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Theft in Seattle: Did I do the right thing over a few stolen beers?

I need your help with a questionable decision I made Saturday night.

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It was a little after 11 p.m. I was getting ready to go to bed. I heard a really loud scraping noise coming from the front of my house right outside the French doors.

I quickly moved towards the front of the house and pulled the blinds down enough to take a peek outside. Nobody was there, but the motion light had been triggered, and I noticed my red Coleman cooler was gone.

After a recent get together, I had left my cooler outside with some left over beers and sodas in it. As the ice melted, it would drain out the bottom of the cooler. I guess I figured that I could leave a cooler on my porch next to the BBQ and that wasn’t it in danger of being stolen. I was wrong.

You never know what you’re going to do in situations like this, but since I had just heard the scraping sound, I figured that the thief had to be close by. I ran outside and went up an incline and out to the street. I didn’t see anyone at all.

There’s a bus stop with one of those rain covering structures across from my building, and in the dim overhead street lamp light, I saw some movement. Between the bottom of the bus hut and the pavement, I saw two legs.

In retrospect, this was probably a stupid move. Without thinking, I ran across the street and yelled something clever like “Hey! Can I have my cooler back?” Now I’m no expert on low level prowlers, but it’s entirely possible that they carry a knife or a gun or are tweaking on some kind of substance. As I rounded the bus hut unarmed, I had no idea what was waiting for me. Was it really worth it over a cooler with some Amstel Lights and diet Dr. Pepper’s? That thought never entered my mind.

The Coleman cooler crook

Luckily for me, the Coleman cooler crook was unarmed, and I was about 10 inches taller than he was. Dressed all in black with a hat pulled low and partial face mask, he said, “Sorry man, I just need the money. I’m broke.”

I said something like, “Really dude? You’re going to steal my cooler?”

The thief said, “I was thinking I could sell the beers. Desperate times.”

So what should I do at this point? Call the police? He’s literally caught red-cooler handed. Then we wait together at the bus stop for the cops to arrive? Are they going to arrest him over a $50 cooler and some beers?

In the movies, this is where a fight, or a low-speed foot chase breaks out. But he just stood there and looked at me. And I just stood there next my cooler. For whatever reason I kind of felt sorry for the guy.

I can’t explain why I did what I did next, but I reached into the cooler and handed him two beers. I picked up my red Coleman and carried it home, this time taking it inside.

Most likely, he needed drug money. What’s the street value of a cooler and beers? Twenty bucks, maybe?

Upon reflection, I was lucky. This could have ended much different. I probably should have just let it go.

What do you think, did I make the right decision here?

You can hear “What are we talking about here?” everyday at 4:45 p.m. on 97.3 FM.

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