Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Forensics


Well, I never thought this would happen to us....

Jane and I went to clear bedding from our boat late last Sunday and I opened the door for her whilst I wanted to check the drive electrics.... she said "You didn't leave the cushions like that, did you, Edwin?"

Oh my goodness. Somebody had broken in through the bow doors of the boat and ... pee-ed in the loo and not flushed it, grabbed the cushions from the front seats to make a pillow, slept in the bedding we gone to collect, had a fag or three they'd stacked on the shelf by the bed....

Stunningly, NOT touched anything else. Even the damage to the bow doors was minimal... and goodness knows they were never actually seriously "secure" - small bolts to look pretty with one's fitting seriously damaged ever since I'd had to break in through those doors (two years ago?) when the snib on the Yale lock at the back had somehow locked us out....

We tidied up (easy enough to do) and collected the bedding, Jane chucked two of the fag ends into the canal but the third into the bin on the boat... I refixed the bit on the bow doors had been knocked free and tried to dream up a way to make sure the same person couldn't easily get in again...

They hadn't touched our food store - they could have cooked themselves a meal if they'd wanted! - not even touched the Blandford Fly beer in the cupboard, brewed by Badger...

An interesting ale one of Jane's writer friends demanded for the writers' party - it's spicy/ginger flavoured. Jane says it's like barley ale. It's definitely different and quite pleasant...

This was late afternoon Sunday last... we decided we should tell the police simply for them to be aware...

Amazingly enough, they took it entirely seriously and demanded to send a SOCKO person to collect samples...

Yes, actually DNA, said the cigarette butt was the best thing. The photo is of one of my butts - the actual butt was roll-your own....

Well, I screwed a wooden bar across the doors so if the same person came back they'd realise they weren't so easy to push open... and we left signs on the door saying the door was now screwed closed and the police were connecting DNA samples... which we first wrote not realising they really WOULD!

I gathered our forensic evidence into a plastic bag with not too much care since the boat must be absolutely full of our DNA!!.....

When on Monday we went to meet the SOCKO lady (a curiously wizened older lady) I slightly nervously wondered if the person might have tried again... no. But more than that, it was easy to tell because there were now undisturbed spiders' webs across both stern and bow entrances... and, indeed, in the cabin there were spiders' webs.... they're only little-ish spiders and so don't freak me despite my arachnophobia.....

We thought we must tell our "landlord" Oxford Design etc... the office is all locked up, you have to buzz to be admitted. I asked for Nigel Holt who's a boat fanatic and tends to watch the moorings for that reason although he's not officially the person in charge of our arrangement...

The receptionist (I'd never seen in my life before!) said "You're Mr. Osborn?" Fascinating, she must have learnt this from office gossip and posting our invoices since otherwise she had no reason to realise... I said, "Well, yes, but actually, as it says on the boat, we're Edwin and Jane or if you look on the other side, Jane and Edwin." She said she never walked that far down the car park, hadn't seen the signs on the boat.

WOW. That's stunning. You would have thought that in several years she would at some point read the sign on the boat. Oh, she obviously knew I was a harmless eccentric but I would have loved to know why she seemed to almost laugh. Not that I'm paranoic, be clear. But who had said what she clearly knew we were on the side of the angels? I find that almost more fascinating than what the DNA test may reveal. If anything.

Nigel came along with huge grin - he was foolish enough to want to know about our electric drive and was stunned to discover this was something I could wax on about at length.... poor man. He didn't know I used to be a physics teacher and just love people to understand why something works so well... he mostly just wanted to know it did....

He has his own boat up the canal, recently built, very swish, called Mallard. After the blue paint.. same colour as Mallard steam engine, he told me that bit. Not quite right, actually, and why didn't he admit he liked model trains until I drew that out of him? Yes, yes, he'd had a Hornby Dublo Mallard model... as we had, very battered, never ran well, so many years ago one thinks of big bang theories.

Oh but. For his boat he has heavy iron bars across the doors with big padlocks which he instantly admitted were a pain before I even said they would be....

I didn't add that, if you did that, it implied there was something inside worth stealing. So somebody might really try to break in. He's a nice guy, he admitted it WAS a pain, he'd bolt everything in place and then realise he'd forgotten....

