Home Opinion and Features That’s not a bargain, it’s booty!

That’s not a bargain, it’s booty!

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Our city has come to the point where one has to go to extraordinary lengths to barricade and fortify businesses and homes against thieves who believe it’s OK to take other people’s property writes Lance Fredericks.

I HAPPENED to drive through the Kimberley city centre just around sunset recently, and it was not a place that I would like to visit very often – no thank you!

It was a sad sight. Practically every shop was shuttered up behind steel roll-up doors, I assume to keep the thieves out.

I thought back to what was formerly known as Jones Street used to be like when I was younger. That was the street you’d bring your friends from out of town to so that you could impress them.

Call me dark, but even the Christmas lights being strung across the road ahead of the festive season is not going to brighten up this dismal scene.

Our city, and cities and towns around this beautiful country, have come to the point where, in order to protect assets one has to go to extraordinary lengths to barricade and fortify businesses and homes against raiders that have apparently learned over time that it’s OK to just walk in and take other people’s property.

Everywhere you go you hear people complaining about the rising crime. It may be an unfair comment, but people are saying that the police only open dockets for burglaries these days so that victims can claim from their insurance companies. There seems to be no manpower or resources to end the scourge.

And while there are many who direct their anger at the thieves and shake their heads at the ‘useless’ cops, there are some of those angry head-shakers who have once or twice bragged about ‘bargains’ that have fallen into their laps.

“This guy knocked at my door the other day with a brand new coffee machine still in the box. He wanted R100 for it. I told him I only had R50, and he gave it to me. I checked, and that coffee maker is worth almost R3,000!”

Well, here’s a news flash, that ‘R20 coffee machine’, microwave oven, television or power tool didn’t come from ‘nowhere’. Chances are that the bargain that you now own was taken from somebody’s home; in fact it’s extremely likely.

How can I make it even clearer? Just because stolen goods are brought to you in a box doesn’t make it legal – It’s not a bargain, it’s booty!

And bear in mind that the property was taken from somebody’s home because the thief had figured out that there was a reward to be gained from stealing from person A and selling the plunder to person B. So who can blame them, right?

Even now there are people around us who are upset about the unravelling of society and rising crime on one hand, but feel fortunate when they rake in stolen goods on the other. I would invite such people to ride down Kimberley’s former Jones Street – now Phakamile Mabija Road – one evening and look at what you are contributing to.

Consider that thieves are a much higher order being than, let’s say, a baboon, and vastly more intelligent – now allow me to explain why I referenced ‘baboons’.

A friend of mine told me of how one day on a hiking trip, he and his companions found themselves in a narrow gorge with steep rock cliffs rising on either side.

Beautiful and peaceful at first, it soon became a harrowing ordeal, when a troop of baboons led by a massive male started following the hikers.

My friend told me afterwards that baboons in that area had learned that hikers keep food in their backpacks. So when these hikers crossed the stream, the baboons crossed the stream; when they crossed back, the troop crossed back, never taking their eyes off the backpacks.

The baboons had learned that backpacks are a source of food because hikers would, in the past, feed the cute apes from their backpacks. Now the cute apes had grown up, organised, and decided that they didn’t want scraps anymore, they wanted everything.

Fortunately, these hikers got lucky and found a narrow opening through which they could escape the gorge and get to safety. But this story could have ended differently.

Another time, years ago, I was at Cape Point where there are quite a number of baboons. Everywhere there were signs prohibiting the feeding of the apes, but during the entire time I was there baboons were being offered snacks from every single car that had stopped.

These days, I have heard, the baboons are a menace in the vicinity. They have lost their fear of humans and will take whatever they want, and who is brave enough to stand up to a fully grown baboon? So the wise thing to do at Cape Point is keep the doors locked and the car’s windows shut. The apes even test the door handles to see if they can gain access. I find that pretty unnerving.

And similarly it is also pretty unnerving to live in Kimberley.

Let’s face it, generally thieves and burglars seldom have use for appliances and power tools. But they can do with the money that they acquire from the sale of these items. And as long as thieves have a market for their plunder this problem will continue and it will grow.

However, on the bright side, the converse should also be true. If people would stop accepting stolen goods then, theoretically, the market for burglary would dry up. I mean why would you steal a power tool that you will never use if you knew that nobody would buy it from you?

So to our ‘bargain hunters’ out there who support bandits, stop it! Wait for sales and Black Friday deals like the rest of us. Wait in line and punch your fellow shoppers like a decent citizen!

Bear in mind that no bargain is worth creating a city that looks like a storage facility. We all have the responsibility and privilege to make an effort to turn this around before things really get out of hand.

And it could start with either a call to the cops, or at least a simple ‘no thank you’.

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