Sergio Cueva-Flores sensed something was wrong when he saw a mustachioed man "dressed like Kurt Cobain" leaving King County Council member Dow Constantine's office, Cat Power–autographed acoustic guitar in hand.
"Dow is a pretty hip guy who has all types of friends, so I didn't want to make assumptions," says Cueva-Flores, a legislative aide to Constantine. "I said, 'Can I help you?' When he didn't respond, I thought that was sketchy."
So Cueva-Flores asked James Bush, another aide, to call security. After doing so, Cueva-Flores followed the mystery man, stopped him, and demanded the guitar back. "He said this guy off the street 'sold it to me,'" Cueva-Flores recalls. "I said, 'No he didn't,' and grabbed it."
The man then made a move for the nearest exit, where Bush cut him off. "But he had a cane in his hand," says Bush, who decided to let him go and instead attempt to beat him to the lobby via elevator, while Cueva-Flores followed the man down the stairs.
The suspect was apprehended by courthouse security on the seventh floor. "He insisted he hadn't stolen anything. I just looked at him and told security, 'That's our guy,'" says Bush (a former Seattle Weekly writer). "One of the security people told me they found him in the hallway passed out about an hour before. When they woke him up, he said he was going to drug court, so they escorted him in."
This brazen daylight heist isn't just a shocking example of lax security in County Council offices or of the selfless bravery of a couple of dedicated civil servants—it's a rare window into the treasures they keep ensconced in council chambers. Turns out the autographed guitar wasn't the only thing the guy lifted: At the time of his apprehension, he was carrying a plastic shopping bag brimming with the following goodies, according to an internal e-mail asking staffers to reclaim them:
•Book–Consent to Kill
•Brass Colored Book End–U.S. Seal
•Men's Cane–Black with Silver Bird Head
•Glass 8-Cup Coffee Press
•Itty Bitty Buddha Ornament
•Zen Meditation Balls
•300 Movie Bust–King Leonidas
•Pez Dispenser with Yellow Helmet
•Puzzle–Build Your Own Stonehenge
•Brown Rock Desk Ornament
Seriously, a Stonehenge puzzle? The boys from Spinal Tap would be proud.