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"Heyyyy now, boss. Watch that dummy stuff, O.K.? The key won't work on the lock."
"What? What? The key...."
Later that same day Colonel Walter A. McQueeney, chief of police in Providence, calls up from Florida, where he is recuperating from an illness: "What's new?"
"Golf balls, Chief."
"Whaddaya mean, golf balls?"
He hears the report. Silence. Then: "Wait a minute, now. You mean to tell me that somebody drove right through the gate, loaded 144,000 golf balls, and nobody saw them?"
Yep, Chief, it was that simple. Between 4:30 p.m. on Sunday and 7:30 a.m. on Monday, with a guard on duty, a person or persons unknown, absconded with 144,000 golf balls—America's finest, so says the company. The loss is $180,000, a sum that places it right up there with two other sporting robberies of recent years.
Ordinarily, thieves tend to ignore sports, perhaps because of their own interest and enthusiasm for them. But when they do turn toward sports, they are brilliantly selective. In 1969, for instance, there occurred what became commonly known as the Brooklyn Delicatessen Caper. It was there, underneath the elevated tracks, that $1.3 million in coin and used bills vanished from an armored truck on its way from Aqueduct Racetrack to the bank. The guards on the truck favored this delicatessen, especially for its Braun-schweiger and cheese-on-rye with a slice of Bermuda onion. On this day, one of them went in for a sandwich and came back with a .38 at each ear.
By comparison, the robbery of a bus filled with horseplayers on its way to Delaware Park seems small potato salad. Yet it was not without elementary logic. Who is going to put the hit on a horseplayer after he leaves the track?
Not much creativity, though, is visible in the Uniroyal number—until you think for a moment. "It was very unimaginative," says Chief McQueeney, slightly aggrieved about it all. Yes, so it would seem, but as all those who snicker at the bumbling Dr. Watson ought to recall, the obvious appears obvious only after somebody has done it.