How I got my PC back from a THICK burglar

Around five years ago we were burgled. It started as all burglaries happen – you come home and you can’t believe your eyes. This is the kind of thing that happens to other people, people who are less careful than you and live in rougher areas. Well, apparently not. The crooks had pretty much stripped the place – luckily they hadn’t taken anything of sentimental value, but they had nicked my 360 and my PS2, although had left the Wii that was literally right next to both of those. At the time this burglary happened, you couldn’t actually buy Wii’s and they were selling on ebay for upwards of £300, which should clue you in to how bright the guy who burgled us may have been.

They say that when entering a burgled property, the victims usually find photographs and picture frames of their family and loved ones turned away or downwards – an attempt by the perpetrator to de-humanize his crime… in other cases (and I don’t really know the psychological reasons behind this) victims will return to find shit smeared on the walls and wee-wee in the plant pots. In our case, all of the picture frames were as we left them, but mercifully no shit on the walls.

He had also stolen my beloved computer, as a developer and internet addict, this was absolutely devastating to both my career and my recreational life 😦

Now, I’m the kind of idiot who ticks “remember me” on every site I visit and yet who doesn’t password protect his login (I’m a lot older and wiser these days!). Over the next couple of days, I remedied this using any available internet connection I could lay my hands on to change my various passwords. Had I forgotten any? Surely not – all the important ones were done.

If you’ve never been burgled yourself; it’s a very strange feeling. What was previously your home now just seems to be nothing but bricks and mortar – we were very lucky in that all he took was just “stuff” that could be replaced, but the lingering feeling of violation takes AGES to go away and to this day, every time I come home, I still worry that we’ll walk in to a burgled house. If you have been burgled and want some words of comfort, I can only tell you that after a while it does diminish a little bit.

Anyway, eventually our insurance company paid out and we received replacements for most of the things we’d lost, including a brand new PC built to match the exact specifications of the one that was stolen (yeah, they wouldn’t just give me the money). Once I’d got it online, I started the arduous task of re-installing all of my software. At the time I was running a charity cooking website, and the emails from that site were being managed through outlook express. The website hadn’t been doing so great, and I never really received any emails so after a while I had stopped checking. I’d even forgotten to change the password on it when my PC was stolen. I re-connected with the site when I set up outlook. Started it up to test it and…

What’s this? Emails?!

Yes: The crook had sold my PC to someone who had basically just plugged in internet connection into it, double clicked outlook, and started sending emails from my account. And I was now picking up the replies to those emails 🙂 As fortune would have it, one of the replies had my PC’s new owner’s name and address on it: It was a CV in application to become a special constable with the West Midlands police!

What awesome luck! This all happened just before the Donnington festival that year, so I put in a quick call to the police to tell them I’d found a clue! When I got back from Donnington I called them back to see what had happened, and was informed that they had no record of my call the previous Wednesday.

Unfortunately this brings me on to the rather sad part, and to this day I uphold that the reason this happened was due to the people I was speaking to could not fathom or comprehend how I’d come into possession of the name and address. I phoned approximately twice a week, for around 3 months, before any action was taken. The detectives eventually went round and found my stolen PC, in the possession of a guy who basically shat himself when they turned up. When asked where he’d obtained the PC, he immediately pointed to an acquaintance of his who was actually in jail at the time for burgling somebody else on our road. Read between the lines: This was our guy.

But he said he got it from someone else, and that he couldn’t remember who because it was “too long ago”. He could therefore only be charged handling stolen goods, which resulted in an extra couple of weeks being added onto his sentence. I would have been justified in feeling really, really pissed off about this, and I was, but there were two amusing epilogues to the tale 🙂

Firstly, regarding the “other person on our street” who he’d burgled. Apparently they had caught the guy red handed, and from what I hear they had a chance to give him a good kicking in self defence before the police turned up.

Secondly, I did receive a ray of hope in the form of a phone call I received from the detective we were working with. The thief had entered our property by kicking in our cat flap and then presumably somehow hooking the key out of the inside of our back door. The detective asked me if it was possible that the thief could have actually entered the house through the cat flap, as the guy is quite small and the crown prosecution service would consider this evidence enough to actually charge him with the burglary. I should have said yes, but I’m a shit liar. All I could come up with was;

No, of course not, it’s a sodding cat flap.

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