Signorina in Sheffield #2 – Of crime and punishment

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And so it happened. Coming from a country in which a quarter of the territory is ruled directly by members of organized crime, I thought the UK would be the land of safety, unless you were in a Saturday night pub crawl. Not quite so, but at least I now have the cultural experience of dealing with English Police.

Last Friday morning I was working hard on my laptop (read: removing my tag from pictures in which I looked fat) when I decided to take a break and go to microwave myself some soup (Italians can be junkie-food addicted, too).

I live in a ground floor room and my table overlooks the beauty of Broomhall’s barracks; but it is a good view if you want to alienate yourself and just work.

Anyway, I was eating my soup when I heard a terrible sound of broken glasses.

I gave for granted it was the garbage collector and I kept eating, at peace with the world….until my Iraqi housemate called me from outside the house.

I went off the street and here it was, the closest thing to a Greek Tragedy I’ve ever seen: my window was broken, a big brick laid in the middle of the table, and my adored laptop had disappeared.

It was a silver grey Sony VAIO professional notebook SR series, 13’’ 1.9 kgs: the fastest and most reliable computer in the world. I had also performed a downgrade to XP so I wouldn’t have to use that hideous Vista system.

I would actually appreciate a minute of silence for the best colleague I ever had (and that comes with no offence at all to my human colleagues!).

The smart guy who took it hadn’t noticed that he was doing it in the middle of the day on a busy street.

By the time I came out of the house, three different people had already called the police and made a perfect description of the man.

To my surprise, the police arrived immediately: the moment I saw the broken window they where there.

In Italy, when I called the police because we had found a collapsed guy by the river, they arrived 40 minutes after the call – sooner than the ambulance, in their defence.

The policeman who stayed with me, agent D., was incredibly nice and understanding.

He never once hinted that he might have had more serious stuff to work on rather than writing down the description of me drinking soup and then finding out about the missing laptop.

He wrote down everything I said accurately and then took time to explain the whole bureaucratic process of my statement.

In Italy, when my wallet was stolen, I had to go to the Central station and fill in a prewritten module with little space for my personal situation, all in 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, other police officers were arresting the guy.

Although my laptop was not found, I was able to recover at least the connecting cable, so that now I have something to hug when I feel desperately dissociated from the technological world.

In Italy, what you usually do when something is stolen from you is to go to the black market and re-buy it.

It doesn’t work with every item, but it definitely works with bikes for instance.

And if you can prove you are re-buying your own bike and not just a random stolen one, you get great discounts.

Folklore aside though, I was impressed with the efficiency and the caring these people took in my case.

After all, it was just a dumb laptop (although I adored it, did I already mention that?) owned by a dumb Italian girl. They tried to find it.

In Italy, if something like this happened it would be your problem.

Later that night, my Iraqi housemate tried to cheer me up saying that in Baghdad there are thefts in his house every day. He himself owns 2 guns: a kalashnikov and a revolver, depending on the type of crime.

Even though I am now looking for a new room to live in, I am pretty happy I am in a country where the administration of justice is dealt by the State. It’s definitely a big comfort.

By Marta Musso

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