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Question of conscience - what would you have done?

 
 
nimh
 
Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2004 04:57 pm
Hello

I wanted to share a short story. OK - long story. I'm not really looking for advice on what to do, cause I already did. I'm also not looking for anyone to reassure me that I did the right thing. I'm really just kinda curious how other people would have seen this situation.

My apartment was burglared a few nights ago. I live downtown, ground floor, so I guess it was a question of time. Apparently, someone broke the thingie of the small top tumble window so that it came unhinged, and then ... well, tumbled in, I guess. I was asleep, its a one-room apartment, so he must have stood right by me. Anyway, different story.

The way I found out was pretty strange. You see, I woke up, hadnt slept much, was a little confused, and in a hurry, and then - couldnt find my clothes. Seriously - I had planned to wear the same clothes as the day before (because they went with a sweater I was planning to try on in the shop next door to my work), I'd put them all on the couch - and they werent there. I walked around, turned over every single pile of anything I could find, looked in every closet, looked, hell, in the shower, toilet - no clothes.

For a full ten minutes or so, I seriously started to doubt my mind. Had I finally gone crazy? You never know ... it happens. I got quite paranoid - had I started sleepwalking? Dumped my clothes somewhere outside? I even looked over the balcony - nothing. I really thought I might have gone crazy. That was the scariest bit of it all, really.

Anyway, so I decide, finally, to just - go - to - work. And then, I told myself, when you come back this afternoon - they will be there again. It works like that. So I go for the door, put on my coat - uh-uh - no coat.

Thats strange. Yes, of course - I distinctly remember it - I came home very late from work last night - and before rolling into bed, I threw my coat, my clothes, all of it, on the couch - they were all in the same pile. I remember even what it looked like. So the coat must be with the rest - whatever happened with it. 'Whatever I did with it', is what I'm still thinking.

Then I have a brilliant idea. My cellphone is in my coat! So I can call myself, duh. And then the phone will ring, I will hear it, and I'll have found my stuff back. Booyaa. I use my landline to call my cellphone, pricking my ears to hear any sound. Someone on the other end says, "hello, with [inaudible]". Huh!?

OK, so here's the story. This lady, she'd bought that phone "last night, at six" - that musta been six in the morning. For fifteen euro. In a pub. From some Surinamese guy. But she didnt mind giving it back to me. Well, she paid the fifteen euros for it. I say fine, I'll give you fifteen euro. Oh, and her friend paid another fifteen euros for it. I grumble, but go, whatever, thirty euro then - I just want my phone back - then I'll have at least that.

So thus far the lady dont sound too nice, right? But still, all she did was, six in the morning, probably drunk or on something, bought some phone from some dude. And hey, she picked up, and everything. True, she was pretty sharky about that 30 euro.

So I'm still spinning not knowing how I could reasonably have lost my coat (and clothes!), when I'd gone straight home from work last night, be it at dark thirty in the morning. How did they get out there? How did someone get to fence it? One thing: gotta go get my phone back. Its somewhere in Z., a rather shifty part of town (but hey, its still Utrecht). I'm supposed to go to this street, she gave me the name, she'll see me and come out, or I can call her. Gave me her own cellphone # and everything (cause she wanted to turn my phone off, its true, of course).

Of course, nothing's that easy right now. I realise I dont have any money, cause it was all in my coat, and so were all my bank passes. So I'll have to get some money at my work first. I call her to say I'll be late, and call the bank to block my passes. I want to go to my work, then realise I dont have any keys anymore, theyre in my coat. And that somebody else does have my keys. Huh. So I cant leave.

'K, so this is where I call the police. After I finally find the traces of break-in: the tiny top window thats forced open, and then I remember that the first thing I'd seen in the morning was that the curtain rails had come out of the wall on one end and had slumped down. I'd just instinctually put it back up, things fall apart here all the time.

Now the police comes to take my statement, they're real nice (nobody's coming to take fingerprints because of "undercapacity", but - real nice) - and they're really interested in this deal I still have with homegirl. They want to be there. I'm all, OK, whatever - I mean, 's long as I get my phone back, right? And who knows it might help catching this bastad who did it.

They give me instructions and everything. To meet later in the day, on the bridge cause its easy for them, what I need to tell her. I kinda shrug it off and call her to make an appointment, at a specific place and time this time. At the gas station by the bridge. First I gotta get some money, Anastasia's bike and phone, then I rush there, arrive in time. Police must be somewhere around.

Now when I called this girl again, she was really friendly. I mean, hell, she'd just bought this phone, you know, if I wanted it back, she'd give it back <shrugs>. We chatted a bit, 's all OK. She picks up with her name (Manuela) and everthing. Hell, I coulda been that - or I know people who coulda been that - on something, somewhere out there elated in the morning after some party - someone offers you a phone for a tenner - you know? Its morning now, I called, and she picked up the phone, and now I'm getting it back. I'm really almost feeling sorry about having gotten the cops in and everything.

