The Locus of Crime/Central District/Wed Aug 9/8:00 pm: Tonight while walking home, Police Beat saw two men get jumped on the corner of 20th and Cherry, and beaten up by a pack of marauding teenagers. It all happened very quickly: One second, kicks and fists were flying; the next, two men were stumbling around in the street, asking witnesses to call the cops. I gave the dazed men my cell phone so they could call the police. After they'd made their report, one of them, who had a wound on his forehead, said to me, "Man, this neighborhood is bad!" I disagree with this rather rash assessment. The Central District is not that bad, it's not the locus of crime in our city--especially when you consider the terrible, animal-inspired crimes that thrive at Woodland Park Zoo. Take for example the following report, which was made on Saturday, July 29.

Just before midnight, Officer Meyers received a report that a naked man was standing on an island in the penguin exhibit. When zoo security informed the naked man that he was in a restricted area, he dove into the penguin pool and swam out of sight. Zoo security found and followed some wet footprints that led to yet another restricted animal area (the report fails to mention which animals occupied this enclosure), where they discovered a pile of clothes. Zoo security searched these clothes and found a Washington state driver's license for a man who lives in Monroe. Zoo security collected the man's property and handed it over to the investigating officer.

When Officer Meyers checked the naked man's name on the cop computer, it produced this list of crimes: On November 23, 1993, he failed to produce proof of car insurance when stopped during a routine check; on October 5, 1994, he drove around the city without a license; on April 12, 1995, he again failed to produce proof of insurance when stopped during a routine check; and on May 22, 2000, he drove around the city with an expired vehicle license. This list of car crimes inspired Officer Meyers to check out the zoo's parking lot to see if the nudist had abandoned his vehicle there. Sure enough, Officer Meyers found a VW van belonging to none other than the man from Monroe. Officer Meyers placed a watch on the VW van, and two hours later a fully dressed man walked up to the VW and attempted to enter it. The clothed nudist was placed under arrest and transported to the North Precinct.

Now tell me sir, could a crime like that happen in the C.D.? No! And thank God for that, because imagine if there were a zoo in the C.D., and the caged penguins were standing around giving off bad vibes and inspiring us to do evil things? Could you imagine that?

The wounded man thanked me for the use of my cell phone and walked home.

Burger Crime/Aurora/Sat Aug 12/11:35 pm: Today, a waitress at Burgermaster--a drive-in on Aurora--served a hamburger meal to an unknown man sitting in a red '80s corvette. He devoured his meal as he loudly talked on his cell phone. All of a sudden, the man drove off without paying, and took the tray with him. Luckily, the waitress got his license number, which, when checked by Officer Porter on the cop computer, proved to fit the description she gave of the car and the driver. The waitress said she could definitely identify the burger thief if she saw him again, and told the reporting officer that because she only works part-time at Burgermaster, the better place to contact her would be at Mayor Schell's office, where she has a full-time job as his assistant.

The mayor's assistant said she knew this was not "the crime of the century," but nevertheless wanted the cops to catch the man and convict him. Officer Porter got the message and gave the mayor's assistant a case number.