One of my favorite sources of entertainment here in northeast Mississippi is my local newspaper, the Daily Journal, and not just for the typos. The daily crime blotter includes “police reports” from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and the Tupelo Police Department, consisting of random complaints that I suspect are gathering dust in a file somewhere because there is no mention of the complainant actually filing any criminal charges. None of these whiners is even identified by name – only by the street or road where they live.
The first item to catch my attention naturally focused on the most stereotypically Southern sort of shenanigans that could happen around these parts. A County Road 1559 Nettleton man took time out of his day to complain to the sheriff that “a family member is bootlegging moonshine out of his dead mother’s house,” the Daily Journal dutifully reported. I suppose County Road 1559 Nettleton Man might otherwise have turned a blind eye to this illicit activity if it weren’t besmirching the memory of the family matriarch. The report doesn’t say whether the dearly departed was rolling in her grave, however, so some questions are just going to have to remain unanswered.
Now that I’m a loyal reader of these brief dispatches, I’ve identified an alarming trend involving an altogether different type of malfeasance – the County Road 1234 Joe or Jane who gets victimized by lending something of value to a friend, a neighbor, or some random person off the street, and shockingly, never getting it back. Or, in a related “no good deed goes unpunished” category, a favor of shelter extended to a purported friend or a relative of a friend is rewarded with property theft. It may be nearly five years since I practiced journalism, but I remember the “rule of three” for newspaper trend stories: If the same sort of thing happens at least three times within whatever time period you decide is relevant, it’s a trend. BOOM.
Because I apparently have to do the Daily Journal’s job for itself when it comes to trendspotting, let me offer several recent examples from the past two weeks to support my hypothesis that people wasting their time doing favors for undeserving jerks who are only going to rip them off anyway is indeed a trend that someone – I don’t know who – ought to be concerned about:
- March 2: “A 25-year-old Tupelo man said he let his 38-year-old ex-girlfriend borrow his 2001 Ford Explorer to move some of her property and now she will not give it back.”
- March 4: “A Meeks Street woman said she let a friend’s son stay at her house while she and her friends were gone for the weekend. When she returned, she noticed that $55 was missing from her wallet.”
- March 4: “A Clayton Avenue man said he gave a Baldwyn man $250 to buy parts to fix the air conditioning unit at a Trace Avenue house. He has not seen or heard from the suspect in three weeks.”
- March 7: “A Highway 370 Baldwyn woman said she loaned her 2009 Toyota Yaris to a 34-year-old man ‘to go somewhere real quick.’ Five days later, he still had not returned the vehicle.”
- March 8: “A Bryan Street Guntown woman said when her daughter was arrested, she let a friend drive the car home to keep it from being towed. The car is now missing, along with the daughter’s jewelry.”
- March 8: “A Clayton Avenue woman said she let a female friend stay with her for a while. After the friend left, she noticed that her debit card, iPhone 6 Plus and a new Auburn University shirt was (sic) missing.”
- March 10: “A County Road 1282 woman let someone borrow her 1992 GMC pickup for one day. Three weeks later, they have not returned the vehicle. She heard they traded it for drugs and it is now painted primer gray.”
The lesson any 5-year-old can learn from perusing the Daily Journal’s crime blotter is to exercise some discernment about letting other people handle your personal property. For instance, my wildly speculative guess about the fate of Highway 370 Baldwyn Woman’s Yaris is that the “real quick” part related to the borrower’s urgent need to commit a felony, and he is now a fugitive. Congratulations, Highway 370 Baldwyn Woman, you’ve just become an accessory before the fact, according to me.
We also have to ask ourselves, what’s the deal with Bryan Street Guntown Woman’s daughter? Why should we feel sorry for her? What did she do to get arrested? If that hadn’t happened, she wouldn’t have had to let the car (Mom’s car, perhaps?) out of her sight. Was the jewelry in the car? What kind of idiot keeps their jewelry in their car??? Or did the “friend” drive it home for just long enough to help him/herself to the daughter’s jewelry because he/she had access to the house key? So many questions raised by these two simple sentences.
This all probably could have been avoided if Bryan Street Guntown Woman had raised her daughter better so she wouldn’t get in trouble with the law in the first place. Since I don’t have the advanced degree required to play armchair family psychologist, however, let me simply say: Next time (and there probably will be a next time), just suck it up and pay the towing fee already.
But if I ever see a primer gray 1992 GMC pickup tooling around town, I should be a good citizen and figure out a way to let County Road 1282 Woman know.