Can you solve this mini-mystery?


By Adrian Ludens

A policeman wearing scuba gear bobbed in the frigid water. Detective Rebecca Lawton hunched her neck in her parka. Just watching him made her feel colder.

"Jenson Jewelry reported the robbery this morning," Officer Derek Hall said. "According to the clerk, the day's first customer asked to see the most expensive diamond ring in the store. Then he snatched it and fled on foot."

"How far is the jeweler from here?" Rebecca asked.

"About eight blocks."

Rebecca scanned the park, shivering. It was her first winter here and she wasn't used to the cold. Her eyes returned to the pond. She'd seen a flock of ducks scavenging bread crumbs from picnickers during the summer. She wondered how busy the pond and park were during the winter.

"A witness called dispatch to report a man matching the suspect's description running through the park," Derek said.

"There's something I don't understand," Rebecca said. "Why is there a ten foot by ten foot hole in the ice? It's cold enough that the entire pond surface should be frozen."

"The Polar Bear Club probably did that."

"The what?"

"The Polar Bear Club is a local group made up of ice swimming enthusiasts. They must have an event planned for this weekend. They cut a hole in the ice first, and the hole is maintained by a pump that forces the water to circulate under the opening."

"That way ice won't re-form," Rebecca realized.

"Exactly. You're a fast learner for a recent transplant from down South."

"So our guy is diving to the bottom of the frozen pond looking for the hot ice."

Derek laughed. "That about sums it up."

"How deep is the water?"

"Ten feet. He's doing his best, but finding a diamond ring at the bottom is like looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack."

Rebecca frowned. "How so?"

"Each time he dives, he stirs up more silt. The water gets murkier, and it becomes harder to see anything, even with a light."

"You think the thief is a member of the Polar Bear Club planning to come back during their event?"

"Maybe," Derek said.

Rebecca walked to the edge of the pond. A dusting of snow covered the ground. Rebecca noticed an indentation in the snow and estimated it to be about 12 by 20 inches.

"Officer Hall, did any of our people make that impression in the snow?"

"Not to my knowledge."

"I think our diver might be looking in the wrong direction," Rebecca said.

"Like maybe the thief threw the ring onto the roof of the picnic shelter or something?"

Rebecca pointed a gloved finger. "This indentation; doesn't it look like it could have been made by a bag of ice?"

Derek knit his brows. "Yeah. Probably a ten-pounder. But who needs a bag of ice in the middle of winter?"

"Exactly. We have a suspect who leaves a bag of ice beside a hole in an otherwise frozen pond because he knows the hole will still be there when he returns."

Derek stroked his chin. "So he pushed the ring through a small puncture in the plastic bag. But wouldn't he carry it away with the stolen ring concealed among the ice cubes? He's long gone by now."

"Don't you remember the only substance on earth that is lighter as a solid than as a liquid?" Rebecca asked. "The thief may be gone, but I bet the ring is still within arm's reach."

Where does Rebecca surmise the stolen diamond ring might be?

Please click here to reveal the answer.

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