One morning at Camp Salmen I was awakened by the sound of a running engine outside my window. It was 4:30 AM and dark. This was totally unexpected and I immediately thought it was as good a time as any for a nighttime equipment theft. As I went to the front of the building to look out the window, my inner Barney Fife said, “This is it, this is why they hired me to be the watchdog.” I figured the intruders were probably after the Bobcat excavator and were maneuvering to grab its trailer. At the same time I heard the solid “ker-chunk” of my apartment door closing and locking behind me. I suddenly realized I not only failed to carry the key, I forgot to put on any clothes. The situation suddenly seemed very different.
Fortunately, the headlights outside shifted around and the miscreants disappeared around the corner. I still had time to catch them. I found a spare key, got back in my apartment, got on some clothes and called the cops. The intruders were either still working on the Bobcat or were long gone.
Officer Friendly was at the back gate faster than I could hustle the fifty yards to get it open and she had plenty of back-up. Suddenly there were four police cruisers flooding into the park, gunning the big V-8 engines in their Crown Victoria Police Interceptors and illuminating every lane, driveway and trail with their searchlights. No buggers. They certainly had had enough time to flee.
At least it was a good test run. The cops were quite prompt and anxious to serve and protect. “Whoever” had apparently let themselves out the way they came in, probably using the combination we had given out to too many tradesmen during the past year.
Later that morning I was informed it was the mowing contractor. They had dropped by and let themselves in to retrieve a spool of weed trimmer string needed for an early start on their day. A call would have both warned me and been and unwelcome interruption to my sleep. Barney Fife learned a few lessons too.