A friend of mine from London said on Facebook yesterday that he’d seen his stolen bike advertised on a website for sale – he notified the police but they were “too busy” to deal with the issue.
It’s not like that here in France.
A house near us was owned by an English couple, Adrian and Claire. Due to work commitments they used the house infrequently and unfortunately they got burgled after a period of prolonged absence. A window was broken and the thieves managed to get into the house and stole an electric fire.
Yes, I did say an electric fire – that was it.
Remy my French neighbour who has a barn next to Adrian and Claire’s house noticed the window was broken and called the police. He also arranged for me, my husband, and friends Katy and Jonathon who were staying with us at the time as well as the Mayor of our village to stand guard at tactical points around the house in case the burglars were still inside. I am not kidding about this and I’m not quite sure what Katy and I would have done if a gang of marauding burglars had emerged via our watch post but we stood there waiting and willing to do our bit.
The police arrived, jumped out of their car and pulled their guns out – there were several of them. They told us to stay well back, got the keys to the house from a neighbour and entered the building. I am absolutely certain that if they had seen anyone in the house and their orders had not been obeyed – shots would have been fired.
They then proceeded to check neighbouring houses and gardens to ensure that there was no further sign of any illegal activity in the vicinity. A little while later a van arrived with forensic scientists who dusted the broken window and other areas for fingerprints, took photos, measurements and did the things that they do. Adrian later filled out a crime report which he was a bit loath to do as it was a cheap electric fire but the police were insistent that he go to the police station to make sure no details were left out.
Just over a year later, one of our neighbours told us that the police had caught the burglars who’d nicked the electric fire and broken the window at Adrian’s house – they’d been caught when police did fingerprint checks for something else and the two young lads were sent to prison for their crime.
A tale of two cities? It does seem that way sometimes…