One of the lines the police use to attract recruits is that cops get to tell better work stories. It isn't clear though whether what happened in Kaitaia late on Thursday afternoon would count as one.

There were more questions than answers, according to Peter de Graaf, who was in exactly the right place at the right time.

"Had Constable Edwin van Dijk been burning so much shoe leather on the beat that he needed extinguishing by Kaitaia firefighter Mark King?" he asked.

"Had he been hot-footing it after a fleeing crim? Or had he in fact stepped in a hazard left by a four-legged offender?"

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The good oil was on the last of those options, although the results of a forensic examination of Mr van Dijk's left shoe seem to have gone astray. Mr de Graaf, who has stepped in one or two horrible things in his years on the beat for the Northern Advocate — he even offered to list them alphabetically, with dates, places and brief descriptions — didn't seem to be in much doubt, even if the suspected depositer of the said substance was nowhere to be seen.

"I suspect it's going to turn into a cold case," he said, although he was gratified to hear that the force in Kaitaia — well, Senior Sergeant Russell Richards — was anxious to obtain a copy of the photo.

He didn't want to add it to the prosecution file for reference to the CIB just in case a guilt-ridden dog turned itself in though. His visage having featured on Page 1 of that day's Northland Age, and preparing to pay the traditional price for shameless self-promotion (a morning tea shout at the station), he was anxious to deflect some of the heat on to another, lower-ranked target.

Unfortunately PC van Dijk is stationed in Kerikeri. Close but no cigar.