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Recently I was the victim of a petty theft, Paula Mathers writes.
Despite being a petty crime, it was annoying, frustrating and inconvenient. The items stolen were of use to no one except me, and I truly have no idea why the individual stole what he did. Unlike a lot of people, I have CCTV monitoring my home – however couldn’t remember how to access the playback feature on my mobile phone app, so called in the installation company to show me how. My cameras clearly show the perpetrator walking through my garden, up the steps picking up my smelly, old, covered in mud, battered work boots from my doorstep and walking off, seemingly without a second thought or care in the world. I was shocked and amazed at the brazen attitude of the thief; like it was an every day occurrence for him. Now if this had been a homeless person, it wouldn’t have irritated me. I may have even felt compassion and sympathy for the person. The fact that he was wearing branded shorts, t-shirt and flip flops however led me to believe that this was not only someone who should have known better, but someone who didn’t need to steal my old, scruffy allotment boots – and who most definitely wouldn’t have fitted in to a ladies’ size six boot!
My frustration led me to contact the local police to report it as a crime. Shockingly, they told me that as I couldn’t give them the name and / or the address of the thief, they wouldn’t do anything about it!! I needed to do their job for them, otherwise they weren’t interested. As a result, I decided my last resort was to add still images from the CCTV footage to the Coverguard Security Facebook page for others to keep an eye out in a hope that people in my local community knew to keep their dirty old work boots, or muddy wellies inside their homes. My post was shared several times. Two of the shares were to local community pages in my home area and the responses shocked me.
Of the 3000-plus people who saw the post, there was not one single positive comment. The people on one page commented that the theft was my own fault – if I didn’t want my old, muddy work boots stolen, then I shouldn’t have left them on my doorstep. There were also comments saying it was hardly the crime of the century and that I should stop moaning. Comments on another page asked the “thief” to get in touch and that the person posting the comment would buy them a pair of clean, new boots.
I don’t know if I’m right to be angered by these comments, but they most definitely shocked me. I was raised with the idea that a theft is a theft. It doesn’t matter what the item is; if it isn’t yours, then you don’t take it. Regardless of whether it is worth a penny or if it is priceless, taking something that isn’t yours is theft and is wrong.
I don’t understand when we, as a society, start taking theft so light-heartedly? When did it become a normal every day occurrence that we just accept? If it’s ok to take dirty old work boots that have been left on a door step, then is it ok to steal someone’s hanging baskets from their garden? Surely it must be, as, according to my local community Facebook pages, they’re “just left outside for anyone to take.” And therefore the person’s own fault that it’s been stolen. Where does it stop? Is it acceptable for me to steal your car because you just left it on the street and therefore don’t care what happens to it?
When looking to buy a house, we look at the crime figures in the local area. With police refusing to accept something as a crime unless you can provide the full name and address of the criminal, are our local crime figures being reported incorrectly?
Petty theft might be just that – petty, but it is still wrong. A person should be allowed to leave items in their garden, on their door step or on their drive way. It isn’t normal. It isn’t acceptable, and it most definitely shouldn’t be trivialised by society.