Monday, August 29, 2005

Retired Cop Made Keys For Getaway Car

That’s how the headline would read in the newspaper. The facts would have been accurate too. This evening I got a call from one of my car dealership service department folks asking if I would go make a key for one of their customers. Their parts department had closed and so, even with the key code and all the proper identification required, it would do them no good because there was nobody around to cut the key.

The woman asked if I could pick up her nephew on the way, that she would follow along because he knew exactly where the car was parked from when he lost the keys the day before. He had his driver’s license along with the printed information showing the key code, vehicle identification number and it looked like it would be a quick job.

I drove right to the vehicle, following his instructions, and upon turning the corner I noticed that a police car was parked directly behind the “customer’s vehicle”. I noticed a pale look on the young man’s face, even so, I had seen the proof of ownership and so I asked the officer sitting in his car what was going on.

“That vehicle was used in a robbery yesterday and I’m waiting on instructions.” A robbery; that’s interesting, I thought to myself. I asked the officer if I could work on the vehicle, not wanting to disturb evidence. “No, just stay over there until I find out what to do with it. I hadn’t planned on anyone coming back for it.” I could tell by the way he eye balled my “customer” that he knew him. It turned out that my “customer” was one of those who had been arrested yesterday after a long foot chase that included a jump in the bayou in an attempt to get away from the officers.

The nice thing about evening shift officers is that they love a good chase, even more if they get to complain later on about getting soaked or muddy from having to dive in after the bad guys. The officer was wearing military style boots instead of dress oxfords, had a Taser as part of the Sam Brown equipment, a spare set of handcuffs on the belt; in short, he had the appearance of a real street cop who enjoyed working evening shift.

I stood back and watched the officer as he went through several pink booking slips, one of which had my “customer’s” name on it. There had been a series of break ins and robberies involving several suspects; enough so that the Department was checking into the possibility of going after them as an organized crime unit rather than unrelated cases. If that were the case then the vehicle could, and very well might be, hauled off and could end up being auctioned off as part of the State’s effort to make it tougher on criminals and their friends.

I went ahead and made the key from the code information while waiting. That part I could do without going any where near the “customer’s vehicle”. I showed the untried key to the officer, asking if he would try it in the locks so that I could be on my way. He was not entirely happy that I was bothering him again. I showed him my retired officer identification along with my business card and explained that I was willing to wait; however, I did expect to get paid for cutting a key regardless of how he intended to proceed. My concern had nothing to do with catching bad guys, only to find out if the key code was good and that the key did in fact operate the locks. He walked toward the vehicle while putting on his gloves, holding the key I’d made in his hand. He wanted to say something to me and thought better of it; instead, he turned his attention to the young man standing behind my truck, the “customer”.

“So, how much did it cost to get out on bond?”, he smiled and knew that things were falling into place. It turned out that one of the other suspects who’d been caught decided to spill the beans and told the officer all about where to find the get away car, what kind of vehicle, who it belonged to and that was why he was parked there when I drove up.

The officer was a bit curious as to how I was able to cut a key, one that worked so well in all the locks without ever touching the vehicle. I explained the part about having glanced at the key code and satisfied him that I was good at what I did. I collected my money and left the “customer” with his vehicle; the officer still in control of the key. I’d be plenty surprised if the “customer” ever got to use that key I made since I saw a wrecker pulling up as I left; what a shame.

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