At least 10 percent of all incidents reported by the police are classified as "Suspicious Circumstances." These are incidents where the signs, the images, the sounds, the smells in the air, the face and posture of the suspect -- all point to a crime, to a break in the law. But no matter how hard the cop tries to figure it out, the actual illegal act remains nameless. It always happens like this: The cop sees the outline, the form of the crime, but is frustrated because he/she cannot determine its center, its visible body. "Damn!" the cop says, "I know it was here just a minute ago, but somehow it vanished, disappeared, eluded my keen eyes and rigorous investigative methods." Arrests are rarely made in "Suspicious Circumstance" incidents, but this could change if the cops reversed their approach or the way they read these incidents. In other words, they should not see "Suspicious Circumstances" as vague emanations from a body, a red-hot core, a crime that has just happened, but rather, the other way around: as drifting elements, the phantom form of a crime that is looking for a body -- or, better yet -- a moment to materialize and come to life on our city streets.

So Officer Fitzgerald and Officer Monner, if you want to solve a "Suspicious Circumstance," you have to follow these ghosts of crimes-that-will-be and capture them when they turn into tangible, grabbable bodies. To help in this difficult ghostbuster-like task, I have composed a short list of ghost crimes that, at particular moments, I think will become real crimes. All you have to do is keep an eye on them, and I'm certain you'll have some arrests in the near future. Case closed.

The Floating Safe/Elliott Bay/Wed Jan 19/ 10:00 am: Officer Fitzgerald was dispatched to Pier 50 at Alaska Way and Yesler, and met with a "boat crew" who saw and recovered a safe floating in Elliott Bay. One of the witnesses to this strange incident was a retired cop who now works for Washington State Ferries as a security guard. He explained to the officer that after carefully inspecting the wet safe, he decided something fishy was going on, and called in the cops. Officer Fitzgerald then inspected the safe, and decided to transport it to the West Precinct and submit it into evidence.

The Kids/Greenwood/Fri Jan 21/2:47 pm: Officer Kim observed two suspects prowling around a home on the SW corner of N 41st and Whitman Ave N. He stopped both suspects and approached them. They looked nervous. He asked them what they were doing. They stated they were doing nothing wrong; they were just going to a friend's house nearby. Though sensing something criminal was at the heart of all this, Officer Kim could only give them a warning and let them go.

The Box/Capitol Hill/Fri Jan 21: Officer Monner was dispatched to Fourth Ave and Stewart St to "investigate suspicious circumstances." Information on the call indicated a man named Martin had observed a box decorated with anarchy symbols hanging from a tree. Upon arrival, Officer Monner looked at the box and saw it was taped shut and tied to the tree limb approximately 12 feet off the ground. Perplexed, he requested that "a supervisor respond." Sgt. Fogassy responded and examined the box from the ground. After some moments of quiet thought, he decided it was best to leave the box where it was.

"What Happened?"/University District/Sun Jan 23/10:00 pm: Officer Whitcomb was monitoring the closing of the Lox Stock nightclub when he heard a man fall to the ground. He ran to the sight of the incident and found an unconscious man lying on the sidewalk. There were 20 or so people standing around his lifeless form, smoking cigarettes and murmuring. Officer Whitcomb asked them "What happened?" "Who did this?" "Did anyone see anything?" But no one responded, except one soul who said, "I didn't see anything." At that moment, the body regained consciousness, and Officer Whitcomb asked him whether he had simply fallen face-first to the ground or was deliberately hit by someone. The man answered, "I don't know." In the end, all the officer could do was hand him a case number and call for an ambulance to transport him to Harborview.