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The Thomas Crown Affair, Lancaster-Style


Forget Philip Marlowe's line about a tarantula on a slice of angel food. The Antelope Valley Press is more like a crack pipe wrapped in a tea cozy. The newspaper's stories about life in the suddenly hardscrabble High Desert tend to be a mix of the homey ("Cheerleaders Show Spirit at Contest") and the hideous ("Woman's Disappearance, Death Still a Mystery After 17 Months.") Today's fable of larcenous dreams deferred focuses on a trio of early 20somethings who would drive to a neighborhood, pretend to sell candy bars -- and burglarize homes that were unoccupied.

Nothing wrong with that hoary scheme, except that two of the burglars were arrested yesterday as they sat dawdling in their car -- that was parked right in front of one of the homes they'd allegedly robbed. The name of the sheriff's branch that busted them -- the Truancy Team -- only emphasized the juvenile nature of the trio's criminal enterprise.

Even the pair's well-rehearsed reply to an officer's question about

what they were doing parked in a street plagued by burglaries seemed

the kind of line you'd hear from a kid playing hooky: They were, the

man and woman told the cops, in the neighborhood selling candy.

But Lancaster's hardened truancy cops have heard it all before.

A box of candy bars offered as proof by the couple was no ordinary fundraising candy, a deputy dryly noted to AVP reporter Daisy Ratzlaff.

"It

was the kind of candy that you buy at Costco," the cynical dep said,

"the 83-cents chocolate bar-type candy - the ones that you give your

kids and they are happy for the rest of the day."

The Truancy

Team, now reinforced with backup deputies, soon secured a perimeter and

got the drop on the gang's third member -- whom a citizen had pointed

out hiding in a nearby tool shed. All in a day's work.


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