Sheriff's Calls

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An Offbeat Look at Area Crime


A kinder, gentler vandalism

WEST HAMPDEN PLACE — It was all mighty peculiar, the homeowner told deputies on the afternoon of Aug. 27. He’d arisen to find his neatly manicured and meticulously arranged yard downright disheveled. Under the concealing cloak of night, despoilers unknown had broken a couple of branches off a small bush, collected a handful of decorative river rocks and arranged them in a neat pile, and dislocated a loose 2-foot pipe section from its accustomed position on the ground in front of his barn to an apparently random position on the ground a few feet away. Most distressing, he said, small divots in the grass and the telltale presence of dirt on the displaced pipe led him to believe that the latter had been used to assault the former, though not with any great vigor, and to what end he couldn’t say. Officers advised the complainant that, because no monetary damages attached to the arguably innocuous attack, the best they could do was write it up as criminal tampering. That was just fine with the homeowner, who simply wanted the outrages recorded for posterity.


Stickin’ it to ‘The Man’

SOUTH OWENS STREET — By 11 p.m. Aug. 30 the neighbors had heard all they cared to and asked JCSO to pull the plug on the scream-fest going on down the street. Parking six houses away, deputies immediately detected the boom and crash of bad music played at full volume and the equally discordant noise of star-crossed lovers airing their romantic laundry before all the world. Since the couple wouldn’t allow officers into their fenced backyard, the deputies attempted to open a dialogue through the back gate. Alas, the strident sweethearts were not in a mood to listen, determinedly and delightedly shouting down the officials’ every suggestion that they take their music and their mutual malice inside where they belonged. It seemed to be the ear-piercing pair’s position that because “we pay your salary,” the deputies had no right to stifle a citizen’s free expression of profane personal disagreement. “Vietnam!” they yelled at the officers, repeatedly and for no obvious symbolic reason. “Call the cops! Call the cops!” they chanted, unnecessarily. Recognizing that their presence was only adding fuel to the roaring fire, the deputies at last retreated, only to return the next day with a thick sheaf of written neighbor complaints and fresh citation books in hand. Mister and Missus greeted them at the door politely, even amiably, and begged the officers’ pardon for their disgraceful performance the night before. They’d been entertaining guests from out of town, they explained, and things might have gotten ever so slightly out of hand. But that was the past, and it was a new day, and they promised to be good and respectful neighbors from that moment forward until the end of time. The officers applauded their new perspective, and commemorated the occasion with matching disorderly conduct citations. Mister and Missus protested vehemently but quietly, and, of course, unsuccessfully.


He has his pride, after all

WEST CANYON AVENUE — On the evening of Aug. 29, one R. Malph was taking his favorite short cut to the grocery store through the tire dealership parking lot when one A. Fonzarelli “shot out in front of” Malph on a motorcycle. Startled and miffed, Malph reproached Fonzarelli with a lengthy sermon on his car horn. Fonzarelli stopped his bike and returned fire, saying “all kinds of stuff,” none of it apologetic. Now startled, miffed, and filled with righteous anger, Malph got out of his vehicle, pulled a baseball bat out of the back seat and “just stood there,” tacitly daring Fonzarelli to make him use it. Perhaps not a sportsman, Fonzarelli promised to “beat up” Malph at a more convenient time and place, assuring him that “I know where you live.” Feeling startled, miffed, angry and threatened, Malph got back in his car and drove on to the grocery store, only to find Fonzarelli hot on his tail. Malph fled again, this time to a strip mall across the street, where Fonzarelli entertained himself by driving circles around his vehicle. Malph again exited his car, and the two men entertained a small crowd of bystanders with several minutes of manly tough talk and macho posturing before growing tired of the charade and going their separate ways. Later at home, Malph decided Fonzarelli’s actions and words amounted to criminal harassment and summoned a JCSO deputy. After listening to the whole testosterone-laden tale, the deputy decided that Malph’s getting out of his car with a baseball bat wasn’t any better. Malph explained that, “as a man,” he’d had no other choice, but as a taxpayer he wanted police protection from Fonzarelli. Since Malph had neglected to get Fonzarelli’s license plate number or other identifying information, the deputy offered to schedule an extra patrol of his neighborhood. In the end, Malph declined the offer, explaining that he couldn’t accept it “as a man.”