Cracking the cracker caper

If this was an episode of “CSI,” the title would read: “Peanut Butter Crackers.”

Eight empty cellophane wrappers for peanut butter crackers are piled on the floor of the playhouse the husband built for the kids years ago.

The grandbabies haven’t played out there since early September. Plus, they don’t eat peanut butter crackers in the playhouse. They have chocolate milk and graham crackers in the playhouse. So who could it have been?

My first thought was teenage boys. I was immediately ashamed of myself. Why is it we always point the finger at teenage boys? Why aren’t our first thoughts ever 6-year-old girls? Why yes, that’s who painted the graffiti, that’s who knocked over the mailbox — 6-year-old girls. Why don’t we ever suspect elderly women? Yes, the old ladies have been at it again, scuttling from playhouse to playhouse eating peanut butter crackers. Probably that red hat group.

OK, so maybe there’s a reason we automatically think teenage boys.

And yet, it’s a playhouse. It’s a wood frame playhouse so small that an average teenage boy can barely stand upright in it. So who was it?

There was one paltry clue. Of the eight wrappers, not a one had been opened from the top or the bottom. They had been torn down the middle, like something razor sharp had slashed them. Plus, whoever had eaten the peanut butter crackers either had been very neat or very hungry. There wasn’t a single crumb in sight.

A profile began taking shape. I recalled a case a few years back that involved a bird feeder. When night fell, the large bird feeder was completely full. By morning it was completely empty.

We refilled the feeder and wired the door shut. The next morning it was empty again. Yes, little old ladies and six-year-old girls were scavenging the neighborhood eating massive amounts of birdseed. No, that wasn’t it.

We filled the bird feeder and put a thumb latch on the door. The next morning the bird feeder was empty again and we caught the culprit in the act. The bandit even wore the mask of a bandit. He lumbered when he walked. Who wouldn’t lumber after eating so many big meals night after night? Maybe the varmint that cleaned out the birdseed was the same one that had been eating crackers.

I checked for prints. Sure enough, the intruder had left dirty little hand prints on the door and footprints on the floor. There was even a scratch mark where he’d clawed open the clasp on the door.

Yes, we were closing in on a perp and about to solve the case. Let this be a lesson to you furry woodland creatures. There is no such thing as a perfect crime.

Yet one nagging question about the cracker caper lingers. Where does a raccoon get change for a vending machine?