Article: Speak Easy

Burglar Buster with Michael BoturBurglar Buster with Michael Botur

On May 15 my garage was burgled. Around $800 of stuff was stolen including my bike and my son’s bike. My son actually hates cycling so he wasn’t bothered his bike got taken. What angered me was somebody taking the property of my children (even if my children despised said property). Also burgled were tools and some rusty drill bits. My theory is the dumbarse burglars mistook the rust for gold.

The burglary made me anxious, angry, frustrated and exhausted. I filed a mostly pointless insurance claim, largely swallowed up by the excess/deductible, and I resigned myself to never seeing my stolen goods again – that is, until Friday June 2 when, on the ironically-titled Whangarei Legit Deals group on Facebook, I saw some lowlife lassie trying to sell my son’s BMX. Her story was that her cousin had given her the bike and she was just a middleman (middlewoman?) The female lowlife (lowlifesse?) offered her mobile phone number for prospective customers. I rang it and made polite enquiries about the whereabouts of the bike, acting innocent. She invited me to a house where five dodgy-looking people crowded the door, expecting to haggle over the $70 they were trying to hustle the bike for. Using extremely polite language (honestly), I put it to the lowlives that I was certain they were holding a bike that belonged to my son and asked nicely if they could they please contact me if they felt inclined to hand the bike over.

I even gave them my business card. I’m nice to everyone in life, even burglars.

I then left and drove to the police station to report what was going on, sending a text to the middlewoman mentioning the word POLICE. While at the cop shop counter, the middlewoman texted to say her evil cousin was responsible for her ending up with stolen goods, she’d changed her mind and wanted to give my bike to me. I drove back to the house of ill repute, the woman brought the bike out, said sorry, blamed her imaginary cousin, etc, and I seem to recall saying thanks to the burglar – like I said, I’m nice to burglars. At home, I asked my son if he was glad I’d confronted dangerous crims and got his bike back.
My bike-o-phobic son replied No.
True story.

The Police Burglary Free: Strategies for the community webpage offers lots of advice about how to protect your assets from burglars. 
If you’ve already been burgled, though, and would like some distinctive and creative remedies before and after a burglary, here’s my advice:

• Sign up to every Facebook group where people deal in dodgy second hand
goods.

• List all your stolen stuff carefully in a spreadsheet, with a purchase date and
value given for every item, plus photos and serial numbers

• If you see someone trying to sell your stuff, take a screenshot of it before it
disappears. To take a screenshot, simply hit the PrtScr (Print screen) button
on your keyboard and paste the image into a programme like Paint and save
it, or use the Snipping Tool to ‘snip’ the image. Save it and hold onto it. Email
it to police if you are dealing with them.

• Follow Northland Police on Facebook, where every day police provide
updates for our community, including appealing for sightings of burglars and
appealing for the owners of recovered stolen goods to step forward

• Write an asset register recording the serial numbers of your property. Take
photos of every item too. Store it all on the cloud and also upload everything
to the Serial Number Action Partnership at Snap.org.nz

I’m a hypocrite, though. At the time of writing this I still haven’t completed an asset register, so I’m going to go write one now.
Ciao.

Michael Botur has published journalism in NZ Herald, Herald on Sunday, Sunday Star-Times and Mana and he writes a lot of fiction. He moved to Whangarei in 2015 and was ecstatic to be able to afford a house here.


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