I was driving north on The 15 to Harrah’s Resort yesterday morning to give a presentation as to why the casino should invest millions in advertising with PacificSD (Gretchen, just so you know, we’d be thrilled with half that amount ;-), when my “excessive rate of speed,” as the motorcycle cop who pulled me over described it, reached 82 miles per hour.
I swear I was going 81.
As I watched the officer writing the ticket, I felt lucky. Pissed, but lucky. You see, a couple of the highway patrolman’s fellow members of the bulletproof cloth recently became my heroes.
It was a dark and steamy night about 10 days ago...
Ping! Ping! Is that the sound of broken glass? Nope, it’s my iPhone 5s (the 6 is in the mail), alerting me that some unknown somebody is calling me - at 1:45 a.m. Certain I wasn’t missing any good news, I muted the ringer and went back to sleep.
The next morning, I checked my voicemail. The message was from a lieutenant with the Chula Vista Police Department, letting me know that he and his partner had found Packy, PacificSD‘s long-lost Kearny Mesa FIAT 500L, who had been stolen three weeks earlier. No way!
Yes way. There was even a stake out.
The guy who left the voicemail, let’s call him Agent X (he asked me not to use his real name, and I certainly don’t need anymore speeding tickets), is a member of RATT, San Diego’s Regional Auto Theft Team. When I returned his call, he told me that he and his partner had been doing investigative work in Chula Vista the night before when a man stepped out of a white FIAT without license plates (Packy is so new, she still doesn’t have tags), saw Agent X and his partner and took off on foot.
The RATT pack didn’t chase the suspect. Instead, they walked over to the FIAT to check its VIN (vehicle identification number). Realizing it was stolen (OMG, Packy! You must have been so scared), they repositioned their unmarked vehicle and staked out the car. It was 8:00 p.m.
At 1:00 a.m., a different man appeared, got in the car and drove away. Team RATT followed unnoticed as the man drove to a Chula Vista restaurant, where he picked up the original driver. Once the two were in the car and moving again, the cops pulled them over and arrested them.
Don’t eff with RATT!
Agent X asked me to meet him at the impound lot in National City to see if any items found inside the vehicle belonged to me. When I arrived, I spotted Packy. She looked okay from the outside, but I could tell she was crying on the inside.
And I was right. Packy smelled like five criminals had smoked cigarettes inside her with the windows up for three weeks. On the day she was stolen, she had less than 300 miles on her. Now, her odometer read 2,600, her engine and airbag lights were illuminated on the dash, and she smelled like shit.
Nothing inside belonged to me. There was a pair of jeans, an empty shampoo bottle and some fake diamond earring studs. There was also a backpack filled with manila folders, each containing a driver’s license or credit card or personal documents - or all three. Turns out the guys he arrested had criminal records, Agent X told me, and they were identity thieves.
With the windows down and hoping the airbag wouldn’t explode in my face, I drove the car to where I had first set eyes on her. This morning, the caring Kearny Mesa FIAT pit crew called to tell me Packy is ready to come home. They fixed her up, gave her a much-needed bath and made her smell like new.
I hereby salute Agent X and the rest of RATT, an incredible group of brave police officers, sheriff ‘s deputies and special agents from the FBI. Their efforts helped reduce the county’s incidence of auto theft by 36 percent from 2006 to 2010, and they found our dearest Packy (which I kinda wish they hadn’t, given her smell and mileage).
When the motorcycle cop returned to my car, he told me he was going to let me go with a warning. No way! I love the police - maybe I’ll be sexy a cop for Halloween. Or a rat. (Now please stop pulling me over.)