Capping Off the Year With a Little Inadvertent B&E

Jan 04, 2024 by HL Bernabe, in Throwback Thursday


So how do I explain? Were there cops involved? You betcha. No less than two cop cars showed up at the scene of the crime. Well... crime is a pretty strong word. Crime usually means there is intent involved. In my defense, I did not intend to break into the very dead, yet very well lit XYZ Store* in Salt Lake City, UT. Apparently, this store’s employees were all gone enjoying the holiday. They were probably all watching the beautiful fireworks displays I had passed on the freeway on my way into SLC. Lucky bastards. There should be a law against fireworks displays too close to the freeway. It’s very distracting to drivers, who watch the fireworks and not the roads. Not that I would do such a thing. Of course not. I was 100% focused on the road. Oooh, pretty! Um…what was I saying?

Oh, yeah. It was an accident that I broke in. No, really, officer, it was.

It all started with this load and the paperwork for it. I noticed that on the bill of lading that it said the load wasn’t supposed to be delivered until January the 2nd. Yet in my load assignment, it said I was supposed to deliver it on New Year's Eve. I got to thinking about it and got the bright notion that there might be a problem here. I mean, what if I show up and I’m two days early and they won’t take the load yet? Some places dislike it if you deliver early. Wondering if the planners got their info twisted, I sent a message to my driver manager (DM) and asked what I should do. Her response was to "deliver it on the 31st, like the load assignment said." Okaaaayyy….

I had a feeling nobody would be home. Tomorrow, the freaking first of January, is a freaking national holiday. Tonight, there are lots of drinking and partying and fireworks to send off the new year. Well, I’m in a Mormon town, so maybe there won’t be so much drinking, but there will be merrymaking, no doubt. What company would have their employees working tonight?

But the DM said to deliver it, so I showed up at my appointment time. The store was brightly lit, though it looked pretty empty. But then I remembered the XYZ Store isn’t open 24 hours like Walmart. So I figured only the receiving crew was going to be there. I parked the truck and approached the receiving door.

In my defense, the receiving door did NOT say it was closed. In fact, it had a sign with the receiving hours, which were until midnight, and I was within that time frame. I didn’t spy any doorbell, so I tried the door and walked in. Right inside the door was a little room or vestibule where drivers would go to a window to check in.

As I walked in, I heard “WOOWOOWOOWOOWOOWOOWOOWOOWOOWOOWOOWOOWOOWOOWOO!!!” It was DEFINITELY NOT the silent variety. I wondered if people in the next state over could hear it. Then I wondered why would the alarm go off, when the store was supposed to be open for receiving. This qualified as weird.

I had to raise my voice to compete with the alarm. “Heelloooo? Anybody home?”

No answer. I waited for five or ten minutes, periodically shouting for somebody. I tried the inner door of this little room, since it went to the unloading area. But it was locked. Darn. I thought I might peek my head in there and see if I could spot someone. Now, why I thought somebody would just be hanging out in there totally ignoring the alarm and me, I have no idea. When a giant alarm is going off that is so loud it drowns out your thoughts, it’s hard to be rational.

I decided to try the front of the store and see if I could track somebody down. As if it is any more logical for people to be hanging out in the front of a closed store, also totally ignoring the alarm. I don’t think I’m winning any brainiac awards tonight, that’s for sure.

Of course, nada.

I headed back to my truck and called my company. It occurred to me it had been fifteen minutes and still no cops. I mentioned this to the guy I’m talking to on the phone and right after I said it, two cop cars came rolling up.

One cop approached my truck and pounded on my door. I opened up and smiled sheepishly. He said something like, “The alarm’s going off. You know anything about that?”

“Uhh…yeah. That’s my fault. I went to the receiving door to check in, because I was told to deliver this load tonight, but when I opened the door, the alarm went off.” I told him about the load time mixup and everything.

“The door was unlocked?” he asked.

“Yeah. I just opened it and it started going ‘woowoowoo’.” I imitated the alarm as best I could. However, I did it in a much quieter manner than the original.  

The cop (both cops were kind of cute in that man-in-a-uniform sort of way) asked for my ID and I gave him my phone number. He wrote the info down. Then the store manager showed up. I told her what happened, and she looked relieved but very annoyed. I imagine the employee responsible for locking that door is going to be in trrroouuublle. She was nice to me, though.

I was a little worried that this little caper would end up with me trying on some metal bracelets for size and getting a free ride in the back of a cop car, but fortunately, the police and the manager were understanding. It occurred to me later that blurting out, “It’s my fault; I set off the alarm,” probably isn’t the brightest thing to do when dealing with the police, either. But no Miranda rights had been read, so…that means they can’t use it against me, right? Right? Then again, I’ve always believed honesty is the best policy, and in this case, it worked.

Thank goodness for that. I wasn’t looking forward to going to jail. Though a cavity search might have been interesting. I don’t get a lot of action out here on the road.

I have to say, a lot of weird stuff has happened to me before while out here doing this job, and this is a first for me. I’ve never broken into a store (albeit inadvertently) and set off an alarm and had cops swarming about before. And yes, two cops are a swarm when you are alone and are worried you are going to prison. So this experience was a fun one to add to my list of stories to tell any grandchildren that I might have someday.

*The XYZ Store is a name I made up to protect the store. I’m sure the management of the store doesn’t need to have the public know that they had an unlocked door and that it takes at least fifteen minutes for cops to show up in response to the alarm going off…