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Wrestling With An Anaconda

Terry Joseph
February 24, 2002

You will need to understand the layout of my office, which is really a covered back-porch that allows me a clear view of the street, although passing people cannot see me because of a document-storage unit on my left that goes to chin-height (the top of which is often littered with newspapers, CDs, diary, music books, telephone directory etc).

To the east is a wall that goes up to the ceiling, solid up to shoulder-height, with angled ventilation blocks that offer privacy but faithfully delivers sounds from the recently vacated house next door.

At about 1.15 this morning, I heard noises coming from the neighbouring house. When the noises persisted and grew in intensity, it struck me that either someone was breaking in or a vagrant had found a cheap hotel. The noises quickly faded, so I went back to concentrating on my work.

Some 15 minutes later, I heard footsteps going by the wall that separates me from the driveway next door. Using the advantage of obfuscation, I peered over the document-storage unit to discover a young man of gangling frame, about 5' 10" leaving the premises carrying what appeared to be a very heavy bag. Because the gate to the property is locked, he rested the booty on the fence, jumped over and then retrieved it. He headed west with his loot.

At about 2.05 am, I again heard footsteps along the driveway, followed by the noise of someone breaking what could be a door. Good citizen that I am, I left my work area and proceeded into the main house to call police. This precaution was taken so the thief couldn't hear my voice on the phone if he had not yet gained entry to the house.

The officer who answered the Emergency 999 call spent some time getting my name, address and telephone number correct. I was painstakingly slow in detailing the information, convinced she was writing it down in longhand. It seemed she had never heard of Sierra Leone Road, nor was she easily able to comprehend cardinal points.

What was interesting here, is that when I order pizza from Mario's delivery, from the time they answer the telephone, the operator is able to confirm my telephone number and address. One assumes the fast-food store has technology yet to reach our police service.

I made the call not later than 2.07 am. At 2.20 am, the house phone rang. I went inside and answered to a male voice asking to speak with Terry Spencer. "There is no Terry Spencer here," I said, only to discover an apologetic police officer now asking for Mr Joseph, saying betimes: "We have a lot of reports."

He too wanted directions to the house being broken into. He too seemed unfamiliar with the area, had only a vague appreciation of cardinal points and experienced audible confusion with the concept of left and right.

The directions to my home follow simple lines. Head north on the Diego Martin highway until it expires. Turn left (or west) along Sierra Leone Road. I am located on the south side, exactly two houses before the Diego Martin Main Road intersection. I elatborated: "There is a dentist's office on the corner. His wall and my wall is the same wall. My home has a huge #4 on the gate-post. We have a red driveway and you will see my car, a silver Mitsubishi Lancer, nearest the gate."

At 2.35 am, another police officer called to find out if the intruder was still on the premises. I confirmed his continuing presence there and told them he was evidently now breaking in upstairs. I further advised that the proprietor had only that day installed a number of new bathroom fittings.

Five minutes later, the thief exited, his bag sagging under the strain of stolen goods.

At precisely 2.50 am, a police jeep came by. Two officers peered into the broached house without giving up the comfort of their front seats. They drove slowly away without even so much as a glance at my home.

At 3 am, my house phone rang again. This time, a female officer wanted to confirm the intruder had left the premises and asked for a description of him.

Circa 3.30 am, the thief returned for a third haul.

Who, me?

I didn't even budge from my workstation.

So much for the recently mounted Operation Anaconda, the heavily-publicised crackdown on runaway crime.

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