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This is a question I witnessed a crime

Freddy Woo writes, "A group of us once staggered home so insensible with drink that we failed to notice someone being killed and buried in a shallow grave not more than 50 yards away. A crime unsolved to this day."

Have you witnessed a crime and done bugger all about it? Or are you a have-a-go hero?
Whatever. Tell us about it...

(, Thu 14 Feb 2008, 11:53)
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chavs chavs chavs chavs chavs chavs chavs
I wasn't gonna write this one, but I should probably get it out of my system as it will be cathartic. Please bear with me - it's not particularly funny, but I need to vent. It'll probably be a long one, and may contain elements of repostiness, as I probably talked about some of this stuff before.

For a long time I lived on a street in London - the same one as Dr. Crippen, if you can be arsed to check - which was ideally situated (handy for the tube, great pubs, quick walk to Camden, my neighbours were fantastic) except for one thing. As the street had been extensively revitalised by the Luftwaffe's urban regeneration programme during the forties, in the fifties and sixties a lot of council blocks sprung up to fill the gaps. On the whole, this wasn't a problem - my flat was an ex-council place and lovely, it even had a garden, and like I said, fantastic neighbours - but there's always a couple of bad apples that spoil the whole orchard, and they lived in a block just behind mine. So over the four years I lived there I got to witness all kinds of crimes, mostly directed at me, my housemates or the flat itself, as these little scrotes (none older than 15) tried to make our lives a misery. Herein I shall try to document the ways.

It started off innocuously enough, when the morning after I stumbled down to the kitchen to make myself a cup of tea. Filling the kettle and staring out of the window, I spotted a young chav in my garden collecting tea-lights. Those little candles that I had bought 200 for 99p at the 99p shop - these things cost less than half a penny each. Surely the very definition of petty crime. I banged on the window, shouting "What the fuck do you think you're doing?" and the little bugger scarpered over the back fence. I made a mental note to grow brambles up the back fence, and left it at that.

Other things went missing from the garden over the next few weeks - small items often not worth stealing, like a trowel (also from the 99p shop), a gnome (whatever) and so on. In the meantime our sheds were done over and both of my housemates got their bikes nicked. My housemate Claudia had all the windows smashed in her Audi, which cost her a fortune. Things began to escalate.

The gang of chavs would now often hang out in the street and shout abuse at us. When my housemate Kirsten left her keys in the door while bringing in her shopping, they stole them. When Claudia did the same thing a week later while bringing in her bike (it must have taken about 20 seconds) they did the same thing again. We went through three new locks in three weeks, and the guy at the keycutters was becoming a close friend.

Over the years there were times of uneasy truce - they would pass a spliff through the fence, or I'd sort them out with some serious firewood for the Wicker Man-style bonfires that they held on the greenspace behind my garden, but most often the mood between us was one of mutual and barely-disguised loathing.

I credit them with the inspiration for my getting more right-wing as I get older, because while I was once a fully paid-up lefty, I'd quite happily see these parasites and their dolescum parents marched into a concentration camp after being forced to put up with their shit. A case in point - everyone who lived in my flat had a full-time, well-paid job. We paid £400+ per month rent, plus council tax, plus income tax etc. etc. for the privilege of living in the street. Said chavs are all in council places, subsidised or free. Lo and behold, the council comes round and fits all the flats in the street with new extra-tough double-glazed windows - except for ours and the flat next door, because we were the only private tenants. So basically, our council tax paid for the chavs to get new windows while we were left with old-fashioned huge single-pane-of-thin-glass type windows, which their kids used to come round and break for their amusement. I've lost count of the times we had to board them up - the hammer, nails and wood were always kept handy - and sometimes at night when there were 40+ teenage hoodies outside the flat it was like living through the dawn of the dead.

One bonfire night in particular, I had invited over a couple of my Canadian friends - one who had just married an Englishman - to do a proper bonfire night. I cooked dinner, we had sparklers and we let off a few fireworks in the garden. One of our rockets went up and went bang, and suddenly a chav starts screaming at us from the previously-mentioned Wicker Man inferno across the way. "We've got a baby over here! How dare you let off fireworks!"