Ah dear, the number of times working on our now working charge meter I took the mobile phone in case Jane had a message... from experience I couldn't hear it if left in my jacket, so I'd put it on the side... yes, yes, you guessed, I'd do what I was doing, have my mind full of things needed sorting out, get home and suddenly realise I'd left the mobile on the boat. Sometimes, only next day.....

I told Nigel what I really thought I'd do was place a flashing red LED in view.. he said "You WOULD!"....

Oh, but, nobody ever tried to touch our older cars once I bethought to place a black plastic box on the dashboard with a slowly flashing red LED. Then I had to make the circuit - these days you can buy flashing red LEDS and all you need to do is connect them to a battery to make them flash warningly and mysteriously that you might have a security system...

But I'm curious who on earth bothered to break in but then was remarkably polite about it, nothing damaged (except in opening the door) or stolen... somebody stacked their fag stub ends on the shelf carefully except not perfectly - there's a very slight singe mark....

Jane swears the bedding was still slightly warm but also insists the person couldn't have gone via the bow doors for detecting we were arriving... I'm not so sure about that. IF she's right and the bedding was still warm, not a chance he came out via the stern door or we would have seen.

Madly enough, I don't feel our precious boat was sullied somebody broke in - perhaps because it is an ex hire boat and goodness knows has been on it during it's usage... and it was even back out as a hire boat after we owned it... indeed, on our trip to Banbury somebody passing said they'd been on it, I suddenly realised, quite possibly during the time it was ours but still hired out...

I guess the wizened SOCKO lady is right only the cigarette butt might show anything interesting.... any of the other things would easily have DNA not only from us but a host of people have had a trip on the boat....

The other thing was very curious was that the person had taken a bundle of our loo paper into the bed with them. Just SO strange. Why would somebody take a bundle of loo paper into bed with themselves? No sign at all there was anything on it... did they take it in case they might exude something?

Jane's cross we should spoil our boat to keep people out. I agree. I shall remove the barricade soon... just thought it should be there in case the person thought they could just call back easily. The boat has been there 7 years... I think... this is the first time anybody has broken in. Whoever it is needs a message that isn't allowed or possible...

And yet it must be a lonely soul... and not even a drinker or surely they would have spotted the beer? Terrible admission, I would have! Mind you, I would have also known how to flush the loo...

Now, I would like to know if my DNA shows disposition to horrendous ills. But I suspect not. And if it did, would I really want to know? No! But, then, when I hear of other people's really awkward problems I realise it's terribly unfair I'm basically absurdly healthy. Perhaps people should take my DNA to discover what you need not to be about to suffer some dire fate?

But who was the sad person broke into our boat to have a kip and a pee and smoke three fags? Somebody suggested a tramp character we've all seen around, I said it couldn't be him because he smelt and there was no trace of untoward smell....

The wizened Socko lady realised I was merely revealing possible thoughts when I suggested escapee from the immigration place nearby... or maybe the Al-Quaeda guy on the run from Germany. How did she KNOW I wasn't serious I really thought it might be either?

Much more likely a lonely soul desperate. But naughty because it really isn't done to break into somebody's boat ... but SO curious they ONLY broke in to... have a pee, grab the cushions to use the bed, smoke just three cigarettes. Not touch anything else except to move our ropes and life-jackets off the bed to clear it - neatly placed just where I would have!

I can't help wondering if it wasn't a woman, the moved things were placed so neatly, indeed, the lifejackets folded to fit into the space! If only I'd thought... Jane flushed the loo before I saw the urine... actually female urine smells different from male, I could have detected if only we'd thought....

I know? Lordy, when I worked as a psychiatric nursing assistant the male and female wards smelt totally different and... it was sweat and urine. Men and women, in bulk, smell different. Any dog could, of course, tell you this instantly. If only they could talk. I always so wished our family dogs could... but they did, in their way... indeed, it was quite funny to suddenly realise you could work out what they were thinking because they'd look at things revealing what they were thinking about ... and don't tell me dogs don't show emotions, I'd even get a mournful look I wasn't about to take them for a walk because I was looking at them amused that was what they'd been thinking about.... and the reproachful look I'd get for being amused!

But perhaps the DNA will trace a known person with problems... well, they must have for what they did. They definitely need help.

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