Cops, Crime, Chickens, Cats, Christmas
and a Pet Columnist!
- Unique Christmas Story! -

Photo by Ariel Schesser
A routine cat-combing session erupted into an adventure involving the police, a wanted criminal, and chickens!  Crime fighters Mary Ellen 'AngelScribe' and Nymbus alerted police to a cat burglar pawing through cars! Police Chief Mike Grover holds a much calmed down Blackberry after the police-criminal pursuit of "911 Hide and Seek."


WOW...or is that ME-w-OW?  You don't have to leave your home to contribute to society, and 8 AM is definitely too early to have the 'egg-citement' of catching a jail bird! Young mothers were walking their children to school when something unusual caught my eye.

Usually at this time, I would be in the office, working on a new Pet Column, but I was still in the living room combing fleas off a cranky cat.

I saw a young woman approach the neighbor's white vehicle and climb inside.  She sat there warming herself for six minutes. I watched closely; a tad suspicious.  Was she a friend of the neighbor's--or not?!

When she climbed out and slinked into their second unlocked vehicle, I dialed 911and reported a burglary in progress!  Being the neighborhood's Guardian Angel, and stopping crimes before breakfast, by catching a "car clouter" (someone who illegally enters a vehicle for the purpose of theft) was not my usual morning ritual!
I relayed the details to the 911 operator as the thief appeared to rob their second vehicle, then got out of the car, and walked down to the next neighbor's driveway.  Her big black purse, full of stolen evidence, appeared too heavy to carry!  She was shifting her black coat as if something new was freshly hidden under it. Then, she casually climbed into the other neighbor's unlocked red truck, leaned over to the glove compartment, and looked for something to catch her fancy!

Once done 'shopping' she walked across the street and tried to enter my locked car! It was frightening! This was too close for comfort!  Then the totally unexpected happened!

She saw the first of three police cruisers speeding in her direction, so she took off running...into our backyard! Thankfully, we keep our doors securely locked, even when we are at home, or she may have entered!

The police officers jumped from their vehicles and took off after her.  Our chickens ran in seven different directions, not used to the cop and criminal game of "911Hide and Seek"!

Initially, they were too chicken to alert the police to the car clouter's hiding location!  Officer Gagner finally caught the red-headed thief, red-handed, crouched down in the chickens' shed. She stashed her purse, laden with stolen goods, amongst the chicken feed.

(Note: None of the hens were hurt during the arrest, but they were left in a "fowl mood").

The police were thrilled to catch this particular crook for the sake of the community. She was arrested, handcuffed and taken to jail. The evidence in her purse solved a string of crimes! She single-handedly had disrupted many hard-working citizens' lives.  She was a one-woman crime wave, robbing unlocked vehicles, all night long.  Luckily, the 'cat-astrophy' of this Grinch wrecking any more Christmas's was averted!  She created lots of paperwork for the officers; but catching her closed the book on dozens of crimes.

Because of this neighborhood watch-dog, a thief is now in the 'dog-house'--errrrr jail house! 

The long tale of her criminal life began at the age of eleven and since then she has had 168 contacts with the Cottage Grove Police. At the time of her arrest, both Douglas and Lane Counties had warrants out for her arrest.  The police department believes she is responsible for most of the car clouts in Cottage Grove for the last 1- months.  This time, with evidence in hand, she was charged with 19 counts of car clouting.

Humor, alliteration and a happy ending prompted Trish a Tips 'n' Tales reader in Sisters, Oregon to say, "Redheaded cat-burglar gets caught red-handed by the cat-lady. This proves that everyday citizens can help the police solve crimes, even in their fuzzy slippers!"


Humans: Lock your vehicles!  Simply: "Push the button!"

- The world is a different place now. Drugs have invaded communities and desperate unemployed thieves are getting creative. Locks go up and down.  You paid for them when you bought your vehicle.  Use them!  Have the locks serve the purpose for which they were invented, i.e.-- to prevent roving thieves from treating your vehicle like their personal store or driving their 'new' car away!

- On cold nights, thieves needing a shower are warming up and sleeping in unlocked cars while enjoying cigarettes and extinguishing them anywhere they want. 

- Since thieves do not have latrines your unlocked vehicle becomes their personal litter box.

- You certainly don't want to jump into your vehicle and discover you are not alone! Locking your vehicle prevents gross surprises and uninvited passengers!

- Leaving keys and garage-door clickers in your vehicle offers thieves access into your home.

- Paperwork in vehicles offers thieves a chance for identity theft!   Articles locked in car trunks are not safe.  The trunk's latch or remote release is accessible from the front of the car!

- Adopt a dog.  Dogs act as an early warning burglar systems and are always on guard!

PETS: A Furminator pet brush is a magical grooming tool. It removes dead fur from your pet's outer coat, preventing fur balls and your cat from consuming excess fur which creates inside fur balls.  Trim long-furred pets' underarms and bellies to inch to prevent matting.

- Fleas use animals' arm pits as nesting areas.  Trimming under arm fur prevents masses of knotted fur later.  Always put your fingers next to the pet's skin when cutting a fur ball, and place the scissors on top of your fingers to prevent clipping their skin.
VIDEO: Animals singing Deck The Halls...very funny!