Now I was perhaps a little naïve here, I was like, "What? It went up, went bang. Unless your baby is on the roof of that block of flats, there's no problem." Also, from where I was standing I could see toddlers carrying lit fireworks, even a dog running around with a fizzing roman candle in his mouth. I shit you not, this kind of thing was incredibly common in the run-up to bonfire night; even the very smallest chavs would be launching fireworks at each other, or us if we happened to be passing. Anyway, I couldn't understand why our small display had caused this proud father to become so protective of his offspring, considering he was standing in what looked to be a warzone.

Anyway, the mood turned nasty and every single fucking chav on the estate started hurling bricks and fireworks at our flat, putting through Claudia's window and throwing fireworks into her room (she was in bed with her boyfriend at the time). Said boyfriend (ex-army) proceeded to the kitchen to arm himself with every big knife he could find and stormed out to get himself some vigilante justice, but was miraculously prevented from earning himself a 20-year stretch by a passing skinhead with a pitbull who said he'd lived in the street for 15 years and it wouldn't do any good, basically talked him down.

We also had our windows put through by other people's garden furniture and fences - just smashed into bits and thrown. We had fruit, 2p coins, bits of wood, stones, cans, bottles, fireworks, obviously, and even on one occasion a housebrick thrown at us in the street. We've had them sneak into the kitchen and steal stuff while we popped upstairs to get something - twice. We've also had the door kicked in twice, both times I was away for the night else I would have been standing there with a cricket bat, ready to welcome the first chav into our house. On the first occasion my housemate threatened to kill them if they came near the house again so they went and put my car window through instead.

A bit later, and after I'd paid the £50 premium, I bought a "new" car (see below), thankfully still had the old one but was going to retire it. The new car had all its windows put through and then was stolen, apparently by someone else, some time after the original vandalism. I mean, who steals a boxy red 1983 VW Polo with the exhaust hanging off *after* it's had all its glass smashed?

They also managed to infiltrate a house party where they managed to fuck up a set of decks and two stereos and nick a bunch of phones and stuff (discovered later) before refusing to leave, upon being persuaded to leave they tipped over our (gargantuan, shared between four flats) bin all over the front garden. On that occasion we had the last laugh though, as present at the party were the entire staff of both the Good Mixer and the Dublin Castle, who are well-versed in dealing with arseholes, and had been watching from the upstairs window. Fifteen or so burly Aussies and Kiwis burst out of the house and made them pick every piece of rubbish back up again.

There is loads of stuff that I haven't even mentioned yet - stealing a stack of SFX magazines from my car and leaving them torn up all over the street, setting fire to a gazebo and bunting we had for a wedding reception (and which was attached to the flat at the time), smashing up my flowerpots and hanging baskets, stealing a £10 Argos drill (but not the battery pack, the bit that makes it work, as it was plugged in at the time), smashing my neighbour's windows with lemons (wtf?) while she was sitting at home alone, putting shit through the letterbox, stealing post, smashing my coldframe, killing my tomato plants, pulling the drainpipes off the building, crap graffiti, untold verbal abuse and threats, the list just goes on and on and on...oh and they tore down the side of my fence (which I'd had spraypainted by an absolute master of his craft with a massive Batman mural) and burnt it last bonfire night.

And where were the police in all this, you may ask. Well, I got to know all the neighbourhood officers quite well during this time, as well as my equally-harassed neighbours, and every time they said the same thing - "Yeah, we know who they are. We know where they live. There's nothing we can do about it." As they were all under 16 they were still classed as minors, and the police were always quick to remind me that assault on a minor carries a sentence. I asked them if a paintball gun could legitimately be used in self-defence against fireworks, and after laughing they said "No sir, I can appreciate it is tempting, but if they are under 16, you'll still be in the shit." So basically there was nothing I could do except try to photograph the little buggers in the act and email the pictures to the police. The best line I think they came out with was after my car window got broken. They said "You know we have a camera on the street now."
I replied: "Great, where is it?"
They said: "It points down the road there."
I'm like: "Great, that's exactly where my car is parked. You should have it all, can we see the tapes from last night?"
They said: "Er, it's not actually a camera. It's just a metal box on a stick. We can't afford a real camera. But it looks like a camera."
Me: "..."
I installed my own CCTV after that.

