Chief Brown had just picked up Encyclopedia from the library when the police radio came alive. A robbery was in progress at the Den of Antiquities. Chief Brown, unsure the nature of the robbery or if anyone was armed, went straight to the scene with his 10-year-old son.
When they arrived, they saw shop owner Roger Cuthbert standing out in front of his store, holding young junk collector Winslow Brant by the arm. Cuthbert was claiming that he had caught Winslow in the act. Chief Brown asked Cuthbert to let Winslow go and suggested that everyone went inside so that they could discuss this with civility.
Inside, Cuthbert explained that he had closed up shop for the day. He had more work to do, so he left to get some coffee. When he returned, he saw Winslow standing in front of the store and that the storefront window was broken. Cuthbert noticed that a set of three medallions, together worth thousands of dollars, had been stolen. The Browns looked and saw the sidewalk covered in broken glass.
Winslow admitted that he was in the store earlier that day and that he was interested in the medallions, but he didn’t steal them. Chief Brown asked Winslow to empty his pockets. Winslow complied, but that did not produce the medallions.
Cuthbert wasn’t convinced. He thought that maybe Winslow had stashed them somewhere, or that he was working with someone else and his partner had them. Already, we know that Cuthbert was lying. He said he caught Winslow in the act, but he obviously didn’t. If he had, Winslow would have still had the medallions on him.
Remember that time when Bugs Meany claimed that he had caught Encyclopedia “red-handed,” and Encyclopedia’s entire defense was, “actually, he used that term incorrectly”? That, for some reason, worked. Here, Cuthbert said he had caught a child in the act, and no one batted an eye despite the fact that he was obviously lying.
Chief Brown changed gears and asked if anything else was missing. Cuthbert didn’t know, but it looked like the only thing that was disturbed was the display case where the medallions were being kept. Cuthbert went back to pinning blame on Winslow and went off with a tirade. When he was done, he excused himself so that he could get a piece of plywood to board up the broken window.
Cuthbert disappeared to the back of the store and Chief Brown closed his notebook. “It doesn’t look good, Cuthbert.” Winslow tried to defend himself saying that he hadn’t stolen anything, but Chief Brown already made his decision.
Apparently, the only evidence the police needed was the fact that he had been near the store when the store owner discovered that the window was broken. It was Chief Brown’s job to close cases, not to use common sense, logic or police work to make sure an innocent boy wasn’t blamed for a crime.
Encyclopedia finally spoke up. The broken glass from the window was on the sidewalk, which meant that the window had been broken from the inside. The only person who could have done that was Cuthbert.
It turned out that Cuthbert faked the robbery of his own store, going so far as to break the window for insurance money. We got tricked here, because normally the insurance fraud stories include someone conspicuously mentioning that the item in question was insured.
Since Winslow had been in the store earlier and Cuthbert knew he was interested in the medallions, Cuthbert decided to just try to put the fake robbery on this child, collect insurance money and then sell the medallions.
Any decent adult in Cuthbert’s situation would look at Winslow and think, “Hey, here’s a kid who likes miscellaneous treasures, and I’m a guy who owns a store that sells that sort of thing. In a way, we’re kindred spirits. I should encourage him to come in more often. Maybe I could teach a few things. Hell, maybe he could become a valuable customer in the future. At the very least, as an adult, I should try to set a good example.”
No Cuthbert saw Winslow and thought, “Hey, here’s a kid who likes miscellaneous treasures, and I’m a guy who owns a store that sells that sort of thing. I should frame him for a fake robbery so that I can commit insurance fraud.” So far, everyone we’ve met in Idaville with the name Cuthbert has shown themselves to be a total dick.
And I’d like to reiterate the point that Chief Brown almost arrested a boy despite the complete lack of evidence.