CSI: Bugscuffle County

It was late 1996 and my fair city was plagued by some sticky-fingered critters who had adopted the bus stop as their hunting ground.

Since we were basically a wide spot in the road, our bus stop was Earl’s Tire Shop and Diner. Trouble was that Earl was only open Monday through Friday and closed up shop each day at 4:35PM sharp.

Since some interstate bus lines run after 4:30 some days — and even run on the weekends — Earl had been thoughtful enough to construct a shaded bench out of scrap lumber so that folks had a place to sit while they waited on their next bus.

Some feet away from the shelter, Earl had built a rack so that luggage could be stored off of the ground.

Unfortunately, since both the shelter and the rack were constructed out of scrap lumber, they weren’t exactly transparent. If you were sitting in the shelter, there was no way to watch the luggage rack without getting up.

Some enterprising critters had noticed this, and had developed the annoying habit of walking off with a bag about once a week.

After the fourth theft, the Sheriff had gone to Earl and suggested that he do something about the line-of-sight issues betwixt the shelter and the rack.

Earl’s response had been to hang a couple of signs stating: “NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR LOST OR STOLEN PROPERTY” and that was that, as far as Earl was concerned.


Anyhoo, about a month later (and five more stolen bags), I get a call about an abandoned car on the edge of town.

I scoot out thataway, and I find a 1981 Pontiac Turbo Trans Am, primer in colour, no hood, high-centred on a curb, engine still hiccuping along, both doors gaping wide open.

I know — know — who belongs to that car, but I call in the tags to Dispatch anyway, get out and stroll up to the car.

Two things of interest immediately catch my eye: the first of which is that the area of bare metal where the back seat would normally be was absolutely chock-full of various articles and styles of clothing (mostly womens), several empty bags of the carry-on variety, no less than seven full sets of shaving gear — still in the shaving cases — and one open white Samsonite hard-sided suitcase on top of the whole pile.

The second thing to catch my eye was the incredible amount of blood in the front half of the car. I’m serious, it looked like someone had just got done filming a slasher flick in there.

I go back to the cruiser, tell Dispatch to send the Sheriff my way and Dispatch informs me that the Trans Am comes back to Big Mama’s nephews Dobie and Nug.

I knew that.

I go back to the car, use the screwdriver sticking out of the ignition to kill the car and I notice a … distinctive … print on the steering wheel. In blood. Once I notice this print, I immediately spot more. On the dashboard, the back window, the drivers headrest, the rear-view mirror — pretty much all over the inside of that car. All in blood.

Thing is, these prints look a lot like a dog’s foot-print, only they’re a bit more rounded and there aren’t any claw tips visible. And they’re about two inches across.

A bit puzzled, I — desperately trying not to muss up any of the copious quantities of blood — weasel the white suitcase off of the top of the pile in the back seat for further examination.

I was sitting on the curb, staring at the inside of the suitcase which was absolutely coated in fine, light-coloured hair — more like fur, truth be told — and rubbing a finger absent-mindedly across the multitude of 3/8’s inch holes which had been drilled in the sides of the suitcase, when the Sheriff pulled up.

“What do we have?” snarled the Sheriff.

“Well,” sez I, “I think Dobie and Nug are the critters that have been stealing the luggage from Earl’s.”

“Should have figured as much … damn, that’s a lot of blood.”

“Yeah. Might want to run the ambulance over to Big Mama’s place. They’ll go to her if they’re hurt,” I rub a tuft of fur between my forefinger and thumb, “I’m thinking it’s safe to say that they’re hurt.”

The Sheriff looked over his sunglasses at me.

I look back at him, “I’m not sure, but I think the suitcase they just stole had one very pissed-off bobcat inside it. I figure whoever was in the passenger seat opened the suitcase, and the bobcat kicked arse until Dobie and Nug got the doors opened and bailed out. ”

“Goodness,” remarked the Sheriff, “Talk about your bad luck. Oh, well. I’m going to head over to Big Mama’s house and make sure she doesn’t yard-dart another paramedic. Full report of what’s here on my desk ASAP.”

Whistling a jaunty tune, he got back into his cruiser and scooted over to Big Mama’s house, where — true to form — Dobie and Nug had to be dragged out from under the porch, said dragging out resulting in Big Mama losing her temper and going to jail along-side her nephews.

The only fingerprints I ever found on that suitcase belonged to Nug, and trust me — I looked everywhere and tried everything I could think of.

We recovered most of the stolen luggage, but none of the owners wanted to travel back to Bugscuffle County to testify, so the DA dropped the charges against Dobie and Nug.

Thing is, to the best of my knowledge they never, ever tried to steal luggage again — so I guess that Justice was actually served anyway.


