We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

For genteel Chevy Chase, no villain looms larger than the mysterious flower thief. The enigmatic criminal, who brazenly plucks flowers from neighborhood gardens and presumably resells them, has gone unpunished for years. Area listservs are filled with discussion of his latest crimes and methods by which he could, finally, be caught.

But have you considered that he may be the reincarnation of Les Misérables hero Jean Valjean, persecuted by the sinister Inspector Javert just for stealing a loaf of bread? Chevy Chasers have!

“Isn’t this Javert’s obsessive pursuit of blind justice in his hunt for Jean Valjean,” wrote one Chevy Chase resident in the latest round of listserv plotting last week. “And if the thief is caught, he will be prosecuted and punished by the harsh courts of D.C., not by our compassionate neighborhood.”

Oh, to be tossed by the seas of misfortune far from the compassion of Chevy Chase. Other residents agreed that they didn’t have to involve the police in flower thefts, while others—-including some gardeners—-weren’t having it.

Still, the Chevy Chase Victor Hugo Society has not been dissuaded, with the original Jean Valjean guy later suggesting that they treat the flower thief with “the same charity of Bishop Myriel in offering food and bed to Jan Valjean.” (sic)

And they say Takoma Park has all the hippies!

Man with Flower photo by Shutterstock