Springtime, the Minneapolis city website reminds us, is crook season. And crooks aren't usually smart people.
Minneapolis, for example, has lost some manhole covers to idiots who think they can resell them to scrap-metal dealers. As if there wouldn't be any questions. "Say, where did you get this?''
"Uh -- I inherited it. No -- it came rolling down the street one day like the story of the Runaway Pancake. How much do I get?"
But common burglary is much more common. The website has tips on avoiding crime, like making sure the garage door is down. Always down. If it's up more than 10 seconds, criminals appear. Possibly out of another dimension. If the city was smart they would leave a lot of garages open, lure the criminals, then close the doors and trap them. Some suggest putting glue on the floor, but you hate to see them struggle.
Here's our recent crime experience. Went out to the garage to pump up the tires on the kid's bike. It was gone. Of course it was gone, I thought. We live in the city. It's the annual sacrifice to the Crime Gods. In some cultures they threw a virgin in a volcano to please their barbaric deities; here, we just toss 'em a bike every so often. Oh, Thugs, we giveth unto thee these conveyances, that ye may pass over us later and extendeth to us thy mercy.
But a kid's bike! How low do you have to be? Then you think of some Les Miserables-type character, impoverished by a cruel society, driven to the margins of life by unjust and malicious forces, desperate to feed his child -- no, wait, he just had lunch, so he's not hungry at all. In fact he's stuffed. But if only he could find a bike, so his child could learn like the other children! He sees our garage door open, takes a chance. Oh, kind sir, if only you could see the smile on dear little child when I gave her the bike, perhaps your heart might soften at my crime!
Sure, that's exactly what happened. I should feel guilty for being mad. Instead I stomped back in the house and spat out the bad news -- some useless bag of entry-level mendacity stole the kid's bike.
"We gave that one to charity last fall," my wife said.
I'm guessing that's what happened to my manhole cover collection, too.