Kenmare ND - Upside Down Under

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Upside Down Under

By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News


Oops, I got the wrong vehicle

Posted 5/17/16 (Tue)

The other day I stopped at the Cenex convenience store in Kenmare to get a sandwich and as I often do, pulled up close to the door.

I was waiting for my sandwich and a man came in the store, presumably to pay for gas because he didn’t buy anything in the convenence store.

He had really long, black hair, a full beard and was quite tall and thin, but what was even more noticeable was a limp.

Anyway, I overheard him say something to the cashier but I couldn’t hear what it was as I was too far away to hear it.

But I did see him point to the area where my vehicle was parked and that kind of brought up a red flag.

By the time I went to pay for my lunch, the guy was gone, but I asked the cashier if he was pointing at my vehicle and my first thought was that he rear ended me since his gold Chevrolet pickup was parked right behind my black Ford pickup.

She said yes he was. In fact, he got in it not realizing it wasn’t his and he came back into the store to tell her what he did.

I’m not sure how you could not tell gold from black, Chevy from Ford on a sunny April afternoon?

No harm no foul, right? There was nothing of value in there except a machete and a drover’s jacket, but I have to think what if there had been?

What if I had left the keys in the ignition and my camera equipment was sitting on the front seat, what if I just made a big withdrawal from the bank and had the envelope sitting in the unlocked vehicle, worse yet, what if the grandchildren were sitting in the back seat? What if the guy was an opportunist instead of just being half asleep?

There was a landmark kidnapping case about 10 years, when somebody left their car running to go into a hospital in Winnipeg for a few minutes.

When the person came out the vehicle and the baby in the vehicle were gone.

A frantic search went on for days until finally, the baby magically appeared at Altru Hospital in Grand Forks and the kidnapper has never been found.

No. 1, how did the kidnapper even have the time to get out of a city the size of Winnipeg with a stolen car?

No. 2, it’s amazing that whoever it was, crossed the border into North Dakota without being detected. We can only assume the vehicle crossed the international boundary on some deserted trail or minimum maintenance road that doesn’t have a port of entry.

No. 3, this individual took care of the baby for several days and after being examined at Altru, the baby was said to be just fine.

Shortly after I moved to Langdon in 1996, one of the city council members, Alvin Carlson, was giving me a tour around town.

We pulled up to a business and as we got out, I clicked the lock on the passenger side door and I’ll never forget what he said to me, “This is Langdon, you don’t have to lock your doors.”

That felt pretty good knowing the community must be that safe that a city official would make a statement like that to a reporter.

But as time went on, two young brothers, who were wanted for a slew of crimes in Louisiana, got denied access into Canada at the Pembina port of entry, and guess where they ended up, Langdon.

Things were a little shaky while those two lived in an apartment with no jobs and coincidentally, tools and welding supplies began disappearing from farm shops.

We like to think that Kenmare is a safe enough community to leave our doors unlocked, just as I did that day at Cenex. But, I guess I learned a valuable lesson, even though nothing was taken.

Living and working so close to U.S. Highway 52 can sometimes cause strange things to surface.

Since I’ve been here, I’ve reported on shots being fired at a passing semi, a man being sentenced in a Regina court for trying to take illegal weapons into Canada and a kidnapping that took place in Tok, Alaska and the guy was trying to  bring the child into North Dakota.

Unusual people pass through here, the same way those cajun brothers wound up in Langdon.

Any day of the week, I can be walking down the street and see unlocked vehicles, sometimes those vehicles are running, purses sitting on the front seat, weapons displayed on a rear view window rack, sports equipment scattered about or even groceries or a case of beer sitting on the seat.

Do yourselves a favor, lock your doors. The guy in my vehicle just made a dumb mistake. Criminals are looking for that sort of thing.