Mark is transporting a load of high-end farm tractors to P.E.I. and has a major breakdown at the junction of Hwys. 400 and 401. He gets off the highway and pulls onto a side street only to have Mother Load unable to move. A mobile mechanic can’t get him going and a tow’s not available until the next morning. He’s forced to spend the night in a rough part of the city.
In the early evening Mark is contacted by a Toronto Police officer wanting him to move. The convenience store owner comes to Mark’s rescue telling the officer Mark was making a delivery to his store. Later that night, a bunch of thugs try to steal what’s in Mark’s trailer, but go away when they realize they can’t get rid of his cargo in the city. In the morning, the tow truck arrives and takes first Mother Load and then the trailer to a nearby truck yard. Mark goes for some breakfast and when he gets back to the yard he finds that the trailer has been stolen…
Later that day, Mark visited the police station serving that part of Toronto and was met in the lobby by an officer working in the division’s Commercial Auto Crimes bureau.
“So, your trailer was stolen, eh?” the officer asked.
“Yes,” Mark answered. “And…”
The officer cut him off. “Fill out these forms and write out an account of what happened to the trailer.”
“Fill out forms?”
“And write down my statement?”
“Yeah. Take your time and make sure you include all the information you have.”
“Alright,” Mark said. He hadn’t counted on doing paperwork, but if this was the way the police wanted his information, he was willing to oblige. Mark took his time with the forms, making sure he didn’t leave out anything that could be important. When he was done, he asked for the officer to return and proudly handed over the papers.
“So,” he said. “Do you want to interview me now?”
“No,” the officer said, holding up the forms. “We have all your information. That should be enough.”
“Alright,” Mark said, unsure. “When will you be going by the truck yard?”
“No real need to. I’m sure your trailer will turn up in a day or two.”
“What?” Mark said. “No investigation? No interviews? What about video evidence? Eye witnesses?”
“Sir. We’re investigating…our way. With respect, we don’t tell you how you should drive your truck. Don’t tell us how to investigate a crime.”
The officer did have a point. They were the pros, especially in a bureau specializing in auto crimes. But Mark had been a private investigator for many years before becoming a truck driver and it just didn’t seem like they were putting much effort into finding a trailer containing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise.
“Will you at least call me when you find something out?”
“But nothing till then?”
The officer shook Mark’s hand. “All we ask is that you be patient.”
Mark left he police station and went back to the truck yard to pick up his truck and ask a few more questions. The police could investigate the crime any way they wanted but to Mark’s way of thinking, what was needed here was a proper nose to the ground investigation. And if the police weren’t going to conduct such an investigation, then maybe he would.
He thought about that a moment. How cool would that be if he could track the missing trailer all by himself while the police sat around and waited for something to happen? At the truck yard, Mark spoke to the mechanics again, but each of them said the same thing they’d said before and were beginning to get annoyed by Mark’s persistence.
“Don’t you have a truck to drive?” asked one of the mechanics. “It’s been fixed, you know? Are you waiting for us to put fuel in it for you?”
Mark left the garage and went inside the office to speak with the security guard and watch the tapes recorded by the yard’s close-circuit cameras. He asked the security guard if he could see the video again and the guard obliged, not only letting him see the video he’d seen before, but other videos recorded at the same time showing the theft from several different angles. Mark made himself comfortable in the office and studied all the recordings, watching each one forward and back, in slow motion and then frame-by-frame. Over time his initial excitement over his investigation began to wane. What all the videos showed was a dark-colored tractor – maybe a Freightliner, maybe a Sterling – driving into the lot and a middle-aged man getting out of the truck. The poorly lit figure hooked up the trailer and drove away. Just like that.
Mark was disheartened. Even though he had video evidence of the crime being committed, he was no closer to finding his trailer than he was the day before.
“This video was no help at all,” he said with a sigh.
“Don’t worry,” the security guard said. “Your trailer will turn up eventually.”
“That’s what everyone keeps saying.”
“Because they always do,” said the guard. “Whatever is inside the trailer might not be in the trailer when they find it, but the trailer will be found somewhere…and soon.”
“So I should just sit around and do nothing?” Mark said, throwing his arms up in the air.
Just then, Mark’s cell phone rang. It was an unknown number…quite possibly the police.
“Who wants to know?”
The voice on the other end identified herself as a Toronto police constable. She was calling to ask if Mark wouldn’t mind coming by and picking up his trailer.
“You found it?” Mark asked, dumbfounded. “How?”
“It wasn’t all that hard,” she said. “Each of the tractors on the trailer have a GPS system on them. We contacted the manufacturer and asked them to turn them on, which they did for us remotely. After that we just needed to wait for the truck to stop moving long enough so we could arrest the drivers and seize the trailer without much risk.”
Mark was slack-jawed, unable to speak a word. After a long silent pause, the officer pressed him. “So, when can you come by and get the trailer?” She gave him the location and some details on how to get there.
“Within the hour,” he said, vowing to hang up his investigator hat and leave solving crimes to the professionals…at least for a little while. TN
Mark Dalton returns next month in another adventure.