Carmel Valley: A man reported that someone had been trimming the shrubs outside his residence without his permission.
--from the Carmel Pine Cone police blotter
This one is for Californians who live in cities where the daily news fairly drips with fresh accounts of true, bloody, vile crime: In other words, for most Californians. It's about how the other half lives.
It involves Carmel and the towns clustered along the Big Sur coast, a heavenly slice of California known mainly for golf tournaments, wealthy retirees, swank restaurants and unending debate over how many T-shirt shops should be tolerated. The newspaper that covers this region is the Carmel Pine Cone.
Like most small town newspapers, the Pine Cone publishes a "crime blotter," a rundown of police activity culled from law enforcement files. As someone who reads newspapers up and down the state, from the Mendocino Beacon, to the King City Rustler, to the Needles Desert Star, let me say this: There is nothing in California journalism quite like the Pine Cone's "Sheriff's Log."
While it sometimes carries serious, even sad entries, the rundown more typically provides Pine Cone readers with dizzy little items that, added together, prove just how far apart these people live from the land's meaner streets. Consider the following, lifted verbatim from half a dozen recent Pine Cones (it helps to imagine them being read aloud, "Dragnet"-style, by Jack Webb):
Carmel Valley: A 73-year-old woman reported being surprised by an unannounced visit from a 62-year-old female acquaintance. The woman felt uncomfortable and stated that she did not want any visitors. A cab was called to take her acquaintance home.
Big Sur: A man reported that a nearby gate could suffer damage during the next large earthquake.
Pebble Beach: A woman requested that a welfare check be made on her elderly uncle after he did not answer the phone. Responding deputies [note the plural] found the uncle asleep in his bedroom; the phone was off the hook.
Carmel: A high school principal reported that he did not want to press charges after finding that two men, 19 and 20, broke into the school's gym to play basketball.
Carmel: An 80-year-old man reported receiving annoying messages on his answering machine. The unknown female caller left the lengthy, profanity-filled messages for a woman named Marlene. A deputy who visited the residence used a call-back device and was able to leave a message on the caller's answering machine. The female caller later contacted the deputy and stated she had been dialing the wrong number all along.
Carmel Valley: Nothing suspicious was found after a woman reported hearing a door slam inside her residence.
Carmel: A man reported that three lug nuts had been removed from one of his truck's tires. The apparent sabotage did not result in an accident.
Big Sur: A woman asked for assistance in obtaining a restraining order after she reported that she engaged in an argument with a former boyfriend who works with her at a pub. The argument was over the use of knives to cut lemons.
Pebble Beach: A woman reported observing a message on the Internet advertising the sale of Pakistani boys.
Carmel Valley: A 44-year-old man reported that the $100 hood ornament of his Mercedes-Benz had been broken off. A 10-year-old boy later admitted to the crime.
Carmel: A woman reported that her daughter had found a bone and wished the police to confirm it was not from a human. It was determined the bone belonged to a deer.
Carmel: A woman reported that a 52-year-old man tried to run her over after allegedly shoplifting 14 nicotine patches from a drugstore.
Carmel: An intoxicated man reportedly interrupted a personnel meeting at a grocery store before fleeing in a limousine.
Carmel Valley: A woman reported that she observed a male neighbor walking down his driveway wearing only a T-shirt that didn't cover anything "below his abdomen." The man was contacted and alleged he was wearing bikini underwear while he was on his driveway.
Carmel: A man called to report his daughter may have overdosed on drugs. He said he wanted to leave his residence. The man was in an altered state. A cab was called to take the woman home.
Pebble Beach: A man reported being frightened when another motorist tailgated him.
Carmel: A woman reported seeing a suspicious elderly man wander through her neighborhood. When asked what he was doing, the man replied that he was "just walking."
Case closed. And thus concludes this installment of "True Crime, the Carmel Files." Next week, on the streets with La Jolla SWAT. . . .