Sunday, 21 September 2014
Enough has been written about the exploding house prices in E17 and it environs, less about crime and its number.
It is, therefore, with some pleasure I am able to recount two tales where the criminal, after some while, has been bested.
The first relates to an elderly couple in our street. They've been in their house some 40 odd years - moved in when they first married. But life has not been kind to them. The wife has extreme difficulty in walking, her husband, after falling into a diabetic coma, suffering from congestive lung disease and a recent heart attack is currently house bound.
A few years back they "befriended" a young beggar - he has/had a pitch outside the local rundown cinema. He's into drugs, squatting, fighting and generally having fun.
He'd regularly visit the couple, and although the wife seemed to have a soft spot for him, the husband couldn't stand the boy and made that clear. For a number of years people would comment about this strange relationship but it wasn't our business was it.
Things changed dramatically when the husband was taken seriously ill and admitted into hospital. With him out of the way the beggar's visits became more frequent. He'd turn up at all hours, intimidated the wife to give him the front door key, invited his equally druggy friends in. He was heard claiming that when the husband died he'd get the house - at one point it seemed that the husband had mere days left.
A number of us were so concerned that we contacted social services, the police and our local councillors. Social services visited as did the police - all assured by the wife that she was coping and the young man was no trouble.
Much to our surprise the husband recovered to the extent that he was moved back home. Shortly afterwards one of his neighbours took him to a cash point to draw out some money. His account was light by some £3,500. All drawn during the summer and at the same time 10 pm.
It turned out that the wife had given the beggar her husband's cash card - why, we don't know.
Subsequently, when the wife received a final demand for the TV licence we learnt that she'd given the young man the money to renew the licence - which of course he didn't.
Since this discovery, the police have been on the case and social services are drawing up a plan to improve the lives of these two pensioners. The young beggar has been arrested but is out on bail. However, he doesn't now trouble the old couple.
The second tale is more prosaic. Over the years we've been losing produce from our allotment site. People have gone down to find their tomato vines stripped, all their peppers gone, or their fruit trees denuded.
Our allotment site is surrounded by two public car parks, the back gardens of houses and a large park. It's impossible to secure all the boundaries and in the past we've had powered lawn mowers stolen. Other sites have had all their stock removed from secure Sea Containers. But....there was the suspicion that the theft of produce on our site was not by outsiders but by someone on the site. Crucially the produce stolen was always ripe or near ripe.
We had our suspicions but no proof. After much debating we installed a couple of cameras. I frankly didn't think they'd be much use. Our site is large - where do you put them. We'd had them for over a year and the most we'd caught on camera was the back of heads of the allotment holders, cats, foxes and a few curious magpies.
Until this week. I and other committee members received two stills from one of the cameras. It clearly showed one of our allotment holders stealing from an allotment plot. There was no question who it was - the one who'd been suspected all along.
Today he was confronted, shown the pictures, asked to surrender his key and marched off the site. If he tries to get back- it'll be the police he'll be answerable to.
I'd been worried for a while that my Hubbard and Spaghetti squashes were likely to be innocent victims. Now I can sleep soundly.