Sunday, February 20, 2011

Crime and Victimhood

The interesting discussion on the Wimbledon  railway footpath at the crack of dawn about  my not being  about to be mugged, the subject of my blog-post last week was followed this week  ironically, by an actual mugging of sorts.

Day job work had brought me to counsels' chambers near the High Court in the Strand, for a legal conference. I was wearing a Barbour coat with deep patch pockets inside one of which was my wallet. I had thought about removing the wallet before handing the coat over for storage in a recessed cupboard but didn't bother instead  taking the view at the last minute  that barristers' chambers were bound to be  a secure haven away from petty crime. A couple of hours later after the conference my coat was returned but the wallet had gone. Obviously embarrassing all round but there were a number of positives:

The Westminster police crime desk to whom I reported the theft were very helpful although  the officer's questions were read out from a pre-set list. One of the questions was whether as "a victim of crime" I wanted details of the victims' unit  which offer I turned down. Another was whether as a victim I needed counselling to which I answered that probably not until  arriving home later and reporting the loss to mrs maytrees, at which point  the police constable and I agreed that going to the pub might be more therapeutic. A question then followed about how I regarded my ethnicity/nationality. This is not a question I ever give much thought to but answered "British". He then asked "White British?" "Black British?" Instinctively I hesitated about that as never think about colour in such context. Human colour stats. might be helpful but the saying "There are lies, damned lies and statistics" comes to mind. At one time Catholics were over represented in the British prison population but did that mean that catholics were more prone to crime or were more targeted by the police or were poorer so were apt to steal more or were more naive at covering up their misdeeds or owned up more easily having been instilled by the tradition of Confession to have deeper feelings of guilt than many?

The story didn't end there though for having immediately cancelled debit/credit card, the very  next morning mrs maytrees telephoned me at day job to report that Royal Mail had delivered an envelope containing my wallet with all its cards driving licence and  Law Society ID intact although without the pounds sterling and Euros that it had contained. The envelope was covered in unusual stamps postmarked just after the time of our  conference and franked with the  Mount Pleasant Royal Mail sorting office round the corner from chambers. The back of the envelope contained the anonymous  message"Found on Floor". I left the envelope with my barrister contact for his chambers to do any Sherlock Holmes detecting  and await   the outcome with interest. My own hunch is that someone working  in a law office might have  need the cash but still have had a bit of a conscience about the Law Society ID and other cards  which led to him or her sending it back anonymously. Lost property found honestly  on the chambers' floor  would surely  have been handed  in at reception and if found elsewhere would have either been handed in to the police or posted onto  the maytrees' household with a name and address for a thank you or even a reward.

The other positive outcome about this incident  is that beforehand I expect that my reaction to  any mugging attempt would have been to have fought the thief off and doubtless risked life or limb in so doing. After the incident the reality is clear that cash is only money and losing it is irritating but hardly life threatening. Fighting off a mugger  risks bloodshed and what is the point?

The biblical quotation:

"What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"

 comes to mind as a salutary reminder of what life's real  priorities are all about.


  1. Mum and dad always said never put temptation in people's way. Sorry to hear about your wallet. Steph.

  2. What an extraordinary story, Jerry, and I'm so glad it ended reasonably well for you. I thought you took the whole thing very philosophically and your post was very funny. I'm not sure that there is the equivalent of the Westminster Crime Desk in Fraznce - and certainly not in Dubai where I am at the moment. Incidentally, over here you are advised to dress "respectfully" and not to show "excessive affection" in public.

  3. Greetings Barnaby and tx for your comment.

    The drama taking place within other middle eastern states is not from your post, being mirrored in Dubai at this time then.

    As for my own mini drama it will be interesting to see if the legal sleuths can solve the mystery on their
    own doorstep.


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