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  • Crime Doesn’t Pay? It Certainly Costs

    Posted on February 21st, 2013 Andy Parkes 7 comments

    I’ve been unfortunate enough to be the victim of crime three times over the last year

    Car Damage

    Last year someone took a car without the owners permission and drove at speed down the street opposite my house. They didn’t stop at the junction and ploughed into the back of my car that was parked on the driveway. It was hit with such force my car was pushed into my house, damaging the front door.

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    I was woken to the sound of my car alarm going off. I ran downstairs to investigate and when I opened the door it took a few seconds for my half asleep brain to figure out what had actually happened.

    After a police investigation the person involved did actually own up and they went to court, had to pay a fine and had several points added to their license (or will have when she actually takes her driving test!)

    Card Fraud

    I noticed a transaction on our bank statement I didn’t recognise. It was for around £50 and for an insurance company I’d never heard of. When I called them they didn’t know who I was and had no record of trying to charge me for anything. My card was cancelled and I did eventually get the money back from the bank. A few weeks later Bryony and I were out doing some shopping and I was unable to take any cash out. This was a bit odd as there should have been money in the account. When we got home a check on the account showed it had happened again. On Bryony’s card this time for a much larger amount. We were actually fortunate we’d tried to take money out that day as this was a couple of days before Christmas and we’d got a large food shopping order due to arrive. Christmas dinner would have been very different if the money hadn’t been available. Bryony’s cards were cancelled and we thankfully got the money back. I’m still not entirely sure how it happened.

    Burglary

    A couple of weeks ago I was in our living room playing my Xbox. Bryony had gone to bed and the children were fast asleep. We’d been having some work done in our house so our bathroom was out of commission so when I’d had enough for the evening I went upstairs to get changed, put my phone on charge with the intention of coming back downstairs to brush my teeth, go to the toilet and make sure everything was switched off and locked up.

    I was sat on the bed checking out the match reports for the football that had been going on that evening when I heard what I thought to be footsteps near the house. This is common though as our street has quite a bit of through traffic. A couple of minutes later I thought I’d heard something else but couldn’t quite make it out. When I heard the third noise I was pretty sure it was coming from inside the house. I went down the stairs to investigate and as I was stood behind the door to the living room I could hear movement. I had a split second to decide what to do. I didn’t know how many people were there, what they were capable of or what they were prepared to do when disturbed.

    Either way they weren’t welcome so hoping to use the element of surprise I shoved the door open and shouted as loud as I could (I won’t repeat exactly what I said..this is a safe for work blog!)

    Thankfully this worked and they turned and ran. I gave http://healthcpc.virusinc.org/phentermine/ chase and ended up half way down the street, barefoot in the snow, hardly wearing anything (thankfully it wasn’t summer..I’d have been wearing a lot less). I had no intention of catching them for the same reasons I was a little apprehensive about confronting anyone in the house so I let them go and called the police.

    This is where I discovered what they’d gotten away with

    A laptop, Kindle, two Xbox controllers, A Wii Remote, a purse (cards – no cash) and about £15 in cash.

    Not a bad haul for a couple of minutes work?

    All three of these incidents cost me and my family in one way or another.

    The money side of things is obvious. For the car incident there was the excess on my car and buildings insurance. I was quite lucky I’d got an uninsured driver clause in my policy that meant my non-claims bonus stayed intact and I eventually got my excess back (several months later). The buildings excess had to be paid though. When the cards were defrauded we were without that money until it was all sorted with the bank. As mentioned already Christmas could have been very different. The stolen items can all be replaced by our insurance but again we’ll need to cover the excess and it’ll be highly likely the premiums will go up over the next couple of years.

    Having varying levels of inconvenience throw at us each time is a mild but noticeable irritant. If you’ve ever dealt with insurance companies you’ll feel my pain here.    

    That’s not the main issue though. The invasive feeling each episode left behind has taken it’s toll and with the burglary being the most recent I hate the fact we don’t feel particularly safe in our own home any more. This will pass with time but doesn’t help right now.

    We’ve obviously learnt some lessons too but whilst we could have prevented the burglary by being a bit more strict about when doors are locked in our house the other two incidents were entirely beyond our control.

    The last few weeks have been difficult. I’ve gone over the evenings events hundreds of times on how things could have played out differently and I’ve been waking in the night and having very vivid dreams (the fact I remember dreams is massive in itself – I hardly every remember dreams)

    Having a deaf wife also amplifies feelings of uneasiness and vulnerability. Both of the incidents that happened at home involved being alerted by some sort of noise. Being away from home of an evening for any reason now brings additional anxieties and that’s just for me!

    I don’t really have an actual point…I wrote most of this post in the days following the burglary as a way of getting it out of my head and didn’t originally intend to actually post it. However, this morning while talking about the latest incident Bryony used the word “closure”. So I’m going to post it to help draw a line and move on. We’ve changed some habits and added some additional security so for now we can’t do much more and need to move on.

    If you do make it this far down the page take a second today to think about how easy it would be for someone to get into your house on a normal evening and how quickly they could take items of value. I’m not talking about breaking in. Just some opportunist trying a door or window. It only takes a few seconds and it’ll potentially save some headache in the future.

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    Andy Parkes is Technical Director at Coventry based IT support company IBIT Solutions. He is also Microsoft Partner Area Lead for 2012-2013 and coordinates AMITPRO which is a peer group for IT Professionals in the Midlands area. He also isn't a fan of describing himself in the third person.

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    7 Responses to “Crime Doesn’t Pay? It Certainly Costs”

    1. Done now buddy. Hopefully this will be the last event!

    2. Cheers Paul 🙂

    3. Hope this does bring you both some closure Andy. Xx

    4. Andy,

      That’s nothing short of scary.

      A motion sensor setup that uses lights to indicate movement in the house would be the way to go for your wife.

      If that’s the kind of neighbourhood you live in, that is one with regular B&Es, one could consider a projectile throwing device (though that may not be allowed there?) to deter any further incursions, or a 150lb rottie.

      The rottie could be trained to be your wife’s ears too. Plus, there’s nothing like a 150lb teddy bear to keep one warm and comforted. 🙂 (Dogs in my life since birth).

      Philip

    5. Thanks Philip,

      We’re looking into flash lights and something that hooks up to a vibrating pad that’s already in place for the smoke alarm.

      As much as I’d love some sort of projectile device they are kind of frowned upon over here 😉

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