Someone rang my doorbell one afternoon.
By the time I got downstairs and opened my door, there was no one there.
When I went out on my front steps, a surprised looking white guy in his 30’s appeared from my backyard. Yet my almost 7′ gate had been latched on both sides – how was it open now ?
He was wearing a high visibility vest. He gave me a convoluted story about how his buddy was at the tire compressor next door filling up his tires, and he was standing there with him, and the wind blew his hat right off his head over the fence into my yard.
He said he knocked but there was no answer.
Well it was true that the guy was wearing a brand new bucket type hat, printed with pot leaves, the kind you’d buy at the beach on vacation. This was in December. I didn’t say anything but stared at the guy, hard, and he beat a hasty retreat.
I went back upstairs and watched out the window. The dude got into kind of a shitty heavy duty truck on the passenger side, in the gas station parking area and the truck drove off. No work insignia on the truck of any kind.
I took a walk in my backyard to see if anything was disturbed. There was a muddy footprint on the interior side of the gate and the eye bolt was missing with a splintered hole in the wood. Nothing was gone or moved. But this entire interaction felt very wrong.
I went straight to the hardware store and bought a hasp for a padlock, then installed it on the gate right away.
While it couldn’t stop anyone from jumping the fence and entering my yard, it could make exiting with any contents more difficult.
This is what I think was going on: while the dudes were probably at the gas station, maybe even using the tire compressor, one of them was looking through the gaps in the terrible fence at my house and yard. Because I don’t have a vehicle, it is often wrongly assumed that the property is unoccupied, or I am away from home.
The high visibility vest is a tool used by modern creeps. Many people will assume that a guy wearing one of these vests is employed in some capacity, maybe a meter reader or working for the City. Therefore his presence in a yard, or a neighbour’s yard won’t be questioned.
I think the dude hopped the fence for a look around. There’s two back doors behind my tall fence – it would seem easy to break into my house without anyone seeing. Most of my curtains are kept closed, so he couldn’t tell if anyone was home or not. The radio in the kitchen was playing – maybe that gave him pause. I don’t know when he kicked the gate open from inside the yard. THEN he rang my bell. Then he WAS surprised when I was home.
He made up the hat excuse on the spot, because it COULD be true. But why wasn’t he holding his retrieved hat ? Why wasn’t it dirty and damp from the wet soil and leaves ? It was still very windy. Why wasn’t he holding it to keep it on his head ?
If I wasn’t home, he would do a quick break and enter. If there was anything larger worth taking, I guess he’d phone his buddy to bring the truck closer. Meanwhile buddy was waiting on the other side of the fence, like people using a gas station do.
This is plausible deniability.
He was just retrieving his hat ! By kicking in the door of my gate ! In the afternoon, when most people are at work….
The neighbours who live on the opposite side of the street have not been beseiged by trespassers in their backyards. True, several of their vehicles have been rummaged through for change and small items in the middle of the night and one was stolen then abandoned across the street from where it was taken when the thief couldn’t drive manual. Individuals have been observed, had their photos taken and captured on security cameras carrying things that didn’t look like they belonged to them. Then nothing ever happens to them.
My property has become a magnet for a certain type of crud, though. I believe this is because of the proximity to a 24 hour business that is known to be understaffed and easy pickings for theft. Word travels fast between creeps. I know this breed to be lazy opportunists.
I made an online police report about trespassing, property damage and mischief.
The very next day someone neatly removed the tarp from the vintage porch glider in the backyard, and it was removed from the crates it was sitting on top of. It’s in poor condition, frail with peeling paint. It was abandoned and left. The wind couldn’t have blown off the bricks holding the tarp down, nor placed it level on the ground.
I guess whoever removed the tarp – maybe that guy in the safety vest who came back with hope intact – was disappointed to discover what it was. It wasn’t power tools, bicycles or a new lawn mower that could be quickly converted to cash via the local pawn shop or Kijiji. I guess he hopped right over the chain link fence at the back and was gone, empty handed.