One gets accustomed to odd random questions on neighborhood websites, but this one stopped me short:

“Anybody else notice Fresca cans left on their driveway or by a garage? We were concerned that it may be a way to ‘mark’ our house.”

That’s all it said.

Had I missed the neighborhood alert about soda can markings? No, I would have remembered that, because everyone would have spent their time arguing that it should be pop can markings.

If the crooks are marking houses by leaving soda cans, they must be from out of state, but if they’re leaving pop cans, they would be locals.

But markings for what, you wonder. As one follow-up post noted, this could be like the hobo code of yore, where guys who roamed the country on the rails carrying a stick with their possessions knotted up in a kerchief left little chalk markings that indicated whether the homeowner would give you some pie or maybe even pay you for some work.

In the interest of science, I put out a can to see if anyone knocked on the door and asked for pie or work.

No takers. But then I realized that I had used a Diet Dr Pepper can. This could mean “run away, homeowner has weird tastes, may be psychopathic.” The code, if there was one, must involve Fresca, which may mean something to hobos who started their carefree itinerant existence in the 1960s.

Hence, a can on the driveway could mean “owner will give you a drink of Metrecal and some Lark cigarettes, let you read a copy of Look magazine and listen to the hi-fi,” but that seems oddly specific.

Follow-up post by another neighbor: “The can is left on the ground to target your belongings, and after it has been hit, they put the can under the trash can cover partially open so others know it has been hit or should I say robbed.”

OK, so there’s a Burglar Code of Conduct here. A guy breaks in, loads up your stuff, drives off, then slaps himself on the forehead and says, “Oh, I forgot to leave a sign for my fellow members of the Burglar Union not to hit this place because I’ve already removed valuables. What was I thinking? I could get written up for this.”

So he puts a can next to the trash can, and because he struck himself in the forehead, it’s a V-8 juice can.

(That’s a reference for everyone who got the Metrecal, Lark and Look references.)

I’m thinking now I should buy some Tab, place the cans on the steps and watch from the window. A hobo comes by, notes the Tab, gets out a pamphlet and pages through until he hits the T’s. He comes up, rings the bell.

“Hello, I was just passing through, and wondered if you had any broken lava lamps or bean-bag chairs I could repair? Perhaps a beaded curtain?”

“Really? No. Why would you think that? Because someone else left a Tab can?”

(Flustered look as the hobo realizes that I am on to their system.)

“Uh, well ... ” And he runs away.

These neighborhood sites are helpful for lost dogs and curbside giveaways. You can put up a picture of a wet paper napkin, and say, “Works like new if dried out and ironed,” and it’s gone by daybreak. But Fresca can concern is a whole new development, and now I am wondering what happens if I see a can of Shasta on my driveway.

It probably means “knocked on door, and homeowner brandished a sharp church key.”