I’ve always said one of the best things about being a cop in Isla Vista is that working in a college town keeps me feeling young. As I sit here typing and sipping on my fiber-enhanced fruit drink, trying hard to not be distracted by my wife flipping channels between Lifetime and HGTV, I’m reflecting on the would’ves, could’ves and should’ves from over the years. Do I regret my job, family, kids and pets? Nope. Maybe the rabbit. At least they told me it was short eared, long tailed, cheese-eating rabbit. Weird.

Getting back on track, we’ve all made decisions that probably weren’t the best. Whether it was playing basketball in the house and breaking the lamp, throwing a football and busting your sister’s nose or even the time you took the sacred idol from that Hawaiian burial ground and went surfing. No one’s perfect. Even I have to admit to my mistakes. Maybe thinking I was the luckiest guy to find a pet rabbit behind the 7-11 dumpster was one of my lesser moments. Regardless, before I go gentle into that good night, maybe I can help others make decisions that will help them out. 

I came home from Winter Break and found discovered someone had broken into our apartment and stole my laptop and some DVDs. Is this worth reporting , or is my stuff gone forever?

Sadly, this is an all-too-common story in our town. Regardless of all the cops trying to prevent thefts during student vacations, some dirtbag (sorry, it’s not politically correct to name call, I meant to call them scum-sucking, bottom-feeding toe jam of leeches) eventually breaks into someone’s apartment and rips off everything of apparent value. Then you come home to find the only thing left of your entertainment center is your John Tesh CD collection. So what’s the point of reporting the theft to the police? Although I can’t guarantee that you’ll get it all back if you report it, I can guarantee that if you don’t, you’ll have zero chance of getting it back. Filing a report only takes a few minutes, and you never know; we might have already arrested the person who stole your iPod, or for you cheapies, your North Korean iNod MP1 player. If you don’t report the theft, we never would have been able to get it back to you or even known the goods that, uh, nice fellow was trying to sell were stolen.

I found a bike in my front yard this weekend. I didn’t steal it; it was just left there. Will I get in trouble if I use it?

Simple answer is if it’s not yours, it’s not yours. Maybe it was stolen, or maybe someone left it there after a hard night partying and, like their pants, can’t remember where they left it. In California, when you find property, you have an obligation to attempt to return it to the owner. This law supersedes the middle school law of “finders keepers, losers weepers.” As a result, even though you didn’t steal the bike, if you get caught riding it, you can get busted for possessing lost or stolen property. However, if that bike has those red, white and blue tassels and the thumb bell that you’ve always envied, there is a way to claim the bike for yourself. Take it to the UC Police Dept. or I.V. Foot Patrol and turn it in as found property. After 90 days, if no one claims it or the owner can’t be found, it can be returned to you and is then yours. Then you can ring that bell ’til your heart’s content as you peddle through I.V. listening to Tesh’s greatest hits on your iNod. Good times.

Classes are back in full swing, and it’s been a busy couple of weekends in Isla Vista. Remember, if you are out there having a great time, don’t let it get ruined by getting a ticket or having your stuff ripped off. Lock your apartment when you’re gone and keep the open beers off the street. Do that, and you’ll have fun stories to tell of your misadventures in I.V. instead of having the fun come to a screeching halt due to your laptop and six-month month research paper disappearing into the dark night. That sucks. In the meantime, have fun and be safe. 

Got caught by a cop? Your party popped by the po-po? Ticked off by a ticket? If you have questions, don’t let it eat away at you, Question Authority! E-mail me anytime at QA@police.ucsb.edu or call UCSB PD at 805-893-3446.