This I Believe

Harry - Alexandria, Virginia
Entered on October 5, 2006
Age Group: 65+

The Art of Bounty Hunting

Bounty hunting is alive and well in Alexandria, Virginia. And there’s plenty of business to go around. I bring this up because of all the hoopla from Dog the Bounty Hunter’s derring-do, which has gained much acclaim from his popular television show.

For a decade in my eclectic professional career I enjoyed the bail bond business. It was interesting and could be fun. I made a lot of friends. Some still owe me money but can’t pay because they’re serving long jail terms. On occasion I had to go hunting and I did.

One particular weekend, I had to find an Alexandrian on whom I risked a $5,000 bond. The court agreed to a brief extension or else I’d have to fork over the cash – every dollar. I checked out every address, including his girlfriends’ apartments and other assorted places to no avail. When I least expected it his mother called and said he would be on a train stopping in Alexandria. He was coming to mama’s house for supper. My good fortune.

So not to alarm other passengers I donned a clerical collar with a sporty shirt and Panama hat. A Transit policeman was taken aback when I introduced myself. But he was willing to help.. As we discussed technique, the 5:15 PM train arrived. I looked up and there was my man, walking smartly down the steps, all smiles with a pretty girl on his arm. I walked up to him as though I was passing out a religious tract and slapped the handcuffs on him. He didn’t know what to say. I said, “Bless you, my son.”

Sometimes bounty hunters can run into jurisdictional disputes that can be testy. The court had given me a Virginia warrant authorizing arrest of a young man on another $5,000 in southeast Washington, D.C. I headed across the 14th Street Bridge, visited the police precinct in southeast to present my credentials and court orders. I found no professional courtesy. The police commander warned me I’d be arrested for kidnapping if I grabbed the defendant. The district doesn’t allow bondsmen or bounty hunters. I wouldn’t risk spending one second in the D. C. facility.

I tracked down the bond-jumper though. He simply didn’t want to return across the Potomac River. I gave him a choice on the phone, and without hesitation, he agreed Alexandria’s was best.

“Be Prepared” is a very good motto. On a spring Sunday morning, I tracked an elusive bond jumper to a convenience store. The 24-year-old decided not to come quietly with me, he wouldn’t cooperate when I tried to handcuff him and most certainly he wasn’t returning to jail. I struggled with him for a moment. He pulled away and then I drew my .38-cal. Smith & Wesson. I threatened to shoot him dead on the spot. Fortunately, a police officer came to my aid. The guy kept yelling that “the old guy” was threatening to shoot him.

“I know him,” said one policeman. “I believe he would have shot you, too.”

At that moment I realized youth was a thing of my past. And, it was probably time I looked for another line of work or perhaps return to my computer keyboard. There are a million stories out there and these are just a few in “the Naked City.”