I’d just finished fiddling with the replacement power supply unit for my computer and fired the thing up again when my attention was drawn to noise across the street. I’d had a hard time with the beast and lost track of time. It was 2 a.m. Bill the Burglar seems to be active around this time, with a newly cultivated mate who has a small car. The mate turns up fairly regularly, leaving the engine running, making enough noise to wake me up. Tonight, they arrived together and unloaded fairly heavy material from the boot, carrying it round the back of the house. Noisy jerks, for burglars, and tonight the chum was ‘knackered’ and clunked off after the drop.
Bill is in and out of prison and has lived round here for 40 years – he used to burgle dwellings – most round here had a visit – and these days has a penchant for whatever ASDA leaves near the door. There’s a ‘wife’ and three kids, probably another on the way. He’s on police bail and likely to go down again soon. They are living in the house while it’s up for sale. Pity, in a way, we didn’t have riots here, as it’s hard to imagine he could have resisted and thus attracted the firm action his persistent criminal activities don’t.
Local police are onto him but I wonder how widespread the ‘Bill the Burglar phenomenon’ is and what we could learn from a detailed elaboration of it. In this particular case there is Bill and his long-term recidivism, the woman, a druggie, the kids and a network that includes her decent mother and a range of criminal and agency involvement. I suspect the wider story stands in contrast to the success stories of police statistics and crime fighting conferences.