Giles Coren is fed up with his gaff getting knocked off.
Robbed, again. I cannot believe I have been robbed again. Properly robbed. Not by the bankers, or the taxman or Camden parking services (for once), but by actual baddies with gloves and stripy jumpers and a crowbar and a bag marked ‘swag’.
Well, maybe not the stripes and the bag but definitely the other two because we had forensics round and they said so.
The bastards didn’t get much, just a camera and some near-worthless foreign cash in a wallet (thank God for the collapse of the euro) but that makes three robberies for me in the last six months. The other two were a car theft from right outside my house – car never seen again – and a window smash-and-grab on my replacement motor a few weeks later.
As for burglaries, I’ve had seven in 17 years. Two involved doors kicked in by the addicts in the crack den opposite, back in the 1990s when Kentish Town was still ‘edgy’. I accepted that this was the price I would have to pay for leaving the quiet suburb where I grew up. And one time I had the house fully cleared of technology when I came home drunk and left my keys in the front door. I know that one was my own fault, but the keys were there less than an hour and they could always have not robbed me.
And then a couple of years ago I came home to find an actual real live crackhead trying to jemmy the kitchen window (which is how this most recent lot got in), so I ran out and grabbed a spade and chased him across the garden shouting ‘I’m going to cut your fucking head off!’
When the guy fell on his arse trying to climb over the garden wall I actually (God forgive me) raised the spade above my head to strike him. And you know what he did? He pissed himself.
I think he actually thought I was going to kill him. Well, I wasn’t. And there was no one around to help me take him in, so I had to let him go. I stood there and watched the poor sod cut his hands and face to pieces trying to climb back into the local housing estate through my roses.
And when I went down to the nick to go through their files of 5′ 8″ white males who had recently committed crimes in the borough (of which there were literally hundreds) I couldn’t pick him out, even though I had stared into his face. You know why? Because with their hollow cheeks and sunken eyes, all crackheads look the same: like a sick monkey painted by Edvard Munch.
But did I improve my locks, fit a burglar alarm, security lights and CCTV? No. I did not. I am a liberal north London media luvvie and I have truly always considered low-level local crime to be an acceptable tax on living in the world’s greatest city, like the service charge in a restaurant. I had moved into an old white working-class area with a lot of social housing and a recent history of quiet deprivation, unemployment and crime, and it was not for me to come in and make a big show of protecting myself from that. Theft was a key local industry, robbery one of the historic skills. If I moved into an area with a lot of florists or bakers I wouldn’t try to stamp those out. So how dare I discourage burglary?
But I’ve lived here 20 years now. This is my home. I am no longer young and I am not as liberal as I was. So this afternoon I’ve got a security firm from Barnet coming down to give me a quote for new locks and an alarm system, motion-sensitive spotlights, security cameras, barbed wire, a german shepherd and gun turrets front and back.
From now on, if the local crackheads want to piss themselves, they can do it in someone else’s garden.
Neighbourhood watch? Tweet him @gilescoren.