Heavy Safe, Lightweight Thieves

Galax bandits make off with $3 in change and a “quantity of nabs and cookies.”

25 YEARS AGO

After a February 1 burglary at Bob’s Tire and Muffler Shop in Galax, investigator Ron Houk said that he had few suspects. One thing was certain: He could rule out any rocket scientists in the vicinity. It was not a clever crime.

     The morning after the break-in, the shop’s employees arrived to discover that someone had rolled the business’ safe out of the building and left it on the ground, unopened. What’s more, the shop’s 1967 Mustang was absent from its usual parking spot. According to a story in the Galax Gazette, the crooks entered on the building’s south side, breaking a windowpane in a door and reaching in to unlock it.

     The authorities assumed that the Mustang had served as a getaway car. But getaway from what, exactly? The safe, after all, had made it through unscathed. And the only loot with which the perps had made off was about $3 in small change and “a quantity of nabs and cookies,” the newspaper reported.

     Pieces of the puzzle—and clues to the I.Q. of the individuals behind the abortive crime spree—began to fall into place when the Mustang was recovered later that morning. It had been abandoned in the parking lot of a construction company, with scrapes and dents around the trunk hatch. “The safe was just too heavy to get it into the car trunk,” Houk said. “The car was damaged by the attempts to load the safe.”

     But insult was added to the car’s injury. Apparently the Einsteins ran the hot rod out of fuel, and, resourceful to a fault, siphoned into it liquid from a storage tank they had spied on the construction company grounds.

     Nyuk nyuk nyuk! It turned out to be diesel, not the proper fuel for the classic gas-guzzler.

     There is nothing to indicate the bungling bandits were identified and arrested—but pity the poor fools if investigator Houk had got his hands on them. Off-duty, he moonlighted as a professional wrestler and only a couple of weeks before had brought home the Independent Wrestling Federation heavyweight title. The grappling Houk was ready to ruuuuumble!

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