A few days ago, this columnist was using an ATM machine while travelling and it warned me to “beware of robbery attempts” while simultaneously stealing my money through ridiculous bank fees.
It inspired me to call my network for a crime stories roundup.
Who took the toilets? The Patel family of Amarpur, a village near Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh, central India, recently registered a case of stolen lavatories with police.
“It’s shocking what people will take these days,” said M Yadav, who sent the story.
A China correspondent said toilet theft must sometimes happen in her country, too. Hotels in the West have an in-room price so they can charge guests who take bathrobes, but the Guangdong hotel price lists sometimes include toilets, sinks and TVs. “Apparently some hotel users carry serious plumbing gear with them,” she said.
Something about the missing toilet story rang a bell. Some time ago, this columnist was tipped-off about a man in India who reported a stolen hole in the ground. One day the hole was there and the next day it wasn’t, he said. Showing people his hole-free land, he displayed a letter certifying that he had been given a grant to dig a well and a police report confirming the well had been inspected. Now villains had taken it and he wanted compensation.
That story came from reader K. Sriram, who told me that police soon worked out what really happened. The man got a grant to dig a well but spent the cash on other things. So he had decided to complain that wicked thieves had run off with his hole in the hope of getting a victim-of-crime cash payment. His first mistake had been to fail to realise that you can’t really steal a hole and the second was the lack of motive. Robbers are busy, financially savvy people. They don’t have time to steal holes in the ground.
In the current missing toilets case, the police theory is that a grant was issued to officials to finance the building of toilets, but someone pocketed the money and filed “work completed” paperwork, leaving the family with no recourse but to file a multiple toilet theft case.
This appears to be “non-crime crimes month” as far as the universe is concerned. This columnist’s US correspondent said a woman was recently charged with stealing paving stones from outside the home of a neighbour in Port Richey, Florida.
“She hurt her back moving the 42 heavy stones and threatened to take out a criminal lawsuit against the owner,” she said. This proves my theory that the main difference between humans and other organisms is excessive chutzpah.
But maybe not just us. In Japan, police reported an attempted murder case after an old lady was found with nasty cuts. But there were no signs of any break-in at her apartment in Mifune. The mystery was solved as a neighbour spotted the bloodstained villain lurking in the neighborhood: A grumpy, mean-looking cat. “The cat cannot be charged with attempted murder because he is a cat,” said our tipster.
So once more, the real villains, such as that cat and my bank, get away with their crimes. Grrrr.
(Nury Vittachi is an Asia-based frequent traveller. Send ideas and suggestions via his Facebook page)