the deliveryman had tied the two papers together (the NYT and the AA-S), but apparently the thief only wanted the NYT that day and thus ripped it apart from the AA-S. We saw the tell-tale blue NYT wrapping paper left in the knot with the AA-S when we arrived at the office.

At first, we assumed it was one of the people from the offices next door. So we had the deliveryman deliver them to the front door. The next day they were there. The day after that, they were gone. The thief was determined. When the circulation supervisor called again, I told him the story. We were fucked. We had to think of a good place to put the papers — no one in the office wanted to come in at six every morning to pick up our papers. The office doesn’t open till nine.

I decided to stage an early morning observe-and-attempt-capture operation. This morning, I woke at 0530 and went to the office. I retrieved the papers from the front porch of the office and put them in the middle of a patch of light near our office’s sidedoor (the door we actually use). The window in the kitchen (from which I’d planned to observe the thief) was fogged up due to the humidity (even after I wiped it off), so I moved to our disabled-entry porch, which is protected by a bit of foliage cover from some bushes. I lay on my stomach in the prone position for a while, but knew that my back was open to the office behind me. If someone on its staff happened to be the thief, he or she might see me and know not to come out. Possibly just my being there would have been enough deterrent for them to attempt any further thefts, but maybe not. I decided to get underneath the porch, which provided even better cover in the front and reduced my visibility to the office behind me.

Numerous cars stopped — thus raising my suspicions, but they either spotted me or were not common thieves.

Around 0730, a suspicious individual (late 40s, early 50s; white hair; appr. 5’7″; white shirt; grey-to-black running shorts) entered view on Oakland from Sixth Street. He stopped on the sidewalk across the street from our office. He looked around. He walked over to a garbage area under a porch on the other side of the street and retrieved an unformed cardboard box. He then stopped again on the sidewalk and looked around. He crossed the street and stood before the papers. He checked his surroundings again. He bent over to pick up the papers. I say, moving from under the porch, “Excuse me, sir.” He takes off running, throwing the papers into the bushes next to our side porch. (Damn rocks!)

I pursued the thief down the alley between Oakland and Pressler. He dumped his cardboard box in a trashcan on the far side of Pressler and continued down another alley. I continued in pursuit. He had turned onto Sixth Street when I caught view of him again and he took off again. I continued running a little farther, shouting various obscenities at him. I attempted to get a picture of him, but the camera wasn’t charged well.

I watched him from the south sidewalk on Sixth. He walked toward Swedish Hill Bakery and crossed onto the north side. A few times, he attempted to walk back toward our way, but when he saw me, he turned back. After retrieving the papers and locking the office but before leaving the vicinity, I checked inside Swedish Hill for him and drove through briefly through the neighborhood surrounding there. No sign of him. I left.

Returned home at around 0815. Operation deemed successful.

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