barn and truck at moonlightAs buccolic as I make Sonoma out to be, I’m not trying to say it doesn’t have crime or problems. It just seems we have a different kind of crime than the gritty urban crime I’m used to reading about in San Francisco and Oakland. Maybe I’m not clued in to the seamy underbelly of Sonoma, although I do try to keep up. The Crime Report in the Sonoma Index-Tribune is one of the first sections I turn to. That’s where I find gems like the big Saturday night crime spree we had a few months ago when a local deejay showed up drunk and/or high at Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack, proceeded to get into an argument with the owner, smashed one thousand dollars worth of turntables, then ran down the street to Sonoma’s only sushi restaurant and, for good measure, punched the owner in the face. We were all talking about that one for weeks. Last Friday night, three taggers were caught in the act of defacing the feedstore and, in Tuesday’s edition, the crime was still being hashed out on the front page.

Nearly a week after the “crime”, this incident is still making the front page of The Sonoma Index-Tribune.

Yes, we have our own brand of crime. It seems to be largely victimless, mostly alcohol-fueled and quickly nipped in the bud by the excellent Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department. When I say we have a Sheriff’s Department, I really mean it. These guys are cast much more in the Wyatt Earp mold than they conform to any donut-eating stereotype. Years ago, before we had fencing, we had an ATV stolen. Within days, the Sheriffs had rounded up the usual suspects, recovered the vehicle, gotten a confession, led them in front of the Hangin’ Judge and organized restitution. You don’t mess with Western Justice.

So it was shocking and saddening to find out early this morning that we’d been hit by criminals. Although, thankfully, it seemed to be The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight. Since we wrapped up the harvest and got all our wines in barrels, I’ve been in San Francisco most of the time between Thanksgiving and New Years. That’s too many nights with lights out and, I guess, too much of a temptation.

Hey Evil Doers, don’t you know this place is guarded by Attack Terriers?

Apparently, about dawn the perps crept over from the nearby State Park and started jimmying open the windows to the garage/workroom. What they didn’t count on were John the Baptist and his right-hand man Louis. Especially as we race to get the drains and hillsides ready for our torrential winter rains, John and Louis are up here most days. And despite their Saintly names, you don’t want to meet John or Louis if you are wrong-doing. As near as we can tell, the two of them came roaring through the gate in John’s old muscle car, blasting Johnny Cash, just as the perps had wriggled their way into the garage. Apparently that was frightening enough that the perps threw themselves back out the window after doing not much more than tipping over some cans of paint.

It was probably the Johnny Cash that did it.

Although Louis says he and John had the windows down and were engaged in their usual trash talking. As John the Baptist says: “We’re not Librarians.”

In any case, the perps fled down the trail under the Mountain Lion’s sometime lair. Which could have been the cause of some beautiful Instant Karma. However, Joaquin (or Joaquinetta, as John, who’s seen her, claims she’s female) wasn’t in da house at this moment. Pity.

Although it seemed the crime-in-progress was thwarted, I drove up from San Francisco to survey the damage. Reaching back to everything I’ve learned from devotion to three franchises of Law & Order, I determined that the criminals were a disorganized pack of punks. They clearly weren’t competent enough to mount a quick, efficient operation that nabbed items of the most value in the shortest amount of time. Of course, that would assume that there HAD been anything of value for them to grab. Other than an old Ford truck with two flat tires and one dead battery, the garage mostly holds Andy’s large collection of bits and pieces of lumber. Judging from the way he hoards it and won’t let a bit of it be discarded, burned or used, he thinks it’s worth its weight in gold. I’m not sure what it would actually fetch on the open market. Or how, indeed, you would get it down a trail and past a Mountain Lion.

So I’m giving a sigh of relief that everything is intact and we don’t seem to have been targeted by Master Criminals. But that isn’t stopping John and Louis from debating whether they should stockpile weapons and spend a few nights up here. Fair warning: their trigger fingers are itchy.

I don’t think you want to be looking at John and Louis down the barrel of a rifle, do ya PUNK?

Let’s just hope, for the sake of Criminal Sonoma, that they don’t deputize the Mountain Lion.


We just found out one of the criminals signed his name in the dust on the garage door.