Stop, thief?

21:57, Jan 30 2013

A quick note with reference to yesterday's blog post. Yes, I've had some sleep...and I feel sooo much better.

Last Wednesday after getting home from work, in an uncharacteristic burst of energy and industry, I decided to do a little garden work before dinner and got busy filling up my green organics bin.

I was paying attention to not chopping my fingers off with a pair of secateurs (FYI this is properly pronounced seck-a-terz not seck-a-torz, seck-a-tearz or even seck-ya-torz) so I didn't notice when a man on a mountain bike rode into the street and parked his bike in a driveway across the road.

Eventually, however, I became aware of a metallic blue bike leaning against the fence of a property that has been abandoned since February 22, 2011.

Hm. That's a bit odd.

At first I couldn't think of a good reason that someone would be at the property on a bike. Property managers usually drive cars, after all. And tradesmen seem to favour trucks or utes. Unless, there wasn't a good reason... and only a bad one.


My curiosity piqued, I paid a bit more attention in that direction, potentially putting my digits at increased risk of unintentional pruning.

Not long after that I saw a dumpy-looking man in shorts and a rugby jersey leave the flat with what looked like a mirror or framed picture. 

Now at this point I actually knew he was nicking stuff. I really did. There just wasn't much of a chance that he was doing anything else.

And yet, in that moment, I doubted my gut feeling and concocted a rather unlikely scenario in which someone might have moved and asked their uncle to go around and pry the bathroom mirror off the wall for them... two years later.

I realise how ridiculous that sounds now but at the time I was in the grip of some kind of weird denial, probably caused by my lack of desire to confront the guy.

This despite the fact that I have told people off in public for: letting off fireworks on the footpath, blocking the cycle lane with their car, and parking on the footpath.

I don't know. Maybe I actually expected a thief to be dressed like Hamburglar?

After he had biked away (I wonder who he nicked the bike from - it looked quite new) I decided that I would go across the road and check out the empty property. If there were obvious signs of forced entry then I would call the police.

What a surprise to find that the front door lock was on the front doorstep. I kicked myself for lacking faith in my powers of deduction and went home.

Feeling that I'd let myself down a bit, I then went into overdrive contacting, in order, the community constable, the local neighbourhood group, and the management company responsible for the property.

A couple of days later I got an email from the property manager asking for more information and relaying that they'd been through all three properties (the same own two properties adjacent to the one in question) and there wasn't a hot water cylinder to be found in any of them.

She actually sounded a bit surprised by this fact, but given that none of the properties (including the one that I used to live at - the one currently surrounded by an amazonian jungle of weeds) have had any work or attention for two years, nor have they been boarded up or secured in any way, I'd assumed a long time ago that the hot water cylinders were long gone.

In the 19th century, because of our rambunctious rivers and their propensity to flood rather dramatically, drowning was known as "the New Zealand death". I now think of the pilfering of hot water cylinders (mainly for the copper they contain) as "the Christchurch theft".

Since then I have had a nice letter from the New Zealand Police thanking me for reporting my case and informing me that they haven't as yet been able to identify the perp and send him to Sing Sing (my phrasing, obviously). Apparently Victim Support is available if I need it though, which is nice.

So what have I learnt from this episode? Well, to trust my gut even if I don't want to and to call the police straight away if I see something that strikes me as dodgy. Also, that though they may be portrayed as an annoyance in films and television, a nosy, curtain-twitching neighbour is probably a good thing to have in your neighbourhood. I always thought I'd be older when I turned into one of those but I guess I don't have a problem with getting there sooner rather than later.

Have you ever seen something happening that you knew was dodgy but you doubted your instincts? Has an alert neighbour ever scared off a prowler on your behalf? Does anyone know where I can get some nice net curtains to twitch?

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