License and Registration, Please

6 MAY 24, 10:05

After the meeting Angelica went back to her office, well, office was a misnomer as it was the small nook in her bedroom that had her work laptop, a collection of papers with notes, that she had in piles she knew what they were, even though paperless was the future she still wrote stuff down in, what had been described, as the worst handwriting from a non doctor.

She had run the plate, which should have been a random thing but it brought up more questions then answers, starting with the registered owner of the vehicle, the Motor Vehicles Division had it listed to a 2020 Land Rover Discovery registered to Hertz automotive rentals out of Atlantic City International Airport.

So she placed a phone call to the Hertz desk and was connected.

“Thank you for calling Hertz Auto Rentals, my name is Sarah, are you a member of our Gold club?”

“No Sarah, my name is Special Agent Angelica Passolini, Coast Guard Investigative Service, I would like it if you could check the rental status of a vehicle registered to yoru company?”

“Certianly.” Sarah Oslowski, had a long family history with various law enforcement agencies in New Jersey, her father was a detective, her uncles were New Jersey State troopers, and two of her brothers were officers with the NYPD. Even her sister was married to a Constable in the RCMP having moved to Canada for a job after college, and Sarah herself had an application in with the Port Authority Police Department, “May I have the license number?”

“License is Sam one seven paul william henry.”

“Ok I show that car is still on the lot.”

“Can you have someone check if there is still a plate on it?”

“I’ll have a manager check.”

“And call me back.” Angelica provided her cell number.

“Of course.”

“Thank you.”

After hanging up she heard a knock at the door and got up to open it, “Buzz, Come in, Coffee’s in the kitchen, I’ve got more questions then answers.”  

“Hey,” returned Buzz, with a flash of a smile as he dutifully followed Angelica into her assigned space. He jostled a paper bag as he wandered on through to make them both a coffee. “I brought cookies,” he said, then raised an eyebrow. “Okay, let’s break ’em down and start hittin’ em then,” he suggested amicably, and continued straight into another question for his partner. “Whatcha got so far, Angie?”

“Ran the plate. It came back to a Land Rover registered to…..” She grabbed a sheet of paper she had scribbled information, “Hertz auto rental Atlantic City international airport.” She paused, “Playing a hunch I called Hertz, that car, is still on the lot.”

A quick frown, then Buzz scrunched up his face. “So someone switched the plates? Or made up duplicates. Any other lead on who?” He handed Angelica a mug and the bag of cookies for her to choose from. “I can make a couple guesses on the why,” he added.  

She took the mug and grabbed a cookie, it was a peanut butter, her favorite, then sipped the beverage, “I’ve got them looking to see if the plate is missing, and probably a quick way to hide illegal activity, police get the wrong plate, might give them time to get away.”

Then her phone trilled before Buzz could answer, Angelica put it on speaker, “This is Special agent Passolini.”

“Hi this is Raymond, I’m the manager here at Hertz, we had a lot attendant check that Landrover you asked about, there are no license plates on the vehicle, we’ve called the Police.”

“Great, tell them it involves a Federal investigation, and we’ll be getting in touch.”

“Ok, we can e-mail the internal report. If you’d like.”

“Raymond, you are my hero.” She gave him her work e-mail and the call ended. “The game is afoot Watson.” Blame her father, he loved old movies, and Basil Rathborne as Sherlock Holmes was one of his favorites.

Halfway through an oat and raisin cookie, Buzz nodded in confirmation. Smart work. Efficient skills. Looked like he lucked out in the partner stakes here, which was a great start. His own phone, nestled in the back pocket of his trousers, picked up with a custom ringtone so he extricated it, silenced it and waited for Angelica to finish her call. 

“I’m Watson, huh?” He responded to his partner, the inflection of good humour wrapped lazily about those words. “I’ll take that, long as you handle any violin playing.” He checked his phone – old Army buddy – and silently made a promise to return that later. “Okay, sweet work, Sherlock,” Buzz told Angelica. “So we know the how. Now we just need to find out the why. Local PD, or straight to Atlantic City?”

