Being a cat is not as easy as you might think. Our 12-year-old cat Jezebelle likes to wander through our front yard with occasional sojourns into other neighborhood yards. This tiny, affectionate kitty is known and loved by everyone on the block.
A couple of weeks ago I went on a hike. As I was returning home, my partner Herb and I received a text from a neighbor: "A man just tried to steal Jezebelle. She escaped. The man sped away in a red van, license number 7....."
I ran home and called for Jezebelle, who came running from a few houses away. I put her in the house for safe keeping.
Meanwhile, Herb called the police and reported what had happened. The police talked to our neighbor and looked up the license plate. The officer told Herb that they had encountered the man before and that he lives in his van.
He asked if Herb wanted to press charges. Herb responded that he had compassion for the man's plight and wanted first to learn what the man had to say for himself. Herb hung up and told his concerned and bewildered coworkers the news.
The next morning on this way to work, Herb saw a red van parked three blocks from the police station. He stopped to check the license plate. It was the same van!
He called the police and talked to the dispatcher.
"I'm calling about the man who tried to steal my cat yesterday."
"You're calling about what?"
"My cat. A man tried to steal my cat, and I see his van."
"This is the police department. Are you sure you have the right number?"
"Yes, I talked to an officer yesterday, and there's a police report. He's just three blocks from your office. If you send someone now, you can still intercept him."
The dispatcher made Herb go through the whole story again until she understood the situation. An officer was dispatched. By then, of course, the van was gone.
A few minutes later, one of Herb's coworkers saw a red van on her way to visit an ailing friend. Remembering Herb's story from the day before, she texted Herb with the van's license plate number. Same van! She told Herb that the driver was changing clothes in a parking lot, which, it so happens, adjoined the property of the police department.
Herb called the police department. The dispatcher (a different one) listened to his story. Herb pleaded, "Just send someone out your back door, and you'll see him!" As precious moments passed, she tried to make sense of the situation. So Herb switched tactics.
"Are all of you dispatchers in the same room."
"Yes, we are."
"Then please just stand up and say, 'Who talked to the crazy guy about the cat and red van?'"
"Ok....Who talked to the crazy guy about the cat and red van?"
A muffled voice is heard: "Oh, that was me! I'll take it."
Soon an officer was dispatched. As Herb waited on the phone, his coworker called to say the van was on the move. She followed. A genuine car chase ensued!
Herb connected his coworker with the police. The van travelled about a mile to a locksmith, located next to a pet grooming salon. Why was he going to a locksmith? Were incarcerated, elderly kitties being held for ransom somewhere?
Herb received a text from his coworker: "Got him!" The police officer questioned the man and then called Herb, who, after hearing the story, agreed with the officer that there was no need to press charges. What happened?
The man explained that he sees Jezebelle in our yard everyday and just wanted to pet her. He knew he should have stopped to explain to our neighbor what he was doing, but he just got back in his van and drove off.
The officer admonished the man for unsafe driving and disturbing behavior. "You can understand how stopping in the middle of the street, running into someone's yard chasing after one of their pets, and then speeding away, would raise concerns. You can't just stop in the middle of the street like that. And you can't run into people's yards after their pets."
The man said he understood and that it would not happen again. The officer replied, "We now have you on record as someone having 'suspicious activity around cats'."
Over the next few days I slowly began to coax Jezebelle back outside. She was in no hurry to leave the safety of indoor kitty life. Adding to her trauma was an incident three days beforehand when another neighbor's black behemoth of a dog escaped his back yard and bounded onto our front porch, where Herb saw the dog with Jezebelle in his mouth, shaking her violently back and forth.
But that's a story for another time. Suffice it to say, Jezebelle escaped unharmed. Tonight, she snoozes, curled into the tiniest ball of fur, snuggled safely between her two humans.