Thursday, September 06, 2007

News! News! News!

Saleem Latif and eleven others arrested!

Saleem Latif out on bail for $200,000!

Saleem Latif said to be ringleader of auto theft ring!

Saleem Latif alleged to have chopped $1 million in auto parts!

Saleem's garage lies in the center of Blissville, just down the block from the Blissville Deli and on the corner of Van Dam, the main thoroughfare. Prime real estate for someone with a garage. Like most of the garages in the neighborhood, Saleem's garage exists mostly to service the Lincoln Towncars he rents out to drivers.

Unlike most of the garages, Saleem always has had a large number of Towncars sitting in his yard and on the street. Many were battered, the rest waited for drivers to rent them.

The owners and workers at other garages shook their head at this. Perhaps Saleem was overextended. Perhaps his business wasn't doing so well. They wondered how he managed to stay in business with so many cars unrented. Perhaps that was why Saleem's garage always stayed open so late, long after the others had closed.

A year ago the police descended upon Blissville and raided Saleem's garage. They accused him of using stolen parts in his car. They took away all his cars.

Saleem looked haggard, nervous, and for days, even weeks, no one saw him. Without his old cars along the sidewalk, the neighborhood looked oddly clean.

But he never closed the garage, and business continued. And in time, Saleem returned. Little by little his fleet grew again. And one by one, the battered cars returned.

It was over this period that he lost many of his mechanics. And so today, when the police swarmed his shop again, only new mechanics were working there.

Did the new mechanics know, that when Saleem gave them a part to instal, that it was stolen?

According the the District Attorney, often, if he needed a part he didn't have, he would send someone out to steal a towncar. He even had a special sticker for his cars so his band of thieves wouldn't mistake his cars from another. He is even accused of registering his cars with proper parts, and then replacing some of their parts with stolen ones.

The mechanics in his shop tried to work as usual. It couldn't have been easy. Television crews and journalists milled about the street, waiting. Other factory workers watched from their doors.

And Michael, the deli owner stood on the corner while cameramen filmed him and his awning, "Blissville Deli."

And Saleem? He pleaded not guilty.


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