When mittens, caps, and even coats begin to disappear, Madeline and her classmates turn to the usual suspect- Pepito. But for once their next-door neighbor is innocent; even his "bad hat" is missing. So our red-haired heroine dons her detective gear and joins Pepito and a police officer in search of the robber. When the trio spots a girl wearing the bad hat, she is treated to a rhyme as clever as- if more irreverent than- Bemelmans's originals:
"I am Pepito, you bad bandito.
Your life as a thief is now finito."
However, the impoverished girl returns the hat and the detectives press on to find the real thieves: 40 magpies with charitable intentions.