Tag Archives: theft

Thieves In The Night in Melbourne, Australia

If I seem a bit off my game for the next week, it’s because I am dealing with a very stressful situation right now. We’ve been burgled.

Sometime between Saturday night and early Sunday morning, someone broke into our garage and stole 2 of the 4 bikes in there — the most expensive ones — the customised Specialized road bike and mountain bike that Mark is out and about on several days each week. Not only that, they got all of the peripheral gear like the heart rate monitors, the bike repair kit, the brand new high-vis lights, the brand new pannier frame that only was installed this past week, and in Mark’s cycling bag was a digital camera which was also stolen. To add insult to injury, they left their ratty old bikes outside our garage as they rode away on Mark’s lovely bikes.


Mark and one of his STOLEN Specialized bikes

Mark and one of his STOLEN Specialized bikes


We are feeling quite gutted. The police came out from the St. Kilda Police Station to take fingerprints and they were lovely to deal with both in person and on the phone. But the likelihood of ever seeing these items again is quite slim.

Now I have to troll backward through YEARS of online receipts and paper receipts and pictures to find enough evidence to PROVE to the insurance company that we actually owned all of this. So my entire week may be getting eaten up with this ridiculous nonsense. It’s hard to feel happy about returning to Australia when we have to go through things like this and it came out of both of our mouths yesterday. We forgot to lock our car doors in Moyon or St. Martin de Brehal or St. Girons quite a few times when we were living in France for several years. Nothing ever got touched. But we return to Australia and within weeks back here we are burgled???

More soon-ish…

©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
Please respect the words and images on this page.
All rights reserved.

Violence and Vandalism Continue Throughout England

We had hoped for a peaceful night in North London and yes, it was quieter than the previous night of chaos. But just as we were going to sleep after midnight, we heard loud booms — explosions — and then a wave of sirens.

Checking the online news this morning, I discovered that what we had heard was the local council depot being broken into and the fuel tanks on site that are meant to fuel the council’s trucks were set alight. The sound of those exploding fuel tanks echoed throughout the area and sent a plume of black smoke into the air.

London may have had fewer episodes of violence and vandalism in contrast to the previous nights and yes, the introduction of an extra 10,000 police personnel made an obvious difference. But people are exhausted, edgy, frightened, and uncertain about where the next random event will pop up. This is no way to live and it is taking an obvious toll.

The unfortunate result of sending police from outside of London into the capital meant that those areas who sent the police were left with inadequate police protection for their own communities. And didn’t the mobs of looters and vandals seize that opportunity! Cities like Manchester, Salford, Gloucestershire, and Birmingham were set ablaze and looted as the violence spread outside of London.

The morning news coverage is filled with a discussion of how broken the society is here in Great Britain, that the values and standards of days gone by have vanished, that people taking responsibility for their lives and their actions has been wiped away by decades of people feeling that they were ‘entitled’ and that their ‘human rights’ were more important than the good of society as a whole. This is an astonishing potential turnaround for me to personally witness. I have been dismayed since returning to Great Britain about how very different it is now to the generally law abiding place that I lived in during the 1990s.

This is a healthy dialogue amongst ordinary, law-abiding citizens that is long overdue and the heads of government seem to be finally listening to how completely fed up the people are by the lawlessness and lack of common respect for one another that they are witnessing on a daily basis. But balanced with that anger about the rampant criminal behaviour is a thread of understanding that many young people in current society feel that they have nothing to lose by acting like mini-gangsters since they are essentially uneducated and unemployable and the government has made such severe cuts to educational grants for low income students, job creation programs, and even local neighbourhood clubs for the underprivileged that there was bound to be a backlash at some point.

No one is condoning the violence — no one. Far too many homes and businesses have been lost for people to feel that immediate forgiveness or accepting excuses for thuggish behaviour is appropriate. The government revealed this morning that they may have to resort to using water cannons and plastic bullets to regain control of the mobs. And there are an increasing number of angry citizens who feel that ‘citizen action’ in the form of vigilantism is a controversial but potential solution. The police have warned against this approach on the morning news. Balance is required and none of these solutions will be easy or fast.

It certainly is an interesting time to have returned to Great Britain. I am watchful and hopeful that this vibrant and resilient country can find a middle ground that solves at least some of the dilemmas that have surfaced this week.

©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
Please respect the words and images on this page.
All rights reserved.

London In A Time Of Unrest

Nostalgia for the peace and serenity (and occasional boredom!) of France or Norfolk here in the UK swept over us this morning and we awakened less than refreshed after a second night of wailing sirens and helicopters pounding away overhead.

London — parts of it anyway — are in chaos right now and this is a less than pleasant situation to find ourselves living in. For the last two nights, violence has erupted as soon as darkness descended and our part of North London has been marred by this set of angry outbursts.

The BBC mid-day news has just termed this “copycat criminal behaviour” since it is now apparent that the violence and looting last night had nothing whatsoever to do with the original riot in Tottenham on Saturday — a riot that escalated after a peaceful protest about the shooting death of a young man by local police. An article in today’s Telegraph notes that some of this criminal activity is being orchestrated through the use of Blackberry Messaging, Twitter, and Facebook.

We’re currently working on a renovation project in North London and an essential tool was missing a part — so my husband Mark decided that it was a good opportunity to purchase a new cordless drill. He ordered it online on Sunday and received the confirmation by email that it could be picked up at a nearby Argos store on Monday morning.

I had warned Mark this morning that Dalston was one of the neighbourhoods that had been attacked last night, but he was still quite surprised to cycle over to the Argos store and find it closed up tight with pieces of metal siding screwed over all of the windows. Several other shops showed similar damage and were boarded up and silent.

Mark cycled home, looked up another Argos shop online, and set off again in the opposite direction on his bike. He was back in half an hour and was spitting angry this time. Not only had the second Argos store been looted, but all of the other stores in the shopping center had been raided also.

I barely slept last night. The police were on our street twice with their lights on after several groups of young men went up and down the street beating on the skips in front of various construction projects and banging the sides of the cars along the street. I was quite nervous that they would set the scraps of building materials in those skips alight as we had seen on the news in other parts of the city — or they would vandalise the cars including ours. A helicopter circled endlessly overhead for hour after hour as I sat tensely at the front window, watching the activity in the street below.

There are too many valid social ills in any contemporary society to list or examine in depth in the pages of this travel and lifestyle journal. But the kind of senseless theft that we are seeing has nothing to do with protests about social issues. I am quite concerned that a percentage of the homeowners, business owners, and renters are either uninsured or under-insured due to the economic downturn. So how are those innocent victims of this violence meant to reconstruct their lives?

Our slight inconvenience at having to source a power tool from another location is an pitifully insignificant issue when you examine the bigger picture and the lives that are being directly impacted by social unrest and violence.

Hopefully my next post will be about something pleasant and cheerful — but given the state of things — we shall see!