Wednesday, May 30, 2007

"Somebody is trying to steal my music" (Part 1 of a long story). Here follows an account of an eventful weekend. It all began on Friday night. Half our house didn't have electricity (another story), but we are all safely tucked up in bed when the doorball rang at 2am. Lots of commotion and the Police outside. I stumbled downstairs after Rach to find half a dozen neighbours fussing about, two policemen and a small whispery old man who kept tapping me on the shoulder to tell me something about "o telefone". Amy's car had been broken into and the radio taken out. The Police had been quick to arrive thanks to the phone call made by the small whispery man. The crook in question was obviously an expert as he silently popped a back window without breaking anything. (In fact, the complete glass has already been replaced). Strangely, the radio was still there on the seat - the thief having bolted quickly without his prize when the cops showed up. And so Amy secured the car and parked the car inside our walls. The end of the story... or so we thought.

In the morning when we were more awake we went to sort out the car but, astonishingly, the radio itself had gone missing. Amy remembers it was still on the passenger seat when she brought it in. So, donning our best CSI caps we can only conclude that our thief (or the Police?) returned in the night, scaled our wall, climbed through the popped window and made off with the system back over the wall. This criminal, we were discovering, was cunning, bold and probably athletic. When we have Kanu the Schnauzer here I think this won't be possible - too much barking. Anyway, this wasn't too discouraging - the same sort of thing would happen to us in Surtees Street in York from time to time. The radio was old so Amy was not too upset. And we will heed our neighbours warnings and park our cars inside at night. But...

"Somebody is trying to steal my music" (Part 2 of a long story). On Sunday morning an electrician came to look at our poor wiring and try to get a handle on why only half the house was lit up. (Extension leads are running everywhere, including up the stairs to keep a fan on in Nelsinho`s room). This electrician was recommended by the estate agent and he had done work in our house before. He pottered about for an hour and said the wiring in the house was very bad and would need a whole day to mend. So we arranged for him to come back later in the week. He left, Rachel and I went out to church and when we came back we all got ready to go to the beach for a day - Mark's choice of activity as he leaves in a few weeks. However, Amy's Pink IPod was missing! We all scouted about for it but Rach was sure she put it down in a specific place. We were all certain of where it should be and it evidently wasn't there - so we suspected the electrician must have taken it! As Amy said: "Somebody is trying to take away all my music, first from the car and now from my Ipod!".

Here is where my wonderful wife came to the fore. We thought very carefully about calling said Electrical man and planned what to say. (We didn't want to embarrass or accuse, we just wanted to give him every opportunity to return the Ipod). So, Rach rang him on his cellphone and asked him if he had seen a pink machine for music which had gone missing. She also mentioned we had gone to church - this was savvy, people don't like stealing from Christians especially when they think they are good Christians too! No, he said he hadn't seen anything. He then quickly changed the subject about the work still to be done. At this point Rach was very calm but clear - she didn't trust him around the house and she would find another person to do the work. They finished the call, but 10 minutes later the electrician called back. Oh, yes, he had found a pink music machine in his bag - it must have fallen in! We were not to think badly of him - he was a Christian too, and he didn't want to do anything against Jesus!

So, I think he realised that he would lose business not just from us, but from the estate agent if we reported him. So he is coming back with the ipod and we will hide out valuables and keep an eye on him. I don't think he will try anything a second time. But its a lesson for us to be more careful looking after the things we have. Another lesson I think is that we should keep living minimally with less stuff. The less stuff you have, the less there is for people to nick.

Epilogue: "Now that's what I call neighbourhood watch". An impressive part of all this is the way our neighbours rallied to our aid. We really feel a part of a local community in a way we didn't in York. This experience has allowed us to get to know everybody better. The lady across the road said that if her sons and seen the guy who stole the radio they would have given him a good beating. Apparently, these chaps have a habit of doing over any riff raff who come down our street. (Perhaps, for our crook's sake it's good he got away!).

Another form of self-appointed security comes from a man who rides a tin-pot motorbike up and down the streets of our estate at night. He has an alarm which makes a sort of "aliens are landing" bleepy noise. He keeps an eye out for any dodgy stuff. At first, it was quite annoying having him go by every hour of the night with his siren but now we ignore it, sleep through it, and actually find it quite endearing. Sadly, I fear with him there is a discrepancy between appearances and effectiveness: he didn't get anywhere near the scallywag who took Amy's radio.

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