The Case of The Burglarized Bakery

Wolf DeVoon

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Funny things happened on the beach. There was a Guarda Rurale shack next door to the post office in the Tico village, two dopes in uniform with a motorbike that moved once a month. I got curious and followed them on one of their monthly outings. They putt putt putted at 10 miles an hour up a winding gravel road to the private swingers club at the top of a hill to pick up an envelope. Aside from collecting graft, I never saw them do anything else, except rope off the liquor shelves at restaurants and bars on election day. Real cops, Judicial Police from Nicoya, were three hours away on a single track dirt road. When they were summoned to investigate a break-in at the hardware store, they borrowed talcum powder and Scotch tape to lift fingerprints. No one was ever interrogated or arrested for stealing a couple thousand dollars of power tools and screwdrivers.

Wolf+2001.jpg So, Danny and me were the guys people called to do something about burglary, armed hold-ups, nasty characters hassling chicks on the beach, and suspicious deaths. A middle aged man was found face down in six inches of water on Guiones Beach, which seemed odd enough to warrant a glance before he was hauled into an ambulance. Sure enough, there was an ugly lump on the back of his head. Onlookers remarked that he was a heavy drinker, probably passed out and hit his head on a rock. Guiones had a couple rocks, none near the body. He was rich, gay, single, and co-owner of a little bakery near the condos, operated by a husband and wife team. Good bread, sandwiches, scrambled egg breakfasts, big smiles and prompt service. They were struggling to make money in the off season, had a happy kid about 8 years old, and the family lived at the bakery, a small building with a big kitchen and commercial baking equipment, a comfortable bedroom, pokey sitting room, and bath. I drove there to observe how they took the news that their business partner was dead. They snarled that he was a lazy asshole, and that somebody broke into the bakery and stole their corporation books in the middle of the night while they were asleep, woke up this morning sick and groggy. The intruder must have pumped knock-out gas through their open bedroom window and then entered through a window in the kitchen. The burglar drank a beer and emptied their cash box. I had a pro powder kit, didn't dust the beer bottle, knew it didn't matter.

The baker showed me a ripped screen where the burglar entered the kitchen. No footprints in the flower bed under the window. No footprints or dirt on a stainless steel table inside, under the window. A tiny hole in the bedroom window screen, where preposterous knock-out gas poisoned the sleeping victims. Barefoot burglars don't steal corporation books or use hypothetical gas canisters. They don't attack an occupied residence, unless it's a single babe's mansion in a remote section of the highlands, somebody that they can frighten into opening a safe. I took a few photos, didn't ask any questions. Alibis are always incredibly dumb.

I traced the dead man's movements before he ended up face down in the surf. He had dinner at a resort, as usual, laughed and had a couple drinks, wasn't falling down drunk when he left to walk home. He walked about half a mile before he allegedly stumbled and fell. Private investigators aren't cops. I thought about the 8 year old kid. His mom was a material witness. She kept silent while her husband bellowed a pack of incredibly stupid lies about a burglar equipped with knock-out gas. Corporation books are the sole legal evidence of a business partnership in Costa Rica, handwritten in ink. A cop would have tossed the joint and found them hidden under a mattress or on the top shelf of a closet, then bullied the overwrought baker for making false statements, forced an emotional crack-up and confession by telling him that there was a Tico witness who saw him on the beach at midnight.

I let them sell the bakery and move to another province that had a sawmill I visited, because I had a big order for teak recliners and straight chairs that I designed and sold to resorts. I saw them on a village street and said hello. The kid was a year older, happy and intelligent, the former baker and his wife cheerful. They bought a house 50 miles from the white sand beach where an idle, laughing asshole that nobody mourned was found face down in the surf, his legs on dry sand, undoubtedly stalked, clubbed unconscious, and drowned.

When Danny quit and went back to Kansas, I inherited his Sig Sauer. A lot of people left that year. Steve gave me his carbine and another .45 to add to my collection. I carried a little .22 magnum single action revolver, never had to fire it, and there was a long barrel .38 in case of emergency. Boris offered a Kalashnikov that I declined. All the firepower and handcuffs and cameras were useless, if I let people get away with murder. I decided to spend more time drinking and playing poker at the Beatle Bar, something I knew how to do, filling ashtrays with cigarette butts and bluffing four other beach bums who had more money than brains.

Relevant constitutional law:  Article IV.  THE POLICE POWER
The right to keep and bear arms and to use reasonable force in defense of one's life and innocent liberty, or the life and liberty of another, describes the police power generally. Every person signatory to this Constitution is lawfully empowered to arrest and detain a perpetrator or willing accessory apprehended during the commission of a crime... All felony prosecutions shall be conducted on behalf of a living natural person whose enjoyment of life, liberty, or settled claim to property are alleged to have been impaired...

If someone had stepped forward to complain and retained Danny and me to investigate on their behalf, I would have handled it differently. But no one did. The dead man's next of kin were not unhappy he died. They emptied his brokerage account and bank account and sold his condo property. The $40,000 that he invested or loaned to the bakery (unclear which) was small potatoes, not worth the risk of litigating in Costa Rica's unpredictable Napoleanic Law courts that might expose them to a criminal probe of their Panamanian proxy tax laundry.

Case closed. Wait a minute, lemme see that. Bonnie! A new deck! These are getting too easy to read. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves, you rats. Thank you. Ante up, gentlemen.


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