I go to the gas station, noone there. I call her, she's like, "OK - now you gotta cross the bridge, go down to the traffic lights, there's a Turkish grocery store there, if you call me from there I'll be right down." So I call the cops, warn them, go down there slow so they can follow me. Turkish grocery store, two older Turks sitting by an old van blaring Turkish folk music, noone else around, I call her, and wait, with my bike. Wait for a while.

So, here's the deal. She comes down, blond woman in her thirties I guess, tottering down the street in heels, holds out her hand, helloo I'm Manuela, I'm, hi I'm nimh, she goes pick the phone from her bag, I'm stealing for time like the cops told me to, "they burglared my apartment you know, its not like I just left my coat somewhere, they were in my room", and by the time I get a look at the phone two cops are there and take her away. She's all, "this is my neighbourhood, you know", they're all, "well, noone needs to know you're being arrested" - they were plainclothes - she goes along with them. Tell me to come down to the station on my bike.

Trippy thing was - it wasnt my phone. She had my simcard in one hand, and a phone in the other - but not mine. Anyway.

Now later that day I made my statement, and they tell me they're really suspicious with this woman, think she might be involved somehow or at the very least have done this thing (fencing I mean) more often. They're gonna "put on the thumbscrews", etc. Later that night they call me, to ask something, and say they're gonna keep her in for the night, question her tomorrow again ...

Oh, curious interlude - I'm at the station, giving my statement to two officers, halfway through, my phone rings. I'm all, "sorry", pick it up - someone goes, "Yeh, Karim here, is Manuela there?". Heh. So I shield the voice part and tell the officers, "it's for Manuela". One of 'em takes it and has this hilarious conversation - "Pieter speaking here. No, Manuela is at the police station. For 'heling'. 'He-ling' - selling stolen goods. No, she might be here for quite a while still."

Now for all I know, all this woman did was go out to party, and at the end of the night buy a phone for a tenner. She did pick up the phone in the morning (hardly a sign of overly bad conscience), picked up with her name, gave me her own cellphone number, and was going to hand me back my phone. I'm not saying she was being some Samaritan, she was gonna get back her money and was obviously not overly concerned with the whole thing - just streetwise, thazall. The whole Karim thing hardly pointed to hardened criminals either. And the point is: if she hadnt picked up the phone and agreed to meet me - and there was no reason at all why she should have, really - not just wouldnt I be getting back my phone, but whatsmore - it would have taken me hours, perhaps, before I'd been abe to piece together the puzzle of what happened. God knows how long I would have been fretting about possibly having finally gone cuckoo. So in a way I got something to thank her for. And I feel kinda bad grassing - calling in the cops on somebody is really not my style, kinda, tho I havent really had the occasion before either. So in a way I'm thinking, I shoulda just gone down for the deal, leave the cops out of it. On the other hand, I would really like to see that burglar caught - badly. But yeh, she's getting a bummer deal out of it and here's me and Anastasia kinda identifying with her side of the course of events, if you get my drift.

So - what would you have done? Would you have told the cops, I'd rather do this on my own, thanks but no thanks? Would you never even have mentioned it to them? Would you perhaps have passed on the whole thing altogether, going "forget the bloody phone"? Would you a done what I did? What do you think is right?

The cops gave me this whole story about how, if noone bought any stolen goods, there wouldnt be any theft anymore, and obviously, thats true. On the other hand, this whole getting a chance to get your stuff back thing (and it is your cellphone we're talking about, got all those numbers, messages, personal stuff in there) relies on people kinda silently agreeing not to get the police in. I mean, if everyone did like me, people would think twice about picking up the phone they bought last night - or arranging to give it back - and noone would get their stuff back anymore. Legal reality versus, like, I dunno ... "street" reality. Which set of norms would you have adhered to?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 3,192 • Replies: 34
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2004 05:14 pm
I'd have done exactly what you did and felt exactly as you feel.

Burgulary is not a fun thing, after all "they know where you live" and such.

Getting the cops involved at some level was a necessity for your own protection if nothing else and the thing about cops is that they don't necessarily handle things the way you prefer.

IMO, you would have been foolhardy not to involve the cops. And while you might disagree with their acts, that is beyond your control. Involving the police was IMO both wise and a responsibility in this situation. Not because of any bad this woman did but simply to give the police a lead on a burgular who'd entered your house.

I'd kinda feel for her too, but you have bigger fish to fry and the cops are right, your home was invaded because people like her are willing to buy stolen/lost goods.

In Brazil I used to preach this, when you buy stolen goods you might be financing someone else's death. I'd feel bad for her because she might not have thought it out well, but such is life.

