As some may have noticed, I haven't been visiting No Minister much the last few weeks. First my Dad died (posted about here); then I got back from bereavement leave to find things hadn't gone any too smoothly at work in my absence; then we got burgled, thereby losing our computers. Unsurprising then that I've been doing little more than necessary admin work and the occasional comment.
A tale of urban decay in bud. Our house has always been an absolute sitting duck for burglars - full of large, wide-opening wooden-framed windows with 1970s catches on them - but we've never had any trouble until lately. It's a nice neighbourhood, so the sort of dumbass losers who break into houses stick out like a sore thumb on the streets around here. Or at least, they used to. Here's the deal: your neighbourhood of 1970s "executive homes" was once a place where rich people lived but is now cheap enough for property investors to be buying the places up and renting them out. They're still reasonably flash places so the rents aren't cheap, but sooner or later someone rents to petrolhead losers. Suddenly a nearby street's covered in skid marks, there are broken alcopop bottles and junk food packaging all over the footpath every Saturday and Sunday morning, and the cops are regular visitors. All bad enough, but the worst feature is that the kind of dumbass losers who break into houses are now seen on your street on a regular basis, so no-one calls the cops when said losers are walking around inspecting the neighbourhood for targets.
The guys who brought the petrolhead renters into our neighbourhood were eventually able to evict them (and then got to rebuild the interior of the house), but it was a bit late for it to help us. A couple of weeks before they left, someone got in our place and stole a PS3 and a bag to put it in. There was no sign of forced entry, so we figure we must have left a door unlocked and the dumbass losers were going round trying doors.
A more worldly character than me would have improved his home security setup at that point, but I settled for making sure doors were locked when we left the house. And of course, the dumbass losers came back once we'd had time to replace the PS3 on insurance and this time did force entry and took a lot more stuff. So, now we're forking out for two lots of insurance excess payments, locks for all the windows, deadlocks for the remaining un-deadlocked doors (yeah, that wonderful indoor/outdoor flow through the many doors, and the private tree-lined section don't seem quite so wonderful now) and an alarm system. Plus the inevitable cost of stuff that insurance doesn't quite replace to the level you had before.
There's one upside to all this: the dumbass losers didn't wear gloves. The cops seem to be uninterested in taking fingerprints from a burglary scene as a general principle, but in this case they did. Regular readers may recall I bought a new TV recently - well, the dumbass losers fancied this TV and tried to get it off its wall mount, but failed. Modern TVs are surfaced with smooth, shiny plastic that shows up fingerprints, for which reason I cleaned it reasonably thoroughly after installing it, only a few weeks before the dumbass losers turned up. So, here it is with various fingerprints all over it, and the cops can see the point in getting someone to check whether they're mine or not. Next morning, Forensics came round and took the prints, and also got a good set from the bottom of the window frame the losers entered through - right where someone opening it from outside would grab it. The day after that I went down the cells to hand over my own prints and eliminate them from further investigation.
So, maybe one day the last laugh will be mine. Mr Dumbass Loser at some point will be caught and arrested, and after his prints have been run through the system they'll be adding burglary of Psycho Milt's house in August 2009 to the charges. Excellent. Now, if only there was a prospect of some actual punishment being applied afterwards...
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