Thief Caught!

By Linda Porter Carlyle

Joseph Anderson Donetti filled his arms with a load of wood from the shed. He started down the path to the back door of the Beekman House. This wood was heavy stuff! No wonder pioneer boys had been so strong. They had had to carry wood every day for chores, not just once a week for volunteering.

“Let me get the door for you,” a familiar voice said.

Joseph looked up. “Thank you,” he said politely.

Mr. Evans held the door wide open and Joseph walked into the kitchen. He very carefully put the wood in the wood box. He was not going to drop any logs on the floor and get scolded by Louise again!

“Dad! Dad!” Mac exclaimed. “What are you doing here? How did you know we need you?”

“I just dropped by to see you and Joseph all dressed up in costumes and working. And to get a warm cookie!” he added, reaching toward the big plate on the table.

“Dad! We think the person who stole the artifacts last week is here again today!” Mac hissed.

Mr. Evans looked startled.

Louise came back into the kitchen at that moment. “Oh! I’m glad to see you!” she whispered. Together, she and Mac told Mr. Evans about the woman with the big tote bag.

“I’m not positive it is the same woman,” Mac said. “She has different hair. But I’m pretty sure it’s the same knitting bag.”

“I warned the other volunteers to keep their eyes on her,” Louise said.

Joseph’s mouth hung open. He did not want to go back outside and sweep the walks. He wanted to stay in the house where the action was!

“I’ll just hang around here in the kitchen for a little while,” Mr. Evans said. “I’ll eat a cookie or two and see what develops. I don’t suppose you have any milk, do you?” he asked hopefully.

“Nope. No milk,” Louise answered. She twisted her hands in her apron. “If that woman tries to steal something today, I sure hope we can catch her at it!” she said.

Suddenly the upstairs volunteer hurried into the kitchen. “There’s another artifact missing!” she gasped. “The jewelry box from the big bedroom!”

“Where is the woman you suspect?” Mr. Evans asked, brushing cookie crumbs from his fingers.

Later that evening, Joseph and G.M. walked across the grass to Mac’s house for supper. Joseph carried a big bowl of green salad that he had made all by himself. G.M. carried two different kinds of salad dressing.

“Come in! Come in!” Mac called, flinging the back door open. “Dad won’t tell me anything until you get here. He said he hates to tell a story more than once. But I know that’s not true! He just likes making me wait!”

Joseph and G.M. climbed the porch steps and hurried inside. “What happened?” Joseph asked Mr. Evans. “What happened? Was that lady the real thief? Did you arrest her?”

Mr. Evans laughed. He folded up the newspaper he had been reading. “Sit down. Sit down,” he said. “I’ll tell you all about it.”

Everybody sat down at the table. Even Mrs. Evans stopped bustling around the pots on the stove and sat down too. All eyes were on Mr. Evans.

Mr. Evans looked at Mac. “I guess the Southern Oregon Historical Society will want to thank you,” he said. “I understand that you were the first person who suspected that woman of being last week’s thief.”

“She was?” Mac screeched. “She really was the same person? She truly was the thief?”

Mr. Evans nodded. “When I stopped her on the way to her car, I found the jewelry box from the upstairs bedroom in her knitting bag. I took her down to the police station, and I brought a deputy back to Beekman House with me to check out her car. We found the antique comb and brush set that she took last week. And we found many other antiques all wrapped up and stored in boxes in the trunk.

“When we fingerprinted her,” Mr. Evans went on, “we found out that she is wanted for theft in California too. I’m proud of you and your sharp eyes, Mac!” he praised.

Mac’s cheeks were red from pleasure. Her eyes shone.

“How did you happen to notice that the tote bag was the same one she carried last week?” G.M. asked.

Mac thought for a minute. “Whenever I ask one of Mom’s friends what they’re knitting, they always want to stop and show it to me. They’re always proud of what they’re making,” she explained. “But when I asked that woman last week what she was knitting, she didn’t even want to talk about it. She seemed kind of embarrassed even. I thought that was very weird! She didn’t sound like a real artist at all!”

G.M. laughed. “I guess that’s a pretty good observation,” she said. “Artists do tend to enjoy showing off what they’ve made.”

“Mac, you have been a real service to your community,” Mr. Evans said. “You’ve helped Beekman House, plus who-knows-how-many antique stores that woman stole from, to recover their artifacts. And you helped to prevent her from stealing from anyone else. At least for a while,” he added.

“You mean after she gets out of jail she might steal again?” Joseph asked. He couldn’t believe it.

“It’s true,” Mr. Evans said. “Many thieves pay for their crime by going to jail. And when they get out, they begin to steal all over again. Going to jail doesn’t necessarily change a person’s heart.”

Joseph didn’t hear the next part of the conversation around the table. He was deep in thought. Suddenly he burst out, “Mac was of service when she helped catch that woman, but we can all be of service too. We can pray that the Lord will change that lady’s heart so she won’t be a thief anymore.”

A slow smile spread over Mr. Evans’s face. “You’re absolutely right!” he said. “I’m so proud of you for thinking of that and reminding us to do it. Let’s do it right now when we ask the Lord to bless our supper.”

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