“We don’t have to go that far, CGPD has the car in impound because it was on our base, we can go look at the car it’self.” She saw his confused expression and continued. “I have a hunch that there’s something in that car. It’s the only logical sense, they’re either muling, or something else.”

Second cookie demolished swiftly, washed down with a gulp of black coffee, Buzz canted his head and regarded Angelica. “Hunch, huh?” He asked, rhetotically. “Well, we better go look then, yeah.” Another mouthful of coffee followed, then he stood back up. “C’mon, let’s go, I’m curious now.”

Coast Guard Police Impound Lot
Cape May, NJ

It was an uneventful drive over, she had restrained her enthusiasm which might have resulted in a speeding ticket, since as she learned one day military cops do not play around, the framed citation from the Kirtland Air Force Base security police on her wall at home testified to that. So she managed to stick within the speed limit, which was a rare thing for someone who normally considered them more like guidelines.

They arrived at the vehicle. It was the farthest thing from a land rover you could be, a Nissan SUV which while similar in design but not exact.

Both agents put on gloves and she unlocked the vehicle. “I got a hunch, there’s a trap compartment in this car. It fits what we’d expect, luxury vehicle not rented much from a large rental place, get a set of dummy plates, and a trap to hide either drugs, or something else contraband.” she looked at her partner, “It was very common back in Albuquerque, my partner in patrol showed me this, it’s big business.” She was giving a bit of a lecture, but this was something she knew pretty well.

Buzz had taken a call from one of his kids on the drive over – mostly consisted of offering up random praise to an ever developing story of school moments and an ability to eat broccili – but he’d kept it goodnatured and let Angelica listen to both sides, purely for her amusement. Three year olds were generally good long-distance entertainment. 

At the car then, he listened to his partner’s verbal explanation of her gut feeling. And nodded. He’d encountered this set-up before, but it hadn’t been his first thought in this scenario. Never though, underestimate intuition. 

“I’ll take the driver’s side, you take the passenger?” He offered, with a wonky smile then flexed his gloved hands in a ready-when-you-are-gesture and opened the driver’s door.

“Sounds good.” She pulled the smaller pair of gloves on, and then they dug in, one nice thing about larger cars more places to hide things, checking the glove box it was clean, like she expected, she ran her hands along the sides and found a small gap, out came her flashlight and she found a small compartment, which she was able to pop open, and find a back of some sort of substance, off to the lab with that, probably something like meth, a speed loader with 6 rounds and some loose wires.  

“Bingo.” She said to sort of herself then pulled out the wires, first she used her work phone to document the evidence, pictures were uploaded to the secure server here, and she then played a hunch and touched the wires together, a portion of the dashboard opened. “Gotcha.”

Reaching in she took out a revolver, silver. “Gun.”  

Like his partner, Buzz was meticulously checking his own side of the vehicle, to no avail whatsoever. No secrets, just a cloth in the driver’s side door, the crumpled up paper mat that had been in the footwell and some candy wrappers. 

“Awesome,” he said as he heard the click and the dashboard revealed its hidden secret. “Good shout, Angie,” he added. “Totally called it.” Buzz finished his sweep and looked to see what she’d found. “Ruger .357 Magnum?” He asked, but he knew already. “Someone meant business, but looks like they mighta got away clean…” He picked the wrappers out and bagged them. “Either way, we can check for any prints, they might have missed something.”

She hit the cylinder release and looked at the 6 rounds in there, each primer was dimpled, then she sniffed, gunpowder. “It’s been fired pretty recently.” she closed the cylinder then placed it in a plastic bag, “I’d say we need to call Atlantic City PD, figure out if they’re working a shooting, because I got 5 bucks we just recovered the weapon.”

Scroll to Top