Other than that, how are things going? In my experience this type of thing can be more than a but unsettling. Have you improved your security? Did the bastard take a lot?
0 Replies
 
Noddy24
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2004 05:23 pm
Remember, one of her "friends" may have your keys.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2004 05:27 pm
Hey Craven

Nah, he musta just grabbed the pile of clothes from my couch (probably seeing my coat was among them) and walked out. Nothing else missing - the computer's still there, the CD's, everything. Well, they usually go for the valuables only, easy to carry stuff. And I dont have much of those - everything I have in money terms is in my coat - he got that one right! ;-)

The one thing I'm really glad about is that when Anastasia came round, back when I couldnt go out yet cause I didnt have any keys, she went out to look for my clothes and found them on the street two blocks down. Pockets were mostly emptied but everything else was there: coat, shirt, pants, t-shirt. I'm very happy about that, after all - bank passes and such I can block & replace, but I woulda been hard pressed to find that coat and that shirt again - and I love them!

So, damage is limited. Its true I havent been sleeping all that well since (all this happened wednesday morning) - but then, I've been insomnious lately, period.
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2004 05:34 pm
I hear ya re sleeping. Can you put bars on your window or secure it somehow?

You might also look into a very simple and cheap motion detector alarm.

Sleeping after a burgulary or home invasion can be damn tough. I moved from one place I lived after a home invasion because it kept nagging at the back of my mind.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2004 05:35 pm
nimh wrote:
So, damage is limited. Its true I havent been sleeping all that well since (all this happened wednesday morning) - but then, I've been insomnious lately, period.


altho its true ive had more confused/upset bouts the last few days than before ... anastasia was worried about that. probably related, i guess.
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OCCOM BILL
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2004 05:36 pm
Sounds like you did everything right. Now get some better security. If you can't afford anything now, dental floss and a glass bottle will wake you up at least.
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2004 05:38 pm
I found a motion detector alarm for 19.95. The simple "hotel" types are pretty cheap and can give you some peace of mind. Just point it at the window/door and set it and sleep.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2004 05:41 pm
i had the lock changed, of course, my front door lock that is. housing corp wont change the outer door lock tho (the one six of us share).

dental floss and a bottle, bill? <frowns>

i havent really come round to safety yet, actually ... for now, just tried to get all the practicalities arranged, insurance, passes, police, all that ... lots to do still. am kind of procrastinating.

anyway.
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2004 05:53 pm
So sorry you've had to go through all this, nimh. I probably would have done pretty much the same as you & would be feeling guilty now, too. Though I have a sneaking suspicion this woman knows the thieves, even if she is not a criminal herself. I hope you manage to get the rest of your stuff back.
0 Replies
 
g day
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2004 05:59 pm
Your actions sound very reasonable. Who buys cheap goods in a pub not expecting them to be stolen?

The moment you identified the goods as yours she was under a duty to return them and report them as stolen and who sold them to her.

Failure to do this and extract financial gain adds to her woe.

The break in is more worrying - if it has happened once it is very likely to happen again insurance officers tell me.
0 Replies
 
Diane
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2004 06:12 pm
Nimh, I'm so sorry to hear of your trouble. I think you did the right thing--the guilt is part of the package, but she must have known what she ws doing.

Most places I've lived, I haven't had to lock the doors. Even here in Denver, Dys and I go out without locking the door. I know, I know, we're asking for trouble, but never having been robbed, we tend not to think about it.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2004 06:14 pm
g__day wrote:
The break in is more worrying - if it has happened once it is very likely to happen again insurance officers tell me.


how so?
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2004 06:27 pm
Diane wrote:
Even here in Denver, Dys and I go out without locking the door. I know, I know, we're asking for trouble, but never having been robbed, we tend not to think about it.


Diane, I've been meaning to visit you and Dys, can you please provide an address, times when you will not be home (I do not want to miss you) and a a quick run down of the valuables you have (I just like to know a bit about people before I meet them)?

Just kiddin'
0 Replies
 
Diane
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2004 11:32 pm
Craven, just in case you're really serious about visiting, our address has just been PM'ed to you. As far as robbing us, you dont' want to mess with Dys's parrot, Fred. He is a vicious little thing.
If you do visit, please come while we're here--we'd really love to see you.
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Mar, 2004 11:48 pm
Alas it was but a joke, I haven't the means and time to have fun right now.

But the parrot actually motivates me to visit more so than stay away. I adore parrots.
0 Replies
 
OCCOM BILL
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Mar, 2004 12:03 am
nimh wrote:
dental floss and a bottle, bill? <frowns>
Yes. Opening a window (or door)= loud shattering sound= scared punk running instead of robbing. Idea If you have a little extra cash, this website will hook you up proper! :wink: (X-10 products rule!)(huge selection of motion detectors and whatnot like Craven suggested)
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Mar, 2004 12:25 am
I've always thought you were especially sane, nimh, d'na worry about it. About the sleep, it always was hard for me to sleep whenever I worked late; my mind would keep spinning around for hours.

Sorry you went through all this.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Mar, 2004 01:30 am
Yikes! 'Orrid, Nimh - not nice to think of someone being there as you slept. Take care!

I would have done as you did - I agree it doesn't feel so good about the woman - but, as Craven says, you cannot control the police! They tend to have mouths like torn pockets anyway...
0 Replies
 
Wilso
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Mar, 2004 02:43 am
I NEVER read posts that long.
0 Replies
 
 

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