Downtown Fort Worth was hoppin’ on New Year’s Eve. As many Fort Worthians knocked back drinks and said adios to another year, one longtime customer at Silverleaf Cigar Lounge noticed that his motorcycle jacket had been stolen from the place’s breezeway.
The jacket owner asked that we use only his first name, Jim, to protect his privacy.
Jim didn’t wait for the police to arrive to start investigating. With the help of the lounge’s owner, Jim reviewed videotapes of the minutes leading up to the alleged theft. At around 12:30 a.m., a group of revelers passed by Jim’s expensive 20-pound jacket on the way out. The next moment, the garment was gone.
At around 1 a.m., multiple Fort Worth police officers arrived at the lounge.
“Upon arrival,” a police spokesperson told us, “officers met with the victim who alleged he had clothing items stolen.”
Jim, whose motorcycle gloves inside the jacket were also taken, said the jacket is easily worth $400.
Jim and Silverleaf staffers looked through receipts from the table where the party had been sitting and saw the name Chris Nettles, the recently elected city councilmember for District 8. Jim said he emailed the councilmember but did not hear back immediately.
Nettles acknowledged his presence at Silverleaf on New Year’s Eve to me but steadfastly denied taking anything that wasn’t his that night.
The next day, Jim said he received a call from a police officer who said the woman who took the jacket had just returned it to the police.
“They said they would drive it out to me, which I thought was kind of weird,” Jim said. “Two officers showed up in an unmarked car” to return the jacket.
Jim still has a lot of unanswered questions, like how could a female mistakenly hoist a heavy motorcycle jacket that has built-in Kevlar armor? And why did Fort Worth police, who are often slow to thoroughly investigate theft claims, somehow make it a priority to return allegedly stolen property in record time? And did this have something to do with a councilmember’s involvement? Jim said the jacket was returned with a facemask tied to one of the jacket’s straps, something he feels suggests that the thief intended to keep the garment.
Jim said that what the police have told him still doesn’t add up. — Edward Brown