Don't you just love a good whodunit kind of story? In this case, the trouble I'm having writing such a story is I can't figure out who done it or even what they did.

My story started about a week ago when I received a call from a reliable source – my neighbor – to advise me about a suspicious person who seemed to be casing or staking out our neighborhood. Shortly thereafter, I e-mailed a message to warn my neighbors:

Sub: Incident in our neighborhood you should note!

Dear Neighbors...

I received a call earlier this evening about an unusual incident in our neighborhood last night. My friend took his dog for a walk late last night about 11:30 and noticed someone walking some distance behind him. He was just rounding the corner near the entrance and the individual continued to follow him all the way around the block.

When my friend got back to his house, he immediately went to his front door to see if the individual was still walking up the street. There is a streetlight in front of his house and when the person who had been following him walked under the light, my friend noticed the person was dressed all in black and wearing a ski mask pulled down over his face, which in my opinion is highly unusual in the heat of August!

At that point my friend's dog started to growl at the front door, so he secured the dog and immediately slipped out of his house to follow the person dressed in black. By then whoever it was had disappeared and was nowhere to be seen, even though only a couple of seconds had passed since that person walked under the street light in front of his home.

My friend called police and two squad cars arrived within a couple of minutes. The police drove around the neighborhood using their searchlights, but saw nobody.

I am not trying to alarm you, but even though we live in a lovely neighborhood, we need to be careful about locking our doors and our cars if they are not parked in the garage. I normally do not want to waste electricity, but I plan to leave my outdoor lights, especially out back, turned on for the next few nights and I am forwarding a copy of this notice to the board of directors for our homeowners association so they will pass this on to the person in charge of our Neighborhood Watch Program.



A week later, I received another call from my friend so I e-mailed a second notice to bring my neighbors up to date:

Sub: Stalker in our neighborhood apprehended last night :)

Dear Neighbors ...

I received a call earlier today from my reliable source to let me know a teenager wearing a ski mask and casing/stalking our neighborhood was apprehended by the police last night. I don't know what the teen was charged with, but it was probably something like "Walking without a dog or doggy bag." Now we can all sleep good at night.

I don't know if this teen had criminal intent. He may have just been living out some fantasy, and if so, he should be charged with being very, very stupid! Unfortunately, that is not against the law here in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and there is probably no cure for it.

Sincerely, Rick

Rick Bailey is....