One of the supposed benefits of living in the UK (as opposed to back home in SA) is that the crime rate is a lot lower. In general, this is true. However, that doesn’t mean that there’s no crime at all. Last year, there were a couple of crime waves that ripped through our village, creating all manner of mayhem and misrule. Devastating, they were. So much so, that the police were forced to put up posters like this in various places around town:
Verily, enough to send shivers down the spine of all but the most crime-hardened South African. But, it turns out that things weren’t quite as bad as all that. What was happening was that opportunistic youths would walk down the road, trying the handles of cars as they went. If they found an unlocked one, they’d pop in and rifle through, hoping for a satnav or some other useful goodies.
Shortly afterwards, a message came through from our local councillor, effectively saying that in order to help the police cut the crime rate back to near zero, it would be ever so nice if everyone would be helpful enough to lock their cars when they park them. Pretty please?
Now, whether it’s a subliminal subconscious link to this behaviour, I’m not sure, but towards the end of last year, we started being a bit lackadaisical in our car-locking. It became not an entirely infrequent event to head out of an evening to find that the car hadn’t been locked from it’s previous sojourn (usually a day or more before). This came to a head when we headed back to SA for a two-week holiday: having just remembered (as the taxi taking us to the airport was pulling off) to lock our front door, it turned out on our return that we hadn’t locked our car either.
So we returned to find the contents of our glove box on the front passenger’s floor, with the only thing missing being our Altoids tin of loose change (which we use for the procurement of parking).
So, one more small step closer to feeling at home here – we’ve now been a victim of crime. Admittedly, it’s semi-self-inflicted, and cost us no more than about £4.70, but still, these things all count.
On a related, but more sombre note, I read on our return that the homicide figure for London (city of 8.1m people) for 2014 was…. 95. Could hardly believe that. For Cape Town (city of 3.7m people), it’s about 1,750.