So, the moral of the story? I've now been living in Buenos Aires for three months and so far I've not been threatened, robbed or assaulted once. Perhaps it has something to do with the armed policeman who stands on the corner by my house, I don't know. All I know is that despite warnings from my Porteño friends that it's a poor area (many, many times poorer than the place I lived in London) and that crime is high, the only actual crime I've seen here is when my friend got his bag snatched from under a table in a pub in Palermo - one of the most touristy areas of the city. I think I'll come back to London at some point, but the proverbial wild horses couldn't persuade me to live in that area again, I'd rather move in with Pete Doherty.

Length speaks for itself.
(, Tue 19 Feb 2008, 17:26, 20 replies)
Well done for keeping your cool
sentence or not, I'd have still probably lost it and belted several of the little fuckers.
(, Tue 19 Feb 2008, 17:36, closed)
What awful little cunts. If they're old enough to throw a brick, they're old enough to get punished for it, in my opinion.

I'm glad you got out of that place.
(, Tue 19 Feb 2008, 17:38, closed)
@the Captain
I've been tempted many many times to do it - especially when I knew I was flying to the Argentine the next day and that there was no way I'd be caught...Britain doesn't even have an extradition treaty here, so even if they knew it was me and where I was there'd be nothing they could do about it, but I don't want to fuck up my chances of returning and being employable. I still plan the perfect vigilante beating in my head from time to time though...

[edit] now I think about it, the one thing that did keep me cool the whole time was the knowledge that I could do what they could never do, and what I eventually did, which was leave the estate.
(, Tue 19 Feb 2008, 17:44, closed)
"who steals a boxy red 1983 VW Polo with the exhaust hanging off *after* it's had all its glass smashed"
Me. Mk2 Polos are my very favourite cars. Behold their beauty and weep!

(, Tue 19 Feb 2008, 18:16, closed)
@ crackhouseceilidhband
oh for sure, that was the third red Polo I've owned. Great little cars, but considering I'd only bought the thing for £100 with windows intact, it must have been worth -£200 when they stole it.
(, Tue 19 Feb 2008, 18:23, closed)
gods knows how you didn't do time
I can't remember who, but someone once said

If you are not a liberal by the time you are 20 then you have no heart, and if you are not a conservative by the time you are 40 then you have no brain.

Or something
(, Tue 19 Feb 2008, 18:34, closed)
What little fuckers.
I hate those kind of little bastards, the state of the country at the moment means they can do what the hell they want and if you try and defend yourself your the one getting done.

Absolute bullshit.
(, Tue 19 Feb 2008, 19:10, closed)
if the kids are too young to be prosecuted (as is the bollocks trotted out by the police/social workers etc)
then theys should hold the parents of said thugs responsible. Parents are legally responsible for their kids until they're 16 so they should be responsible for when they commit crime too. Punishments should vary from withholding benefits and community service to imprisoning parents and putting the kids in a boot camp for a week.

After a few weeks of no fags or beer, or a couple of weeks being Mr Big's bitch in Wormwood Scrubs it should give them a little incentive to make sure their little fucking shits behave
(, Tue 19 Feb 2008, 19:24, closed)
i know the feeling
I currently own a house in a mainly council owned estate, and have similar problems, although not yet at the same scale that you had.

Its infuriating and the main reason that i want to leave this country. England is a great place, but is steadily being overun by taxpayer subsidised rapidly breeding scum.

