You don't want to sit in the back of a City of Miami police car. There is no leg room, the seats are hard plastic, and if you want to leave the door handles don't work.
It started Saturday afternoon when my wife and I had our bikes stolen. It was a crime of opportunity and we should have had our front gate locked.
The next afternoon I got around to calling the City of Miami police to report the theft. A half-hour later Officer Robert Perez was at our door, ready to fill out a crime report. The three of us walked out to the street so I could show him how it happened.
Just then, looking over the officer's shoulder, I saw five young men zip by on bicycles. The were 80 yards away -on the next street- but one of the bikes looked a lot like mine. The officer and I took off in different directions, he in his car and me on my son's bike.
I happened to go where they were heading. As I rounded a corner I met the gang of 16 year-olds head on. They stopped and I stopped. Their leader sat smiling astride my big blue Specialized bicycle. No one said a word as I approched. With twenty feet between us they turned and broke away.
Yes, I chased them but kids are so damn fast. They zoomed up the cut-through path at Loquat and Plaza and into the West Grove.
Panting heavily I head home and met up again with Officer Perez. His front seat was filled with paperwork. He suggested that I ride in the back of his cop car so we could go looking for my bike.
As the two of us roamed around we finally passed a 14 year-old riding Francesca's bicycle. We recovered the bike, took it home, and thrilled my waiting wife. The officer and I went looking for "Big Blue" again.
In "Peewee's Big Adventure" Peewee Herman crossed half of America looking for his stolen bike. The officer and I zigged and zagged through the West Grove for an hour in search of mine. At one point we passed the spot where a visiting tourist had been killed for his gold chain four years ago. The blood I saw then has long since washed away.
Officer Perez could not have been nicer. As we drove around I learned he had joined the city's police force eleven years ago. Since then, as a member of our National Guard, he has spent two tough years serving in Iraq and Afganistan. After a while my stolen bike seemed like small potatoes. When it got dark we stopped looking. Peewee never found his bike either.
Francesca's bike is now parked safely in our guest room. As he dropped me off I thanked Officer Perez for his help. He told me he'll be looking for Big Blue again tomorrow.