Detective Challenge Answers Page

This is the page of "answers" for the Detective Challenge pages.

Part 1

1. Ford Dent 
Unknown. My best guess, after reading all the responses, is that someone kicked the door when it was parked in a way which dissatisfied them. The dent is probably divided because there is a horizontal brace within the door at that height.

2. Honda wheel cover 
Unknown. My best guess, after reading all the responses, is that the driver backed into a weight bar perched on the top of a weightlifting bench.

3. Toyota wheel cover 
Unknown. My best guess, after reading all the responses, is that the cover was scratched as it was dragged on the ground, perhaps it was leaned against the truck, and caught a breeze, sending it onto its back, and along the road.

4. Electronic Sign 
Unknown. When I took the photo, I thought the damage was from a fire. However, after reading all the responses, I believe the damage was caused by high wind.

5. Bag Handles 
Unknown. My best guess was that the handle-less bag was used for shoplifting, and after reading all the responses, think that the bag was lined with aluminum foil (a "booster bag") and placed within another shopping bag to thwart electronic article surveillance. The elevator location seems to support a criminal origin.

Part 2

6. Crushed Car 
Unknown. My best guess, after reading all the responses, I think it was crushed by a falling tree branch. All the damage was caused by an almost vertical force.

7. Diaper Bench 
Known! These scattered items were left behind when a thief stole a purse and rifled through it, looking for valuables. I found this mess at the dentist office complex at 8am on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. It was a very slow day at the office complex. The origins of this scene didn't occur to me as I entered the dentist, but when I emerged, I realized what may have happened. The little red card holder was actually under the bench when I found it, and inside were two identical business cards. That was enough to convince me that this was the card of the owner. I called her cell phone and left a message, then began calling her office phone. Her return call interrupted my message. 

"Yes, my car was broken into, and they stole my purse. Where is it? I'll be right down." 

As this unfolded, I was thinking, "well, she is going to be disappointed, because there is nothing of value remaining here."

She emerged from right around the corner with an infant in her arms. As she approached, she paused, "Hey, are you the guy with the website?"

"Yes!" Now this was a triumph! Definitely one of the most curious circumstances I've been a part of. 

She let me know that the purse that had been stolen was new, from Marshall's (A clothing store), and had not yet been transitioned into her working purse. The thief had gotten nothing! 

Her husband wrote to report: 
Item #2 is the contents of my wife's purse after someone smashed her car window to get her purse. 
The purse @$20 wasn't a loss. Those items were the ONLY contents of said purse. Our insurance covered the broken window. As for the window smashing thief, I wish the pox on your firstborn. Then again all you got was an inexpensive purse. I wish the diapers had been dirty.

She didn't recover much, but the experience of knowing "what happened next" is sometimes a relief. Also, the red card holder was a recent acquisition from overseas, so she was happy to recover it.

I urge anyone who finds a dumped purse to attempt to contact the owner, even if nothing inside seems valuable.

Part 3

8. Fence Marks 
Unknown. My best guess, after reading all the responses, is that the marks are from a power washer being used to remove spray paint graffiti from the fence.

Part 4

9. Unknown. My best guess, after reading all the responses, is that they are shoe covers used by doctors in the nearby UC Davis Medical Center, which were then discarded onto the street before the doctor drove home. The only doubt comes from my perhaps naive belief that doctors don't typically litter.

Great answers on this one! Kudos to those that found the nearby hospital on Google maps.

Part 5

10. Unknown. My best guess, after reading all the responses, is that the lock twisted out when the key got stuck. The clip that holds it on the door seems to have popped off.

I don't think that it was broken into by a thief with a screwdriver.

This car is always parked near mine, so hopefully I'll be able to get the real answer soon.


I asked Courtney what happened to her car, and she wrote:



Actually both locks are broken. My car has been broken into repeatedly! I'm not sure why though, because I keep nothing in it of value. As a result, my car remains permanently unlocked. You might also have noticed the snapped door handle, that was only a result of use, old age, and cold. My poor car. So sad looking. And no, I don't mind at all! My car will enjoy its 20 seconds of fame!

Part 6

Unknown. My best guess, after reading all the responses, is that the pills were prescribed recently and sold to someone else, probably an addict, and the containers were both tossed, to avoid being traced back to their source by law enforcement.

Part 7

Unknown. My best guess, after reading all the responses, is that the branches were hit by a truck and broke off. 

I am pretty surprised that someone would keep going after breaking one branch, but I guess they must have.

Perhaps they were reversing.

Part 8

Known. The blue taped line was a guide that ended at the line of cashiers. Customers were lined up in single file, and this was an attempt to control how the customers lined up around the store. 

Part 9

Unknown. The round hangers were designed to hold potted plants. The real mystery was the hangers which were broken. I think someone locked their bike to the hangers, and that the rings were cut by a thief who stole the bike.

Furthermore, I think that the restaurant management had the mangled remains of the plant holders sawn away cleanly.

Part 10


The  rear window was broken when the owner was tossing a load of firewood logs into the bed of the truck. 

He tossed the last log a bit too high, and it struck the rear window, cracking it.

I think two people guessed this one correctly. It was not an easy one.

Coincidently, the long level was responsible for the crack in the front windshield.

Part 11

Unknown. My best guess, after reading all of the answers, is that the pills were shoplifted, removed from their blister packs, and eaten.

I had assumed that someone must be making meth, but some bright someone wrote that these were allergy medications, not cold and flu relief.  

This is the difference between Sudafed and Benedryl.

Benedryl gets abused directly. Its ability to inhibit the reuptake of serotonin provides a slight hallucinogenic effect.


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December 12,  2006 

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