PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Palm Beach police found themselves trying to unravel a strange and very fuzzy cat tale last week.
A black-and-white male cat had jumped out of the window of a car driven by a restaurant delivery man in December, and he was picked up by a Northresident. The resident placed posters around the neighborhood but apparently nobody responded.
So, she spent $300 on veterinarian bills and another $300 on food and general cat care, she told police on May 16.
That's the day she received three phone calls, a half-hour apart, from the delivery man who wanted his cat back. She said she found the calls suspicious and contacted the police.
She told the caller that she "had already given the cat away to her sister, who took the cat to France," the investigating police officer said. "At this time I did not observe the cat at her home."
While the officer was talking to the resident, the delivery man called department headquarters. He described the cat and said it was not neutered and not declawed.
After the officer spoke to the delivery man via dispatch, the resident "admitted to me that she still had possession of the cat in her home," the officer said. "She stated that the reason for her deception was the rudeness and lack of sincerity" of the caller. She also said she felt threatened.
She offered to return the cat if the delivery man reimbursed her for the $600 she'd spent, and supplied documentation proving that he really owned the cat. He told the officer he'd bring the documents to the police station.
On Saturday, the delivery man brought seven photographs into the police station of a cat he said was the one he'd lost. A copy of the flyer the resident posted in the neighborhood was turned in to the Crime Scene Evidence Unit locker, as were the seven photographs.
But the case remained unresolved as of Wednesday, according to an interview with the delivery man, who lives in West Palm Beach. He said the cat has sentimental value, since he's had it for 41/2 years and its mother died when it was a young kitten. "I had to bottle feed him," he said.
He took the animal with him in his delivery car that day because his home was being fumigated, he said. "He wasn't used to the car and he freaked out." He didn't see the flyer posted until last week, he said.
Asked in a phone interview whether she was going to give the cat back, the Palm Beach resident said:
"Seeing as how he abandoned the cat, what do you think?"
Disappearing diamond -- Police were called after a guest staying at a local hotel lost an earring on the beach. She had gone to the beach at 10:30 a.m. May 10, wearing a pair of 3/4 carat diamond earrings valued at $5,000 each. Five minutes later she discovered one of them was missing.
She recruited hotel employees to help her search the area but found nothing. She called police to report the loss on Saturday.
Man in black -- A police officer tracked down a man accused of taking a pair of sunglasses in the 200 block of Worth Avenue and arrested him -- while he was wearing the sunglasses he allegedly stole.
The officer was approached at 5 p.m. Friday in the 300 block of Hibiscus Avenue by a customer who said he'd witnessed the theft. He described the suspect as a slim man "wearing shorts, a black tank top and black hat." The officer spotted a man matching the description at the intersection of Hibiscus Avenue and Worth Avenue. The suspect told the officer he'd just come from the shop that reported the theft. He was wearing a pair of Persol sunglasses, which have a retail value of $225, police said.
The customer who had approached the officer arrived and identified the suspect. In a witness statement, he said he saw the suspect in the store. The suspect also was seen on security footage taking the glasses, according to a probable cause affidavit.
The suspect was charged with retail theft and admitted he took the glasses while the store manager was working with another customer, police said. "He said he placed them down his shorts and walked out," the investigating officer said.
The suspect was given a notice to appear in court and was released from the scene.
Pickup probe -- A police officer spotted a suspicious pickup truck parked in the 100 block of Australian Avenue at 9:24 p.m. Monday, so he stopped to investigate.
"As I was shining my flashlight in the truck I observed a jacket lying on the rear floorboard underneath the rear seat," the officer reported. "I observed the jacket moving up and down as if someone was breathing underneath it, and could then see someone's hair coming out from under the rear seat.
"I knocked on the window and the person on the floorboard did not move."
The officer's suspicions had been aroused earlier when he ran a registration check on the pickup's license plate and it came back with no record. He watched the driver pull the vehicle into a driveway, get out of the truck and walk toward a house. But he then returned to the truck and backed it out of the driveway and into a street parking spot.
The officer approached the truck and ran a check on the vehicle identification number. He found that no license plate had been assigned to the pickup.
After he knocked on the window, he opened the truck door and saw "what appeared to be a makeshift crack pipe" under the rear seat. He asked the person under the jacket to come out. "He appeared to be under the influence of an unknown narcotic," the officer said.
According to a probable cause affidavit, the man in the truck admitted to the officer that he had marijuana. A search of the vehicle also turned up what appeared to be the pain killer oxycodone and "burned aluminum foil containing many little white rocks that appeared to be crack cocaine through my training and experience," the officer said.
The driver told the officer he didn't smoke crack, "but did agree that it looked like crack to him."
A records check showed that the driver was a habitual traffic offender who'd had his driver's license revoked. He was charged with possession of crack cocaine, possession of a schedule II drug (oxycodone), possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, and habitual traffic offender driving with license revoked. He was taken to the Palm Beach County Jail.