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Law & Order: Parma

In 1986 I worked as a salesman at Pi Keyboards & Audio in Parma, Ohio. The store was well known for specializing in the latest synthesizers and pro audio equipment, well before synthesizers became mainstream.

One day, another salesman, Frank Vale, took a call from someone in Erie, PA that was trying to sell a used Emu Systems Emulator II keyboard sampler. At the time, this was still a current product selling for over $8,000 new.

The price the seller was asking was so low, that Frank assumed the Emulator had to be hot. Frank told the seller that he was very interested and made an appointment to have the guy bring the keyboard to the store. Immediately after hanging up, Frank called the Parma Police and informed them that someone was coming in to the store with what was likely a stolen keyboard.

A half hour before the appointment time, three Parma cops showed up in plain clothes (jeans and t-shirts). Their police revolvers were stuffed down the front of their pants. The cops acted like customers, browsing keyboards throughout the store. The entire time I could feel my adrenaline, knowing that there were armed law enforcement running a sting operation while I was in the same room. I wondered if the suspect might have a gun, as well!

When the guy showed, Frank said that he needed to take the Emulator in the back to have our repair tech inspect it on the bench before it could be appraised. In the back, Frank got the serial number and confirmed that it had been reported as stolen.

Frank came out and gave a slight nod to the undercover cops who then immediately drew their guns and arrested the suspect. The guy was stunned. How could he have been setup so easily?  Donít do the crime; if you canít do the time!

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