A few months back, in the wee hours of a Sunday morning following a tribute event for a departed loved one, someone crept up onto our porch and stole one of our wicker chairs while we slept. In the scheme of life this is not major, although it felt quite violating. Loss after a loss, in a way. The chair was not new, but it was one of a set of four, and it had been a gift. So now there are three. It probably would cost about $75-$100 to replace just the chair if you could even find one like it again. It was the chair I sat on while I brushed the dog outside on a nice day. It had an extra cushion pad on it and a weather-proof pillow. They took that too.
The issue really was not so much the value but more that someone came up onto our property and took something that did not belong to them. It was surmised that it was “just some drunk coming home from the bar after it closed” or “drunk kids”. I don’t have a lot of tolerance for “just some drunk” taking advantage of other people. Their toxicology does not give them a write-off for things like this.
Following this event and because of occurrence a few years back where we actually had delivered packages stolen off our porch, I started pestering the S.O. for a video surveillance system. I really hated the idea – it felt so Big Brother (or really more like Little Brother) but it seemed perhaps it was time.
It was installed not even a month ago and it didn’t take very long to catch the next would-be thief (which I think is probably the same one as last time) on video. Here he is, creeping up onto our front porch at 4:20 am on a Sunday morning. How would you like to find this outside your front door in the dark?
He came up to the door, noticed the surveillance, turned around and split, moving on to the next house, where we see him take something off the neighbor’s porch and move on. I guess he decided taking another chair (or whatever) from us might not be worth it. His buddy accomplice was with him, following along down the street carrying a flag stolen off someone else’s porch a few houses back. That guy stood in our flowers for a while and then moved on. This lovely guy pictured moved on to the next neighbor, took their snow shovel, then took a geri-walker off another porch of someone who had just gotten out of the hospital.
They kept moving on down the street, pranking, breaking things, taking things from people and discarding them elsewhere as they went along. The next morning we found out they had broken another neighbor’s fence and stolen the potted plant from a woman’s table – a woman who does not have a lot of money to spend on extras. The table they took her plant from is chained down along with her chairs exactly because of people like this. Pathetic.
I sent this and a few other incriminating photos around to some of the neighbors to see if anyone knew him. Word got around like wildfire. One family did some very good sleuthing and found out who it was. Social media can be an amazing tool and the internet is full of information. We discovered a lot of things about our intruder. The most surprising and disappointing discovery is that he is not a fifteen year old “kid” – he is a married Marine in his mid-twenties. That is all I will reveal about him here.
Perhaps I am deluding myself to expect a bit of a higher standard, not only because he is a Marine, (although that is part of it, being the daughter of a veteran and proud aunt of my Army godson) but that I cannot imagine my own kids or their friends at that age ever doing anything so juvenile and disrespectful to other people.
I thought about a few things.
- I reflected on how lucky he is that he was not attacked by some of the guard dogs on this street, or shot by an armed homeowner.
- I wondered how his wife feels about him out carousing the streets, drunk, at about 4 am.
- I wondered how he would feel if someone went to his own mother’s lovely front porch in the little hamlet where she lives and stole her wicker chair and plants off it, or frightened her by creeping up to her house like that in the night.
- I wondered what his mother would think of her son doing something like that – she probably would not be too proud.
- I wondered if he even gave a thought or care that he was stealing and destroying things from people in the neighborhood; people who are seniors, or disabled. Some that are poor. Some that have families and children. Neighbors that work hard for their things, even if they are just little things on a porch that make them happy, like flowers and flags and pillows. Because that is all and more that we are here, just people trying to live life and get by.
- What I think is that he really doesn’t care. His drunkenness is not a valid excuse. And it’s not funny.
- He is a bully.
Returning from the supermarket this afternoon I started thinking about how great it would be if he replaced the potted plant of the woman down the street with a beautiful new one. If he fixed the neighbor’s fence. If he apologized for trespassing and being scary. How it turned out he had my chair from last time and brought it back. If he got himself to some 12-step meetings. I was thinking how I would like to sit on my porch and talk to him and share some ice cream together, and that he would end up being a nice guy and we could be friends.
As I was driving home having this fantasy (and yes, it is that because it will never happen), I came up to a two-way stop sign at the same time as another car and waited to let him go first. After he drove through, it was my turn. I was already in the intersection when a huge black pickup truck with tinted windows that had been behind the guy I let go through bullied its way through the stop sign and kept coming at me without waiting its turn. I stopped my car and the person inside (I could not see who it was but I would guess a male – giant pickup/ tiny appendage syndrome) pulled his truck all the way up even closer to my car to intimidate me. After I went through, I parked in front of the post office and he slowed down and pulled up to me so close that he almost took the mirror off my car. Another bully.
It used to be one of the most fundamental things you learned in kindergarten was taking turns. Take turns. Share. Don’t take things that do not belong to you. Keep your hands to yourself. Show respect. Do they not teach that anymore? We live in a country where our own leader doesn’t even follow those basic tenets. Another bully setting the example. The whole situation is sobering. It leaves me rather low-spirited, aching not just for the past but for the future.
After all of it and oddly, I somehow found myself having empathy for this sad guy on my security camera. I’m not sure why.