Wednesday, February 20, 2013

To Catch a Thief

I'm in an Alfred Hitchcock mood. That is, somewhat catty and melodramatic, but also well-composed and ironic.

Someone stole my picnic table two nights ago and played kick ball with a potted plant. I cleaned up the plant and talked to my landlords about the table. Their little son said, with a worried look on his face,"Mais comme il y a des gens méchants!" ("Some people are just not very nice!")

They--possibly the thieves, or some other wise guy in the neighborhood-- also defaced my window shutters with a bad word. I found the permanent marker "F---" so ghastly I took to it last night with nail polish remover. It mostly came off, but there is some residual marker, and I didn't want to scrub too hard and ruin the green paint.

I don't know how things are done in France: if my landlords will chalk it up to a loss and forget it, or if they will press charges. There were a bunch of rowdy young men (that I heard--there could have been women too) outside my flat that night. I was in bed already and assumed they would just go away on their own. Well, they did and took the table with them! They must have been strong, or had a car, or disassembled it, because that was a big-ass wooden table. 

I feel terrible about it, though I know it's not my fault. The gate to my garden is not very secure--about four and a half feet tall with just a bitty lock anyone can reach over and unlock:

The sad thing is, petty crime seems to run rampant around here, in and around Marseilles. I've heard horror stories about three guys in Marseilles (also teaching assistants--from last year) who were in their kitchen on the third floor of an apartment building, when some thugs came in through the front door (with guns) and robbed them; I believe it was mostly computers and electronic equipment they stole. The guys moved out the next week.

But still! If someone stole my computer, I know at the moment I don't have the means to replace it! Then again, who would steal this computer? They'd have to be desperate: it's five years old and needs a new battery.

Then, there was a girl who's another teaching assistant this year who had large amounts of money stolen from her twice. I can't remember the first amount, but it was one of her first days in Marseilles, the money stolen by a pickpocket.. She came with her parents and they thought Marseilles (by reputation) was far too dangerous, so they asked the Academie  to give her a new placement outside the city. She still comes in to Marseilles on the weekends (don't we all, who live in neighboring small towns?) and had 300 Euros in cash on her, which was stolen from her purse at a club.

Needless to say, things could have been much worse, and I am unsettled, but hopefully things will be set straight. At least the thieves did not steal my canvas chairs, which went with the table--they didn't think enough of making a matching set!

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