Tags: theft

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sparkline

Blame

If I’m on the tube listening to my iPod—because, y’know, that’s exactly the kind of situation for which the iPod was invented—and somebody steals said iPod, which is illegal, is that my fault?

If I publish my email address online—because, y’know, I actually want people to be able to get in touch with me quickly and conveniently—and it gets harvested by scum-sucking spammers who send unsolicted commercial email, which is illegal, is that my fault?

If I utter my date of birth or my mother’s maiden name—because, y’know, I don’t believe that information should be a state secret—and somebody uses that information to “steal my identity”, which is illegal, is that my fault?

If you answered yes to any of the above, I would like to remind you of something said at last year’s South by Southwest:

If I’ve learned anything from hanging out with the Eastern European dissident crowd, it’s make no decision out of fear.

Neighbourhood watch

So there I was, getting ready to head to bed, blogging my travel plans when I heard some annoying noises from outside. It sounded like somebody was kicking a can around. Irritated, I went out on the balcony and saw two hooded yoofs looking nervous whilst a third rummaged around inside a car.

I didn’t want to jump to any conclusions. It could have been their car. But it sure looked like two people keeping watch while the third was up to no good. The engine of the car started. From the hurried and harried manner in which this was done, it was pretty clear that this wasn’t the car’s owner. One of the lookouts saw me, told his friends and started beating a retreat.

At this stage, I was on the phone and I was being put through to emergency services. The car began to pull away, bumping and grinding into some other cars in the process. Jessica had the presence of mind to read off the car registration and write it down. I was able to pass this along down the telephone line.

Before long a police car raced up the street in the same direction as the stolen car. Meanwhile, I started giving a description of the miscreants to the policeman on the other end of the line. At one point, he interrupted to say, “Wait, I think they’ve spotted it and… yeah, we have a runner.”

Sure enough, the car-thief came sprinting back down the street with the police following. But they weren’t following close enough to see him duck into a front yard and hide. They continued right past so I asked the policeman on the other end of the ‘phone line to excuse me while I shouted out, “Hey! In there! In there!”

Five or six officers converged on the hiding place and despite a struggle, the ne’er-do-well was soon in custody.

I was thanked profusely by my telephone confidant. I got the impression that they don’t often get such immediate results from a crime report.

I spent an hour in Hove police station giving a statement when I really should have been in bed getting a good night’s sleep before a long day of travel. I guess I can sleep at some time during the ten hour flight.

If this tale of police telephone action sounds familiar, that’s because it’s not the first time I’ve given the police a blow-by-blow account of the criminal activities on my street—and then immediately Twittered and blogged about it once I got off the ‘phone.