August 26th, 2009

Sometimes it serves them right

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

No matter how many posters you put up, leaflets you print or guidance you give, there are some victims of crime who simply won’t help themselves.

Every year thousands of vehicles have items stolen from them when the cars aren’t even locked.

A new scheme in Richmond, London aims to point out to the hapless owners of such vehicles the errors of their ways. Local police are patrolling car parking spots, checking car doors & removing goodies from unlocked cars. They then leave a message for the owner to collect their property from the local nick.

I don’t suppose in the great scheme of things that it will do an awful lot of good, but there is a sense of ‘serves you right’ when they have to go to the trouble of going down to the police station to collect the stuff they left in open display in an unlocked car.

One of my favourite crime prevention tactics was to wait in a doorway near the newsagent around 6 or 7 in the morning & wait for drivers to pull up, leave the engine running & pop into the shop for their daily paper. It was great standing back & watching them wonder what they’d done with the keys when they came out to find the engine turned off & the keys gone. Even better was when some anonymous police officer got in the car & drove it round the corner & then stood back in a nearby shop doorway. Funnily enough I never heard of any complaints when the aforementioned officer suddenly appeared with the car keys & directions to the location of the car. I assume embarrassment played a large part in the decision-making process of the potential car-theft victim.

Of course, you couldn’t do that these days for fear of being sued or arrested.

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  1. R/T says:

    We used to do that to the print vans if they forgot the vouchers!

    August 26th, 2009 at 22:56

  2. Peter says:

    You could say that leaving your car unlocked is a sign that maybe society is not so riddled with crime as is commonly thought and possibly that a degree of social trust is still prevalent.

    And then some policeman comes along, plays his little trick and the motorist is left with no other impression that these are mean streets and he should learn to distrust absolutely everyone.

    What a shame – and what a loss. And all because of some aribitary belief in a crime statistic that someone highlighted in a Powerpoint presentation.

    August 27th, 2009 at 09:37

  3. Gary says:

    Great idea.

    I think agents of the state should definitely go around and interfere with private individuals’ property.

    If the scheme is a success, then I think it should be extended so that young boozed-up women making their way home from nightclubs by themselves are bundled into unmarked police cars and driven to disused wasteland to demonstrate how vulnerable they are to sexual assault. It will ‘serve them right’.

    August 27th, 2009 at 13:24

  4. 200 says:


    yep, I think you’re definitely on to something. Maybe better would be to refuse to assist anyone who does something so stupid as to make themselves an easy victim, save loads of money, time & effort that way & the crime figures would shoot down.


    you could say that, you could also say that people are so bloody stupid & forgetful & that actually it has nothing to do with a conscious decision to trust everyone. Are you a ‘Heartbeat’ viewer by any chance?

    August 27th, 2009 at 13:46

  5. copper bottom says:

    gary- would you rather a theft took them?

    oh i forgot… its your right to have things stolen.

    and your right to allow someone to then drive your car at break-neck speeds then crash into someone else -killing them.

    oh sorry again… it only Police that do that…

    opps did it again- sorry they only drive like that BECAUSE Police chase them…

    and it not your responsibility at all…

    presumably in the same spirit-you would be happy to leave a loaded pistol of yours where someone could take it…? not your resp in any way eh?

    its your right i suppose…

    and its my right to stop you – fool

    August 27th, 2009 at 16:53

  6. tim says:

    As an ex process decision maker (ie talk to me nicely you get an easy day at mags court) report them for leaving a m/v with the engine running (preferbally on zig zags – 2 for 1 offer)

    August 27th, 2009 at 21:17

  7. Omri says:

    When Vlad III ruled Wallachia, a merchant could leave a bag of gold in the main square of any town overnight and collect it the next day.

    Quite the contrast, eh?

    August 27th, 2009 at 21:41

  8. Copper bottom says:

    Yes – but Vlad once had someones hat nailed to his head because he didn’t take it off when they met…

    Tad excessive … :-)

    August 27th, 2009 at 22:34

  9. SoCal says:

    Sounds like an awful lot of extra work for the police. And for what?

    While it may be true that a thief has no right to steal, even from an easy target, I don’t have much sympathy for those that leave valuables in their unlocked cars (especially in the really bad areas. I’m always amazed by how many people seem to do this…)

    It would probably be more efficient to let the thieves steal the items, and have the owners learn things the hard way, rather than having the police temporarily confiscate things from the absent minded.

    Can you imagine the nightmare for whatever poor sop is at the desk where the goods are kept? Having to process all those vouchers, being told it’s not the right item, etc.? Egad.

    August 28th, 2009 at 07:51

  10. copper bottom says:

    my tutor (many moons ago…) told me ‘if there is anything that will get you up shi* street its the three P’s : Paperwork, Police women and PROPERTY’

    i wouldn’t touch anything in a car with a barge pole… unless its a VERY high value item left on display…

    I have in the past- moved laptops under seats… and locked doors -leaving a note…

    mind you- i am quite an unconventional copper ;-)

    August 28th, 2009 at 11:05

  11. Gary says:

    Copper Bottom.

    There’s nothing wrong with the police advising people about minimising the risk of theft. I just don’t agree that their stuff should be confiscated and taken to the local nick for them to have to queue up and ask for it back. I think that’s disproportionate and generally a bad idea for the reasons set out by SoCal above.

    We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that the person ‘responsible’ for the theft is the thief.

    We might start to see a reduction in theft from cars if the Government increased the sentencing guidelines to allow courts to lock-up career criminal scum. I know that’s not the police’s fault. If there were fewer criminals out and about, there would less need for the police to chase them.

    August 28th, 2009 at 12:05

  12. 200 says:

    As I mentioned, this is nothing new. Police have been protecting other people’s property from the owner’s failings for donkey’s years.

    I guess it came about because part of the duty of a police officer is the protection of property. That and the fact that once a ‘stealable’ item comes into police notice if they then leave it in the same condition & the next person steal it, the owner will a) make a complaint that the police failed to take action to protect his property & b) sue the police for the cost of the item that ‘the police’ allowed to be stolen.

    I expect it makes people feel better saying the jackbooted Nazis are trampling over everyone’s rights to have their property stolen by their own choosing.

    September 1st, 2009 at 19:42

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