But when I go to pull out of my driveway, I notice it's blocked by a black Saturn VUE. Not partially blocked, either; the VUE overlaps more than 2/3 of the driveway. Since there's a telephone pole on the other edge of the driveway, I can't maneuver around it.
Since I don't recognize the car, I spend a half hour going up and down the street knocking on doors. I figure someone, who happens to be a total idiot, might be visiting one of the neighbors. No such luck. Lacking any other effective course of action, I called the Alameda Police.
An officer showed up about ten minutes later and began looking at the car. I headed outside to greet him and ask how long it'd take to get a tow truck...
As it turns out, this vehicle had been reported stolen! It was taken from in front of a house just across the island from us. A few minutes later, the police Crime Scene Unit (consisting of a rather nice lady with a fingerprint kit) showed up and began dusting the car.
I went over some details with the officer. Since my downstairs housemate, 3catsjackson left for work about 9:30, the car must've been abandoned after that time. I noticed it around 11:00. Funny thing is, the car was stolen late last night!
The owners of the car showed up about a half-hour later, just as the CSU officer was finishing her evidence collection. The vehicle was left with its doors locked (and the parking brake set, of all things), so the owners brought the keys to unlock it. The CSU then went over the inside of the car for another fifteen minutes while I chatted with the officer and the owners.
They were a friendly couple in their thirties. They said the odometer indicated that the car was driven between 250 and 300 miles last night. That's some joyride! The owner couldn't guess why they risked bringing it back to Alameda, though; as he said, "if you steal a car on an island, the first thing you should do is get the hell off that island!" [Sheesh... The quality of crooks these days! Not only don't they avoid the island where police are looking for the car, they park it illegally! ;) ]
The officer theorized that the crooks wanted the vehicle to be found and returned, given where they parked it. Especially since they locked it and left the parking brake set. That points to joyriders. Fortunately, the vehicle had little damage; a piece of trim was missing and there were some scrapes in the paint job on the adjacent panel. But no windows broken out or anything. So the owners were able to get their car back in driveable condition.
The officer said they got some decently clear prints but no other strong clues. They might be able to link it with other crimes if it's repeat offenders. All in all, everyone I dealt with was friendly and kept apologizing for the inconvenience of blocking my driveway... Although I was rather peeved earlier that morning about being parked in, having found out the situation my irritation vanished. Their apologies seemed rather odd since I was only mildly inconvenienced while the car owners had much greater hassles to cope with.
So then I went to the hardware store. I bought most of what I needed and returned home. I know, that really isn't exciting, but the story needs closure somehow. :)