Glad your story has a happy ending.
(, Tue 19 Feb 2008, 19:30, closed)
@ marksta
The police told me several times how the younger chavs were under ASBCs, meaning that if they got caught doing this kind of shit then their parents would lose their council flats, but nothing ever seemed to come of it - the police never caught them in the act, so to speak, and though we got a couple of promising emails back from the safer neighbourhoods team regarding photographs we sent them (never mind that it was six months after we sent them) that never seemed to come to anything either. Depressing all round.
(, Tue 19 Feb 2008, 19:32, closed)
Although I guess it did, in a way, have a happy ending since you eventually got the fuck out of there, I was really hoping for some kind of revenge and/ or justice.

That's really fucking awful. It's just ludicrous that our justice system refuses to do anything for people who are being subjected to a barrage of abuse in their own home. I really despair of this country in general and this city in particular sometimes.

Sorry, mate. I'm glad you got out!
(, Tue 19 Feb 2008, 19:45, closed)
Fuck me!
That sounds like you were living inside the sitcom shameless ... but ten times worse! Dunno how you kept your cool, I'd have gone mad!
(, Wed 20 Feb 2008, 3:18, closed)
Christ on a fucking bike!
How you stayed sane I do not know.

I'm fuming after Lady S's car got broken into twice in six months.
That's fucking nothing compared to your tale!
(, Wed 20 Feb 2008, 8:42, closed)
I lived on that street once.
The little fuckers used to break into my van and rub dog shit under the door handles. I eventually took to leaving mousetraps in the van for them to find with their creeping crawling gollum-like fingers...
(, Wed 20 Feb 2008, 9:34, closed)
Jeez... There's no way I'd have remained sane with that lot. I've had instances in the past where I've had to talk friends of mine out of braining whoever was making my life a misery at the time (one instance in particular involved an ex-colleague who made it his mission in life to make mine hell), so the temptation to unleash the dogs of war must have been almost too much to bear.

That's this country I'm afraid. If you are a social degenerate on benefits then the legal system loves you and will go out of its way to ensure you have all your whims catered for upon conviction. If you're a middle earning taxpayer then the odds are weighted against you.
(, Wed 20 Feb 2008, 11:03, closed)
All in all...
...it's better to be you, than to be them.

They're the kind that 'though they are in the gutter are trying to block the drain with dog shit and fag butts' not even aware of the stars, and if they did happen to notice them, would probably lob a half brick at them.

You get a better view from the moral high ground every time.

Now, go and have a cold beer on me.
(, Wed 20 Feb 2008, 12:17, closed)
Just vile
You have every right to vent. I hate the little darlings and just cannot believe how they hold whole communities to ransom with their behaviour and nothing can be done.
The injustice makes me choke.
Take care. SF
(, Wed 20 Feb 2008, 13:03, closed)
Mk2 VW Polos...
Reminds me of mine.

Way back in 1992 I inherited a 1989 Polo Fox in Artic White if you please. 1043cc of throbbing horsepower (circa 45bhp - my subsequent Golf GIT mustered a scary 139bhp - over three times the oomph!), no brake servo, no stereo and only 5985 miles on the clock.

It served me well for five years, sipping petrol like a Sally Army regular and having a lovely smooth engine which would happily plot at 75mph all day. The handling was idiot-proof (it needed to be) and the 135/70/R13 tyres were cheap to replace when threadbare.

Thanks to the lack of power assisted braking, emergency stops were a religion inducing affair though.

All hail it's boxy goodness.
(, Wed 20 Feb 2008, 14:19, closed)
I was just listening to the story of that teacher
lady who confronted some troublemakers with an air-pistol and got sent down for six months for her trouble. So, perversely, it makes sense not to confront such scum.

I appreciate your cool head in the face of adversity and therefore have clicked the like button.
(, Thu 21 Feb 2008, 10:43, closed)
I live in an ex-council house in Manchester, with an old granny next door in the semi-detached house. I dread when she dies who the council replace her with. As one bad apple seriously fucks up an area. And we're in an all right bit: car window smashed once and only 4 replacement living room windows. And I've made a point of not pissing anybody off.

(, Thu 21 Feb 2008, 10:58, closed)

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