Shopping Safety Tips
 - Courtesy of the Cottage Grove Police Department -
- Don't shop alone. Shop with friends or family.

- Never display or carry large amounts of cash.

- If carrying a purse, select one that will fit comfortably under your arm and hold it close to
your body facing toward you. If you can, wear your purse under your coat or jacket.

- Carry cash or your wallet in your front pocket. By placing a rubber band around your
wallet, you will make it more difficult to remove.

- Carry only a few blank checks, not your entire checkbook. Make sure to note the
numbers on the checks.

- When examining an item for purchase or trying on clothes, never leave packages or your
purse out of your sight or reach.

- Do not leave young children unattended.

- Lock all packages in the trunk of your car rather than leaving them on the seat.

- If you think you will be shopping after dark, park you car in a well-lit area and as close to
your destination as possible. Try to do your shopping during daylight hours.

- Avoid carrying large, heavy packages that block your vision and make you a target.

- Always have your car key ready when returning to your car. As you approach your car,
check between the surrounding cars to be sure no one is lurking. If there is, turn around
and go back to the store.

- Always look inside your car before getting in. Once inside, lock all car doors.

- Always keep your garage door down.  An open door offers thieves direct access into your home.
Holiday Awareness
- Crime Prevention Association of Oregon -
Holiday shopping is one of the busiest times of the year for you and for criminals.

Crimes of opportunity peak during November and December because so many people are out and and not paying attention to who is around them.

Prepare for the holidays with basic crime prevention tips to help minimize your chances of being victimized.

**Be aware of the people around you. Some are only out to intentionally commit crimes!

**Always keep a hand on your wallet or purse. Many purses are stolen out of shopping carts when an unsuspecting shopper turns her back or walks away from the cart momentarily.

**If your purse or wallet is stolen, immediately phone your credit card companies and the bank! Thieves do the most damage the first couple of hours after stealing these items.

**Keep an eye on your purchases. Purses and bags with paid merchandise are often taken out of shopping carts, benches or restrooms if left unattended even for a moment.

**Most thieves pick out their targets before committing a crime. They don't want to get caught so they choose victims who aren't paying attention and who may not notice something is missing from a purse or packages. Criminals don't like to be noticed or remembered. They may decide against the person who has looked at them and said, "Hello", and move on to someone who is not as aware.

Vacation Guidelines
Whether on extended vacation or a away for only a few days these safety precautions will minimize your chances of being a victim of crime.

** Always keep your vehicle locked and the windows up when not in it!

** Thieves target cars at rest areas. Park close to the restroom or picnic area. If it's dark, park in a well lit and populated areas.

** At a rest area: Always take your purse or wallet with you. Valuables such as cameras, camcorders or computers are inviting to dishonest individuals.  Keep in the trunk, or covered in a black plastic bag.

** ALWAYS lock your car, so you are not victimized by the time you get back. If your car is full of Christmas presents, go to the restroom in shifts, leaving one person with the car.

** When checking into a hotel/motel, park in well lit populated areas. Ask for a room
close to where you parked so you can keep an eye on your vehicle. When unpacking, never leave the trunk or doors open or unlocked between trips. Opportunistic criminals take advantage of open vehicles.

** Use Traveler's checks whenever possible.

** Minimize the amount of cash you carry. Keep your wallet or purse on you at all times. Thieves target tourist sites where they know vacationers are probably not as vigilant as usual. These bad guys/gals watch for people leaving valuables unattended while in the pool, or putting on ski equipment, taking photos of each other, or falling asleep while sunning themselves.

**Leave valuables in your room--preferably a safe.

**Be aware of the people around you. If you notice anything or anyone suspicious, report them immediately to the hotel personnel.

**If you walk or go out at night, stick to populated areas. Be knowledgeable of the culture of the area--talk to employees from your hotel or a nearby business. Find out if it is safe to be in particular places at night.

** When settling into your room, make sure all the door and window locks are in working order.

** Have your family walk the route to the nearest fire exit. Reinforce with the children how to stay low to the ground if there is smoke. If going to a restaurant or night club, look around as you enter. Note where the fire exits are located.

** At home, follow the same burglary prevention rules as you would during vacation time.

** Residential burglaries increase during the holidays because more people are away and there is more "booty" around the home, namely Christmas presents.

** Limit the number of presents under your tree until Christmas Eve.  Prevent thieves from looking into your home and seeing what is under your tree!

** Store presents in a closet or an out-of-the way place.

** If away during the holidays, have a friend/neighbor pick up your paper/mail, open/close blinds/curtains, turn on/off different lights, radios or TVs. Timers are effective too.

** Have a neighbor park in your driveway at different times.

** Don't leave your porch light on the entire time you are gone. Have a neighbor turn it on at night and off in the morning. Porch lights on during the day are a sign that no one is home!
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Mary Ellen and Nymbus...Holiday movie stars
Mary Ellen & Nymbus
Pet Tips 'n' Tales Columnist
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