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Comments & Curiosities: They're not the brightest crayons in the box…

January 08, 2011|By Peter Buffa

Sometimes I worry. The crime rate has been dropping lately, and that worries me. If there are fewer crimes, there would be fewer loopy and/or dumb crimes for me to write about, which is not good. But then a gaggle of loopy crime stories comes along and I feel better.

Like now.

First there was Melanie Astin, the Newport Beach woman who was arrested by Newport Beach police Dec. 23 for her allegedly unusual spin on last-minute Christmas shopping. Instead of fighting the crowds at Fashion Island or South Coast Plaza, Astin is suspected of tailing FedEx and UPS trucks on their appointed rounds around Newport Beach. When a driver dropped a box, or two, at the front door, Melanie would allegedly swoop in and borrow them, permanently, according to police.

Police, according to news reports, found a number of items from Santa in her car, just not to her.

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It's not the loopiest file in the folder marked "Loopy Crimes/Newport-Mesa," but it ain't bad. How was this supposed to work exactly? These are open, airy Newport Beach neighborhoods in which you have to march up to the front door — not knowing if that door is about to open or not — pick up a box or two, hustle back to your car, check another name off your list, and drive off, except you have no idea if you just got your niece a Prada bag or an ink cartridge for a Canon printer.

Then, just this week, we got to meet the Duncans, Chris and Robin, a young couple from Newport Coast, a beautiful place replete with beautiful homes, one of which, 10 Hidden Pass, was home to the Duncans. But, as sometimes happens, in Newport Coast, M. Night Shyamalan films and life ... things are not always what they seem. No. 10 Hidden Pass was home to the Duncans but it was not their home.

Were they renting it? They were not. Did it belong to a relative? It did not. A friend? No.

According to prosecutors, the Duncans were squatters, who not only moved into the Hidden Pass home illegally but had been living in it for months, the Pilot reported. Apparently, they are not just squatters but serial squatters who had been tracking foreclosures and moving into homes that were standing vacant without actually, well, asking anyone if that would be OK, least of all the owners.

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