Friday, February 05, 2010


Yesterday, my friend Isaac pulled his Mercedes up to a gas pump in West L.A. and started the fill-up. A car pulled up across the island and the driver, with an Italian accent, asked Isaac if here were Italian. When Isaac answered no, the driver asked if he could ask him a question. As Isaac stepped nearer, the driver started rambling about being related to Armani and confused about something, yada, yada yada... But in this car's window, Isaac could see the reflection of his Mercedes behind him and saw a man starting in from the other side.

Isaac ran around to that open door and slammed it on the intruder, pushing him into the car. With his keys in hand, Isaac locked the car doors, trapping the intruder. He took out his Blackberry and dialed 911. The intruder hollered and begged to be let out and the driver drove off.

The cops came within a couple minutes and took over. The intruder insisted that Isaac pushed him into the car and locked him in. (For what--ransom? And he needed cops to help him? Which reminds me of the time the Deputies questioned me about a crazy guy who had just attacked me and others on the Sunset Strip before running off. As we spoke, we were radioed by another deputy, who had caught the guy and was guarding him, awaiting our arrival for identification. When we got there, the surly suspect said, "Yeah. That's the guy that attacked me for no reason". Fortunately, they didn't believe him, either.

The cops took Isaac's intruder into custody and told Isaac this was a common crime. One partner distracts someone at a gas station while the other partner quickly searches the car for a quick grab of purse, wallet, whatever.

This was reminiscent of the duo that tried to grab our money when Julie and I were walking in Barcelona, a few months ago.

It is also a reminder to never drop your guard when a stranger asks for directions or even just seems to want to chat. Never leave valuables on a car seat or anywhere within view. Isaac thought I needed particular warning because I am so ready to respond to strangers, but I am careful, often alert, and have no problem giving a quick "no" and curt shake of the head when I feel like it is appropriate. And I did send the two in Barcelona running, but I was lucky, they only wanted to rob us, not hurt us.

You don't have to be paranoid, but, as Randy Newman sings, "It's a jungle out there", - and not all the creatures are friendly.

At least you now have a verifiable Urban Alert that is not a mythical urban myth.

it's private
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