People and Events

From Staff and Wire Reports

A new crime wave?

Laura Boyd, 16, of North Hollywood, was not pleased to find that somebody had broken into her car and had taken her stuffed Garfield cat, which had been clinging to the window on those little suction cups.

Disregarded by the thief was a Walkman tape player and a toy koala, still hugging another window. Laura's mother, Penny Boyd, went to It's a Zoo, a toy store in Burbank, to replace Garfield and discovered that she was the third person to come in that day with the same problem.

North Hollywood police told Mrs. Boyd that there has been a rash of Garfield thefts. When attorney Dann Boyd, Laura's father, took the car in to have the window repaired, he learned that another Garfield loser with a broken window had come in earlier. "Somebody's collecting them," he speculated. "Maybe a hazing ritual or something."

North Hollywood Officer George O'Connor confirmed that the Boyds were onto something: "It's really unbelievable. I've taken quite a few reports myself. I was going to buy my wife one, but not now. We're telling people not to display them."

Maureen Cross, owner of It's a Zoo, said she has been hearing from Garfield theft victims all over the Los Angeles area "almost every other day since last June. I would guess there's been a couple of hundred."

She said there is a shortage of stuffed Garfields. "We are continually back-ordered and sold out. If you forget to roll your window up, it's gone."

Although desk officers in the Hollywood, Wilshire and Central divisions were not familiar with the Garfield crime wave, Officer Jeff Carter in the West Valley station said he took three such reports during the Christmas season.

Still on the crime beat: Santa Monica police said it wasn't difficult to find the man they suspect of robbing a flower shop with a .38-caliber revolver. In the first place, a clerk jotted down the license number as the bandit drove away with $40 of the store's money.

And the car was an orange Pinto.

Sgt. Barney Melekian said officers were waiting a half hour later when Elias Alberto Marestein, 51, arrived at his Venice home. He was held Wednesday on suspicion of robbery with bail set at $16,000.

It isn't always that easy, Melekian said.

Alan Black was the reluctant winner of Wednesday's first annual Diaper Derby in Lancaster, where he out-crawled two dozen other babies (median age: 10 months) over a 10-foot course in the local Giant store.

Alan almost blew it. Four inches from the finish line, track-side observers report, he stopped and broke into tears. But he resumed the race when he spotted second-place finisher Lacie Copeland moving up fast behind him.

The mothers did a lot of screaming and yelling and there were even some fathers on hand. The latter, a race spokesman confided, "were very competitive."

One girl contestant, whose name is being withheld here, fell asleep and did not finish.

Channing de Dios got a call from a North Hollywood neighbor suggesting that he turn his television set to Channel 15. As he does not have cable and his set doesn't bring in Channel 15--San Diego's broadcast outlet, KPBS--he was puzzled when he punched his remote control and inexplicably got a picture on 15.

The picture was fuzzy, according to De Dios, but not so fuzzy that he didn't recognize porn when he saw it. After a half hour or so, it faded entirely.

In San Diego, KPBS publicity staff member Tracie Jones noted that the station's schedule that night included the MacNeil-Lehrer Report, "The Making of a Continent" and "Roller Skating Championships."

"I'm sure none of it was pornographic," she was quick to assure.

In Washington, D.C., Federal Communications Commission enforcement engineer George Dillon speculated that the picture was the result of an electronic "leak" in some nearby television cable.

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