Thanks for Stealing: Part 2
So this time around we had arranged to put up our house for sale. We filled out the paperwork and an agent came out and stuck up a for sale sign on our lawn as well as a box of brochures describing the house.
I work at home but my main job as far as I was concerned was to stay out of the way of prospective home buyers. Surely they can be more candid and open with their own real estate person if they can say: “Do you believe that anyone could have such bad taste as to have a carpet of a hideous mustard yellow like next to barf green wall?” And say it without my overhearing them and getting my feelings all hurt. By the way, in actuality the walls are mustard yellow and the carpet is barf green. Just saying.
Our own realtor advised me to open the door to the visitors, make an excuse about working at home and make good my escape back to the computerized sanctuary of my home office.
This was perhaps my first mistake in the proceedings. I only got a good look at the particular real estate agent who shepherded his or her flock around our house. The would-be house buyers probably noticed that I rarely took a good look at their faces. If you are a thief the willful ignorance of a mark and his failure to do anything that could potentially identify you as the culprit is a very good sign. No one who might do anything will know what you look like.
Another of my mistakes was to ignore a potential warning sign. Although I did not take a good look at the three people who came to see the house at the time the theft I did notice that they did not seem to be together. It appeared at my quick glance that there were three adults who did not strike me as being related. Yeah my spidey sense should have been tingling on that one. What are three people who don’t appear to be related doing looking for a house together?
Another bad sign was that the real estate agent was a really attractive blonde woman. Hate to say this guys but whenever a knockout shows up expectedly and she is really, really nice, check your wallet. This trick is as old as the hills and twice as dusty.
When I think back on it, I had let my guard down for many reasons that day. It had been raining and in the back of my mind people don’t do things like rob a house when they can get wet do they? Yeah, that was stupid reasoning on my part. Also, at or near the time of the theft, one of my neighbors was using a noisy leaf blower to clean up some of that nasty mating spore stuff that some oak trees drop in the spring. So I was vaguely wondering when the noise would stop and not thinking about what kinds of other noises could be masked by a noisy leaf blower.
I had been concerned earlier in the day that my swimming pool was carrying a little too much water due to the recent heavy rains. For this reason I ran the pool pump and connected a water hose to the pump and sent some excess water down one of the pool drains. I turned off the pool pump at around 12:30 because I know the house showing was due at 1:30PM. Then the suspicious three and their beautiful realtor showed up, looked around and left. The neighbor started blow drying her sidewalks. I did some office work until 4:30PM. I went out into the back yard. I figured that if an old lady can go out and take care of her yard when she wasn’t trying to sell her house, I had no excuse to avoid sweeping up my sidewalks. I was just about to pick up a broom and dustpan that we have parked out by the brick façade wall of the master bedroom when I glanced at the pool. I did not quite understand what I was seeing so I got closer to the pool. It was gone. Or at least disconnected. Surely that was it. The polaris, an automated pool cleaning device that ran off water pressure must have gotten its hose disconnected and surely I would find at the bottom of the pool.
It was not there. I used the long handled, extendable brush to touch the bottom of the pool but my eyes had already told me the truth. The polaris was gone.
This one as all on me. There were two reasons why I had left the lock off the garden gate door. One was, we had lost the key. I was worried that if someone locked it we would have to cut the lock off. In retrospect, a broken lock is a lot cheaper than a $400 polaris. The second reason I did not have the lock on is just in case the prospective buyers wanted to wander the whole property unencumbered. In retrospect my attitude on that should have been: Let them buy the place if they want to do that.
For both my wife and myself the theft was almost unbelievable because of the brazenness of it. In order to steal the polaris first you have to disconnect the hose. Then you have to drag the hose behind the device as you cradle it and make a mad dash for your truck. All whilst the homeowner was a scant 10 yards away and fully capable of catching you at any time. If I was in the business of stealing stuff I would never have picked that thing at that time.
When I reported the theft to my real estate agent she reminded me that the papers I had signed included language that absolved her of responsibility. And she refused to tell the other real estate agent, the hot one; because I could not be absolutely sure it wasn’t a neighbor who had done the deed.
False flags and conspiracies
As some are aware, I am conspiracy minded.
So the most likely conspiracy was the three folks who may have been just pretending to look at the house. What they really may have wanted to do was to confirm that yes indeed, this homeowner was stupid enough to leave something unattended and distracted enough to not notice when it was stolen. Could the good looking real estate be in on it? Well of course she could, but I doubt it. The main reason I doubt it was the same reason I doubted the complicity of the police in part I of “Thanks for Stealing”. Namely, there’s not enough profit. In fact, it would not surprise me if some guy didn’t use an unsuspecting couple as cover and he stole the polaris all by his lonesome. There’s not enough profit to go around to have a lot of people in on this scam. I would imagine he goes around, pretending to look at houses when all he is really doing is looking for chances to steal.
The neighbor hypothesis
But wait, there’s more! The surveillance aspect of this robbery really intrigues me. Sure I am in the front of the house where my home office is and the polaris was in the back of the house where the pool is but if I got up to get a cup of tea, there is a good chance I might see you if you were stealing my equipment. Being quick about it could allow you to get away with it anyway but what if you really wanted to be sure you would not be caught?
Enter suspect number two: Drone idiot. A while back a neighbor crashed his drone into our roof while we were watching television. While we were returning the pieces to him I asked my wife if she thought he might be a peeping tom using the drone to look at her. She expressed a rather large amount of disinterest in the idea so I let it drop. Later I noticed the neighbor had gotten another drone but he used it to peep at other folks on other streets. Suppose the drone idiot was embarrassed by getting caught and wanted to get even with us for catching him. With the drone he had a way to keep an eye on me and to know where I was at all times. After all, before the theft, I kept the curtain and blinds to my home office open at all times. Anyone on or above the street could verify when I was in the office at all times. The conspiracy breaks down a little here because the drone idiot would need a confederate and a way to communicate with the confederate and the confederate would have to know how to pilot the drone for this part of the scheme to work.
A simpler neighbor hypothesis could be any neighbor who felt I slighted him in anyway who was getting payback. Simpler still is some neighbor stealing the polaris for a quick sale. About the simplest is some neighbor with a pool but no working polaris who observed that mine worked.
The real suspect
There are a couple of reasons why my wife and I believe it was a “home buyer” rather than a neighbor. One is, how did the neighbor know that the garden gate was unlocked and that there would be something to steal, and that it would be easy to steal? The “home buyer” could have even disconnected the polaris while supposedly looking through the home and then taken it later.
After weighing the pros and cons of reporting the theft to the police we elected not to. Although it’s too late for the polaris I do now have a lock on the garden gate door and I get up regularly to check the place. And I have the blinds and curtains on my office closed at all times so that no one really knows when I am in my office.