Bad parent! Bad, bad parent!
Meditations on ID theft

15 thoughts on “CSI: Bugscuffle County”

  1. ROFL…

    Nice of the Sheriff to run out to big Mama’s…I’d have hated to be the paramedic who got lawn-darted. 😉

  2. “Work smarter son, not harder.”

    For some reason, that phrase came to mind near the end of the tale.

    1. I reckon I know who put that bag there.

      Probably didn't whistle a jsunty tune while 'rigging the bait', as it were.

  3. Oh, the old bobcat in the suitcase trick. I’ve got a good friend back home who did the same thing after his daddy told him to get rid of the then-grown-to-adulthood bobcat who took off the first joint of his index finger.

    Some things are great in the telling. After seeing one actually occur from a safe distance, it’ll put a smile on your face no matter how deep a funk you’re in. I’m just glad the statute of limitations has expired.


  4. If the boys got a little clawed and chewed letting kitty out, I wonder what the person who put kitty in there looked like? Remembering trying to put a domestic kitty where he dosen’t want,I’m thinking a hocky player on a bad night.

  5. This story rang a mental bell, so I hopped over to the Indispensable Snopes. Sure enough, they have a page on the “wildcat in a suitcase” legend. Although your account is (of course) far more detailed than any of the Legendary versions.

    If you have documentation for this, ‘Dawg, you might want to send it over to Barbara Mikkelson at Snopes. I’m sure she’d get a hearty kick out of it. I’m sure it’s not every day that she gets a case of an urban legend come to life.

  6. Gee, ‘Dog…do YOU have any idea how that cat got into the suitcase?


  7. “If the boys got a little clawed and chewed letting kitty out, I wonder what the person who put kitty in there looked like?”
    My bet is that they looked remarkably like the Sheriff.

  8. Now, Dawg, I’ve been giving you the benefit of the doubt on some of your uh, more entertaining, tales. But something just don’t sound right about thisun. As was noted previously (and on the snopes page) getting said kitty into the suitcase is likely to have resulted in AT LEAST as much pain and misery as was experienced by Mr Nug.
    I’m of a mind you is fibbin a bit on this one….

  9. If the boys got a little clawed and chewed letting kitty out, I wonder what the person who put kitty in there looked like?

    Weeelll…. if ’twas a real case of kitty being transported by bus, then I’d expect kitty was sedated and then handled very, very carefully by its accustomed person (whom it presumably would trust), with heavy leather gauntlets. Which also neatly explains the lack of any other fingerprints on the suitcase.

    Of course, given a cat’s amazing ability to ignore even heavy doses of sedative when it’s agitated, the sedation probably lasted exactly as long as the suitcase was not being handled roughly. When the suitcase was tossed into the car, and kitty woke up, my guess would be that the resulting angry caterwauling (a truly terrifying noise even to intelligent folks) is what prompted the two critters to open the suitcase.

  10. Opening that suitcase is probably on the Top 5 Stupidest Things any critters anywhere have done, including a lot of Darwin awards.

    Pissed off bobcat, yowling and trying to get out. That suitcase is the hell out of my car and I’m not stopping when I toss it out either. I don’t care what else might be in there, I’m writing it off to…. oooooooohh…. could it be…. SATAN !

  11. There being some “doubt” planted into my mind by one of your commentators, I will relate that sometimes the rarest things do happen, even in the big city.

    I had an experience with a chicken who decided to cross the N710 Freeway, during light traffic, round about Bell Gardens. This occurred about 1990. Said bird almost made it accross but was stopped by a big rig.

    Besides myself, the only witnesses were on that freeway. Especially the “puellile” woman who had just cut me off, she almost hit the bird herself.

    Texas ain’t got NOTHIN’ on LA’s freeways! Thankfully!

  12. Ah…I heard a variant on this. Seems someone else, a victim of these punks who laughed at him about his loss, persuaded a snake-handling friend to get him a very large, very pissed-off rattlesnake and put it in a thick suitcase…

    And the rest is history.

    According to him, you never saw a bunch of guys scatter to the four winds that fast without a Warthog aimed in their direction.

    – ISU Tinkerer

  13. The rattlesnake story is easy to believe. If you know how, have a forked stick, and see the rattler first, you can handle one pretty safely – but being taken by surprise by a big rattler is a whole nuther matter. The only way I can see of getting a live and uninjured bobcat into a suitcase involves tranquilizer darts.

    Being written up as a “legend” in Snopes doesn’t actually disprove a story, not when someone had motive, means, and opportunity to make the legend come true. Motive is obvious in this case, so where would LD’s sheriff get tranquilizer darts? And find a bobcat that held still to be shot?

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