Chasing the dragon through the Safeway parking lot
It was 9:47 a.m. on Dec. 16 and a man and woman, apparently intent on the consumption of a small pharmacy of illegal drugs, were sitting in a blue BMW in the Safeway parking lot on West Napa Street.
That’s when Sonoma police arrived, responding to a complaint from a witness who saw what appeared to be suspicious activity involving balloons, straws and tinfoil.
The arriving officers saw a woman in the passenger seat inhaling from a dirty balloon. Her companion was behind the wheel with a glass pipe and a piece of wrinkled tin foil, appearing to be unconscious with his head down as if he had nodded off.
When an officer knocked on the driver’s side window and asked what the man was doing, he lifted his head, his eye lids droopy and, according to the police report, replied, “Smoking Oxycontin.”
The man was removed from the car, placed in handcuffs and positioned on the adjacent curb, at which point officers turned their attention to the woman, who first explained the balloon was for her dog.
Police, however, recognized the various elements inside the car as parts of a drug delivery system called “chasing the dragon” which involves heating the drug of choice (often heroin) on a patch of tin foil and inhaling the resulting smoke through a straw.
In this case, the man appeared to be heating Oxycontin, inhaling the smoke, then exhaling it into a balloon for the woman to consume as second-hand smoke.
When they asked the woman to step out of the car, she at first refused, explaining that she was a pre-law student, knew her rights and did not have to leave the car.
Police suggested that her knowledge of the law did not conform to promising career prospects in that field and removed her from the BMW. A subsequent search turned up a syringe inside her hoodie, along with a tightly-folded $20 bill in her pants.
With a defense strategy not likely to win points in court, she reportedly told police that the syringe wasn’t hers, and neither were the hoodie and pants she was wearing, but the $20 bill was.
Police looked further through a backpack and found new and used syringes, smoking straws, some yellow pills and a folded square of cigarette pack foil, inside of which was what police said appeared to be a small lump of heroin.
The woman, 22-year-old Maria Moonan, of Sonoma, was charged with possession of a controlled substance without a prescription, possession of a narcotic controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Her companion, 22-year-old Ian Boyd of Sacramento, was similarly charged and both were booked in the county jail.
In other incidents reported to local law enforcement:
Friday, Dec. 14:
2:51 p.m. – “Hey, that’s my neighbor.” A resident in the 1300 block of Jones Street told police that a neighbor came to her house to borrow some cat food and that, while the resident was distracted, the neighbor allegedly took her bank card.
The resident subsequently saw a transaction record for a purchase at the Sonoma Safeway store that she had not made, and called police.
Police went to the store armed with the victim’s account number and Safeway personnel identified the checkout counter where the transaction took place. The purchase was matched to a Safeway Club card used for discounts during the transaction. The card, it turned out, belonged to the suspect who had stolen the credit card.
Police had the victim view the surveillance video of the transaction during which her credit card was used and, according to the police report, she exclaimed, “Hey, that’s my neighbor.”
The larcenous neighbor was confronted, admitted the theft, and explained that she had been down on her luck and needed groceries.
She was charged with burglary, credit card theft and a probation violation.
3:33 p.m. – Nearly naked in the window. A resident in the 500 block of East Verano, who has a 15-year-old daughter, notified police that a man in a neighboring apartment had walked past his open window wearing an open robe that exposed his genitals. She told police the man stopped and looked at her through their facing windows and did not cover himself.
Police contacted the 34-year-old, nearly naked neighbor and questioned him. He admitted walking past the window and said he often is naked in his apartment, but insisted he did not expose himself deliberately.
The woman insisted it had happened “numerous times.”
Police cautioned the man not to let it happen again and filed an informational report.
7:40 p.m. – Don’t drop the Wild Turkey. A 29-year-old denizen of Sonoma’s frequent-flying subculture walked into the Rite Aid Store in the Maxwell Village shopping center and allegedly put a $23.49 bottle of Wild Turkey whiskey under his coat, turned around and started to walk out. A store employee who witnessed the heist tried to stop the man, who resisted by biting and kicking at him. More employees came to his aid and the alleged thief, who had been arrested four previous times this year, was held for arriving police, who charged him with petty theft and battery and booked him into the county jail. The bottle of Wild Turkey miraculously survived the fracas.
10:52 p.m. – Brazen beer bandits. According to the loss prevention officer at Lucky’s market in the Maxwell Village shopping center, two men in their 30s, dressed in baseball hats and shorts, walked into the store, each picked up a 30-pack of Tecate beer, and they then brazenly walked back out, making no effort to pay. They dropped the beer into the bed of a white, early-’90s Chevy pickup truck and drove away, headed north on Highway 12.
Police found no trace of the men, but are on the lookout for the truck, which the security officer said had a partial plate number approximating 0539175.
Saturday, Dec. 15:
6:51 p.m. – Fidgeting uncontrollably. Police were called to a West Spain Street tavern after receiving a report that a patron was causing a disturbance. When officers arrived, they were directed to a man standing shakily by the juke box and fidgeting uncontrollably.
Police asked the man to walk outside, and he did, but then he refused to stop and kept on walking. Police ordered him again to stop but he refused to answer police and continued walking away. He was finally taken to the ground, suffering an abrasion to his head in the struggle.
He was taken to Sonoma Valley Hospital for medical clearance, refused to provide a urine sample and was charged with being under the influence of a controlled substance, resisting arrest and a probation violation. He was booked into the county jail.