My scooter was stolen last Thursday afternoon, brazenly purloined from the motorcycle parking area of my Arlington apartment complex.

Sucks, right? Yeah, sure, you don’t care. That’s cool. But here’s a funny thing:

On Thursday night, City Paper held a party downtown to celebrate Dave Jamieson’s receipt of the Livingston Award for his amazing story “Letters From an Arsonist,” which chronicled the career of a prolific serial arsonist in D.C.

I had planned on attending this event, but ended up pulling an all-nighter at the office on Wednesday in order to get the online version of Hoods & Services going. (Check out the Rankinator—it sort of works!) By 2 p.m. Thursday, I was running on fumes. Party or sleep? I chose sleep, scooted home and passed out.

Wrong choice.

I discovered the theft in the morning. I called the police, gave a report, and we talked to one of the maintenance guys at my building; he’d seen some unfamiliar kids hanging around the motorcycle parking area the day before and riding scooters around the neighborhood. The thieves had apparently struck while I slumbered in the afternoon.

As a person will do in these situations, I spent the better part of the day irrationally kicking myself for choosing to go home instead of going to the City Paper party.

Then I decided to email the neighborhood listserv, in case anyone had seen these kids enjoying my vehicle. Short version: “It’s bright orange and black with a black milk crate on the back (unless the thieves removed it).”

I got a response. A neighbor had noticed a milk crate on the side of the road a few blocks away. I walked over, and sure enough, there was my crate, sitting on a storm drain next to a pile of lovingly and carefully severed zip-ties.

Across the street, some folks were having a deck party. I approached their fence and flagged down the host. Had he seen anything suspicious? As it turned out, several neighbors had seen two kids with scooters hanging out on the corner where I found the crate for a half hour on Thursday afternoon, “giving rides” to some other kids. Joyriders?! Perhaps. As I found out later, there was at least one other mid-afternoon scooter theft in the neighborhood last week.

Unfortunately, the kids weren’t suspicious enough at the time to warrant police attention. Dead end.

But then the party host said to me (and I paraphrase): It’s interesting that they left the milk crate on that particular corner. That corner has a history.

How do you mean? I inquired.

Well, he told me, that was the very same corner where the police found a pair of pants that were used to convict the D.C. arsonist.

And so it was.

If they ever catch the guys who stole my bike, maybe Dave Jamieson can tell their story.

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