Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about thieves and how much they cause the cost of living to increase no matter where you live. Insurance companies hike up premiums when you drive a desirable car. We spend hundreds of dollars per year on home security just trying to keep our own things inside our own homes. People can’t even swipe their cards in peace without worrying about someone trying to make an easy buck off stealing their identity.
A Missing House
One of the reasons I’ve been so focused on thievery lately is because my tiny-home-to-be will be movable. This seemed like the absolute best solution so that if California comes back on my radar, I load that puppy up and tow it right back to the desert town that won my heart in 2019.
But, can you imagine going to the store and coming home to find that someone else has already done the honors of towing your rig for you? Insurance could replace the rig, no doubt. But there’s no replacing the Black King of my household who might be left onboard. Cats, after all, do not take kindly to car rides.
A Stolen Phone
Like most people, I have encountered thieves before, and it left a bad taste in my mouth. The time that stands out most to me occurred less than a year before I left Jamaica. I had adopted a big, black pooch for my protection and used to take him running with me on weekend mornings.
However, one morning, my friend and I planned a route that a pitbull was on. The dog was vicious, unchained and was not in a fenced yard. The last thing I wanted was for him to attack my poor labrador retriever who wouldn’t hurt a fly, even if size made him look otherwise.
That morning, we ran all the way to the end of our neighborhood and then worked our way back. The return trip was uphill, so eventually, we slowed our pace to a temporary walk. Halfway up the hill, we encountered a thief. My friend was using her phone and apparently, it caught his eye.
He threatened her with a knife and told her to give him her phone. I was about six feet away from her and could have run off, but this was my friend. I stayed and waited patiently for him to approach me. All the while, I was contemplating if I could shove him off the wall to our left. I stood close enough to the edge to weigh my options.
When he asked for my phone, I didn’t reply. I was still calculating the possibility of throwing him off the edge without him pulling me over, as then, we would both die. Meanwhile, he had a knife to my throat and my friend was screaming at me to give up the phone. I reached over his head and threw it down the hill so he had to go get it, giving us time to get away.
That was my last straw with Jamaica, really. Thieves are one of our biggest problems on the island, whether they’re putting a knife to your throat or scamming you out of your money on the phone. There are only a few bad apples doing this, but they make such a career out of it that no one is left unaffected.
Reporting the Thief
When I reported the incident to the police, the officer shook his head and sighed. “We’ve been getting multiple reports of this young man,” he said. “Didn’t you have pepper spray?”
“Pepper spray is illegal,” I reminded him.
He scoffed at that. “Next time, bring pepper spray. If you haven’t used it for malicious purposes, no one is going to arrest you because you have some pepper spray in your purse or on your keys as a woman.”
After a pause, I confessed, “I really contemplated pushing him off that wall.”
The officer brightened. “I really wish you had,” he said. “It would have done us a nice favor. No more women getting held up on the streets.”
After I left the police station, I bought pepper spray and kept it on my person at all times, but I never went for another run through my neighborhood again. I joined a gym instead.
A Dying Thief
Well, while ruminating about thievery and thieves, I came across a video that’s been circulating on Jamaican Twitter. I won’t include it here because it’s graphic. The story behind the video is that a high school student was on her way to school when a man grabbed her purse and ran off. She chased him, caught up with him, took her phone, and stabbed him.
When the video starts, you hear people in the background discussing what happened and commending the young lady’s bravery for going after him. The man is lying in a pool of his own blood. He is not dead, but he’s disoriented and struggling to move.
The police arrive before the ambulance and decide it is better to rush him to the hospital themselves — a common practice in Jamaica when the ambulance doesn’t get there in time. One officer asks the people gathered around to assist with getting the man onto the bed of the pickup truck.
The group shares the consensus that he should be left to die and deserves no help. The officer begs them to give the man a chance. One replies that they would rather kick him in the face than help him into the pickup truck.
A Cold Heart?
I won’t lie. I felt no sympathy for the man. I do believe that stabbing him was a hell of an escalated response from a student for a stolen phone. In fact, one might argue that a person’s life isn’t worth a cellphone. But, what if it’s a thief’s life?
When I was in high school, there was a news report of a young woman who was using her phone when a man tried to steal it. She was speaking to someone on the phone when he appeared before her. She hung up, threw it on the ground and stepped on it, breaking it.
“If I can’t have it, you can’t have it either,” she said. The man stabbed her to death. I don’t know if the police ever discovered who he was or if he was ever found.
I think about these incidents sometimes, and about the general over-engineered precautions women have to take to protect ourselves from other people’s greed. Coveting our phones and purses and cars and even our bodies. As the “weaker” sex, we are bad men’s favorite targets.
So, when a thief is lying in a pool of his own blood and rolling around like a helpless newborn, after victimizing a young schoolgirl, I have a really hard time conjuring up an ounce of sympathy for his predicament.