Thursday, June 23, 2011

Burglars and smoke

Ever come home from the grocery store mid-morning, say, 11AM or so, and surprise a burglar? We did, Tuesday.

Three guesses as to his mode of transportation.

I'd play hard to get with the answer but those who read my blog regularly have probably already guessed.

He came on a bike, with a basket to hold one pack while he carried another slung over his shoulder. Apparently planning to quik-pik his way up the neighborhood.

He parked his bike in the driveway, in a position that made a good compromise between hiding it from immediate view, behind shrubbery, and keeping it enough in the open for handy retreat access.

An amateur would have wheeled it around back where he entered, but he'd have had to ride it back out through mushy grass or garden, on a narrow path that could get him trapped and necessitate taking off on foot and abandoning it. Parking it in front looks so "I'm just a thirsty cyclist on a hot day, I have nothing to hide," if it gets seen by neighbors or even caught by the homeowner. He knew what he was doing. We certainly took him by surprise because he was around back of the house, and had quickly exited the garage when he heard the car pull in. He left the garage door pushed open, and we later found drawers pulled open, way off in the foyer.

We have not been locking the garage's patio door because the garage does not allow access to the house, and because the masses of paperbacks and grubby Cabbage Patch dolls, and other unsold goods in there are about all it contains. If the guy had taken the moldy Alf lunchbox, I'd thank him.

And we keep the door cracked because Scooter the cat needs to get his stubborn butt in to cool off, eat and drink. Yes, before you say it, it's time for a locked door with a cat door cut in it. Since the door is steel, and since it's not our house, that's not been a top priority project.

When I spread the word in the neighborhood, I got confirmation of a homeless camp in those State Park woods right across the creek. Always thought it was the ideal spot so that was no surprise.

The woods across the creek, and this neighborhood have obviously always been this near one another, but when park visitors had to walk down a dangerous highway shoulder -- Highway 17 splits right there and cars are whippin' along at the Bypass 17 speed as they enter Business 17, which I neglected to label in the map -- not much crossing back and forth went on. Now the bike bridge makes it safe, easy, and fast.

Larry confronted him in the back yard. The guy seemed to be high but not too high to plan and execute the attempted theft, and to play it nicely to avoid personal harm. He wandered away from the back door with a dumb grin. He said he was just looking for water. Larry pointed out the hose at his feet, one of two he'd walked past. He drank a few sips, asked to shake Larry's hand, walked back to the front with Larry following. Larry said, "Is there any reason we should look in your bag?" The guy grinned dopily, said "eh eh....Nah....Have a good day." He rode slowly off. We checked and can't see any particular thing missing, though it's a chaotic heap in there. I expect he was caught too fast, or found little worth picking, probably both. We did not call authorities. Several people have told us we should have. We'd already decided to lower the hammer in any future incidents.

And then the smoke started. Late yesterday it was so thick that I thought surely the dreaded wildfires are coming our way. This photo lacks the drama it should have, but you should know I took it directly facing the western sun, and the smoke was dimming everything like a blanket.

The pack-and-run anxiety began to build. Then, amazingly, it turns out to be coming from Florida and Georgia.

In the map below, you see Garden City at the top, and that's where we live. At this projection, the map doesn't label Murrells Inlet which is right next to GC, just a little set back, down the inlet. Source of the smoke is a bunch of fires at the bottom of the map. Not good.

The wind conditions have improved the air today. You can still smell the smoke, but it doesn't make me wheeze. This is shaping up to be an interesting summer. I've had interesting summers and I'm really not wanting one.


Sherwood Harrington said...

Holy smokes. So to speak.

I really, really, really hope this is as interesting as your summer gets.

If it were me (and, of course, it's not, so please feel free to stop reading right... here), I'd call a report in to the police anyway. It wouldn't accomplish anything for you in the current incident, but it might help raise their awareness that the threat level to people in your neighborhood has risen as a result of the factors you've written about.

Christy said...

Oh my! That's quite the morning. And I'm with Sherwood - wouldn't hurt to report it.

Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

So far, 5 people have weighed in, either here or in person, and all say report it. That does not mean we will. But interesting.

Meanwhile for the first time in a month we had a lovely rain off and on yesterday, afternoon and evening, which seems to have extended all down the coast and hopefully helped the fires down at the GA/FL border. We'll hope for more but the air is much nicer out there now.

Catherine said...

Truthfully, I'd report it too. If the police were to see anyone matching that description, they'd have reason to stop and ask him where he lives, etc. Enough to shake him up and make him realize that the authorities are going to be more alert.

Just my 2 cents.

I hope your summer improves!

ronnie said...

Wow! I agree with Sherwood - hope this is as interesting as the summer gets. I also vote for reporting it. We've reported a few things in our downtown neighbourhood, just to make sure the police know what's going on.

And yay for the rain. I hope you get enough to keep the fire dangers well down.

southernyankee said...

But wait, what about the Alf lunchbox? I mean, I kinda liked it when we hurriedly purchased it along with a "fine" assortment of collectible lunchboxes (all plastic) to meet the sudden interest in all things collectible.

Can't we interest any of you in it? Free shipping too!

Okay, here is my take on calling the cops on anything. A crime must be provable, with verifable evidence.

The only offense this clown committed (sound like my father there) was trespassing, and since he claimed he missed the sign at the end of the driveway, skepticism aside, no cop would give us the cursory "time of day."

Our county, is facing serious fiscal problems, and unless we had proof of a serious crime, like B&E, forget about it.

Besides, what if he was suffering from heat stroke and that made him act as he did? The temp was in the low 90s, he was on a bike.

What are the consequences for me, if I did not at least give him the opportunity to get a drink and move on? And if he had an accident or worse because I was overzealous in my condemnation?

I'll stick to what my mother called "giving him the benefit of the doubt".

Unless he tries again, then. . .