Friday, August 26, 2005

What the ?????

So this morning I took a walk through the neighborhood to get some exercise. I didn't have enough time to go to the gym and so I thought a long trek along our street would do me some good.

As I was walking, I noticed that several of the mail boxes (excluding mine and a few others) had paint -- latex house paint -- splashed on them. Some had big splashes and some had small splashes. But they were all vandalized.

"It was probably young guys with time on their hands driving around being stupid," I thought. But then I had another thought: if they did this down the street they will do it to me too sometime. So I thought I would report the vandalism to the police.

I call the non-emergency number for Prince William County. I gave the dispatcher my name and address and told her what has happened.

"Is it your property, sir," she asked.

"No it's just down the street," I said.

"Well sir, the property owners have to report the vandalism. You cannot. You can encourage them to call, but we can't do anything if it is not your property."

"Okay, thank you," I said. But I couldn't help thinking, here I am trying to report a crime -- granted a small crime, but a crime nonetheless -- and she tells me that I can't call it in. Whaaaa????

It reminds me of the scintillating law enforcement in our nation's capital when I had my car broken into and a computer and some other equipment (including several interviews that I had flown all the way to Argentina to get) stolen out of my truck.

Someone smashed my window and took the bag with all my stuff in it. And it was just down the street from Police Headquarters! So I walked into the police HQ to report the crime. The guy at the desk tells me I have to call it in.

"But can't I just tell you?" I asked.

"No sir, you have to call upstairs."

"Do you have a phone I can use," I ask. So he dials upstairs for me and the event gets even more comical. The person who answers the phone says that it's the end of the shift and I will have to drive home and call back from there.

"You mean you want me to drive all the way to Springfield and then call you back," I said.

"Yes sir. It's a very busy night for us (it was a Saturday) and we can't take your call right now."

"But I'm right down stairs in the lobby!"

"Still sir, go home and call us back from there," she said. Now after cleaning the shattered glass from my truck cab and driving home, I call back (at 1:00 am) and the person who answers the phone tells me that I will have to call back when the shift changes at 5:00!

Now by this time I am exhausted, pissed out of my mind and I just want the stupid case number so I can give it to my insurance company and start the ball rolling to get my truck repaired. Eventually I got the number and the truck was repaired.

They never caught the thief who stole my stuff.

I know cops are overworked and underpaid and God knows the bad guys are better armed and most of the time have more money. I even have a FOP sticker for helping support the police. But who decided that we have to wait for a crime to occur before we can do something about it?

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