playing detective

car damage

It was a special night. Celebration time out with the love of my life and good friends. New and delicious foods. An especially friendly and capable waiter attending to our needs and making us laugh. Our stomachs were full after just the appetizer, but we proceeded to stay through coffee and dessert, enjoying the flavors and the company. A treasure of an evening.

… and then everything changed.

Out in the parking lot, we began to say good-bye to our friend, but as we walked over to our car, we saw it… Someone had sideswiped our car while we were in the restaurant! Ugly scratches clearly displayed the damage all along the side panels. Ugh! It was a “hit-and-run” as there was no apologetic note with contact information on the windshield and no-one nearby ready to claim responsibility.

We began to piece together the evidence… red in the scratches gave a clue. Placement of the damage indicated a small SUV rather than a sedan. As we pondered next steps, another couple exited the restaurant, and added that they witnessed the collision, but paid little attention, other than to mention that the car they saw was a… maroon-red SUV.

I’m not sure why, but our eyes began to scan the parking lot for red SUVs… and one caught our eye right across the lot. A quick investigative walk across the lot confirmed our suspicions – grey paint in scratches on the hood at the exact height location! We quickly archived pictures of the license plate and scratches in our phones.

In this day and age, a direct confrontation is not wise, so we called the police for backup. An officer arrived and – although they don’t usually get involved in minor parking lot incidences – quickly joined the case because of the clear evidence and the still-present guilty vehicle.

What kind of person hits a car, discretely drives to the other side of the same lot to park, and then enters the restaurant to eat dinner like nothing happened?

We waited watching the customers as they exited and walked to their cars. Is that the one? Do they look guilty? Nope, never mind, they are walking the other way…

One group of people initially strolled towards the direction of the SUV, but then turned. We lost interest. All of a sudden, the policewoman bolted towards the SUV! Someone had sneaked back to the SUV while we weren’t looking, and, in her peripheral vision, the officer had just seen the car door open. She caught them as they were trying to get away!

The others in the group drove away and left a young woman alone to attempt an unobserved escape. So sad! She nervously tried to blame someone else for the accident and moving the car, but turned over registration and insurance information anyway. Another witness said that drinking by the others may have been an issue.

We took a moment to pray for the officer and the others involved. Case closed.

I am still surprised that all the details came together, and at least we will not have to pay for the repairs, but I can’t stop wondering about the people who would do these things… hiding, blaming, abandoning.

What causes someone to act like that?

And, then… how often do I do the same thing… try to hide my guilt or pass the blame or leave someone else to defend my mistakes?

How about you? Ever had to play detective? Ever been the guilty party?