|Can you solve this mini-mystery?|
NICKEL AND CRIMED
By Carol E. Ayer
“Tell us again when this happened,” Detective Mel Davidson said to the owner of Hillmont Coins and Currency. Sam Williams stood behind the counter of his shop, running a hand nervously through his hair. Davidson and his new partner faced Williams, notebooks at the ready.
“It was only about ten minutes ago,” Williams said. “I went to go get some coffee, and when I came back, the collection was missing. My assistant, Jerry, was supposed to keep an eye on it, but his cell phone rang and he stepped to the back of the store to take the call. I’ve told him time and again to turn off his phone when he gets to work, but does the guy listen to me? Hell, no.”
“So the coins were just out on the counter?” Davidson asked, thinking it was a crime waiting to happen.
“Unfortunately, yes. I know I shouldn’t have left them out, but I was expecting a buyer in about a half hour. For all I know, the buyer might have been the one to steal the coins, but I didn’t get a name or contact number or anything. All he said was he’d be in at ten to look at the set. I figured I’d get his information then.”
“Lucky for you that we were next door having breakfast when we got the call,” Davidson’s new partner, Fred Hastings, said. “Maybe we can still catch the thief. He can’t have gone far.”
“Was this set of coins particularly valuable?” Davidson asked.
“You bet it was,” Williams said. “It was a collection of Liberty head nickels worth about five thousand dollars.”
Detective Hastings whistled. “That’s a lot for a bunch of nickels.”
“They were minted in the mid-1880s,” Williams explained. “Those years net quite a bit of money. I hope you can recover the coins and nail the guy. I’m gonna take a big hit if you don’t. I don’t have insurance. It’s way too expensive.”
“Is there anything you can tell us that might help catch the thief?” Davidson asked.
Williams shook his head. “All I saw was a blur of a white car speeding out of the parking lot. It headed toward the left.”
Davidson considered. “The road’s closed about ten miles in that direction because of the rock slide last week. And not many places the thief could go without turning back. We’ll take a look.”
Detectives Davidson and Hastings bid Williams goodbye and walked out to Davidson’s car. Once they buckled up, they headed out of the parking lot and turned left. Davidson drove slowly so they could keep an eye out for a white car. When they arrived at the road block without spotting any white cars, Davidson said, “This part of town is pretty deserted, what with all the shuttered businesses. I don’t know where the car could have gone. The driver probably turned around. We’ll never catch the thief now.”
“Wait, I know of one business that’s still open,” Hastings said. “Cindy’s Diner.”
“Good call,” Davidson said. They turned around and headed back. In about half a mile, they pulled into the diner’s driveway. The two detectives stepped out of the car and looked around the lot.
Hastings said, “I see three white cars.”
“Yep, that’s my count, too,” Davidson said. He walked up to each of the white cars and then returned to Hastings. “They’ve all got personalized license plate holders. NEW MS MADOX, I LOVE CALICO CATS, and I’D RATHER BE GARDENING.”
Hastings shook his head. “I don’t know what happened to good old-fashioned license plate holders that didn’t say anything. Everyone wants to flaunt their personal business these days. Their marital status, their hobbies, their passions...no wonder there’s so much identity theft. Anyway, let’s get inside to find out who owns those cars and talk to each one of them.”
Hastings advanced toward the door of the diner, but Davidson pulled him back.
“We only need to talk to one,” Davidson said. “I’m ninety-nine percent sure I know who stole the coins.”
Whom did Davidson suspect?Please click here to reveal the answer.
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