You thought con men were taking the summer off? You probably believe in Santa Claus, too, you dear sweet soul. Sorry, but con men are like leopards. They may change their spots, but they never vanish.

Here's a novel twist to the con man's ancient routine. It nearly snared Walter McClenny the other day. He writes:

"I stop at the curb to let my wife off in the morning shadow of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. As she walks away, a handsome, smiling young fellow approaches the window of the car.

" 'Hey, man,' he says. 'I work in your building on L Street -- third floor. I need a little help. My van's been booted. I've only got $60, need $20 more to get it back. Today's my payday. I'll come by your office soon as I get paid.'

"Fast pitch league.

"I stall. How does he know I work on L Street?

" 'What's your name?' I ask. 'Who do you work with? What's the address?'

"More questions. Some good answers, some vague. My wife heads back to the car to see what is going on.

"He gives up and walks away, still smiling. 'I had you confused with somebody else,' he says, as he leaves.

"He almost had me convinced. How did he know where I worked?

"Then I spotted the monthly parking tag hanging on the rear view mirror. It said, Monument Parking, July, 1828 L."

Moral: Motorist, know thy car, and what hangs therefrom.