THE AFTER-CRIME: CHEESED OFF BY POLICE SERVICE
I WAS robbed on a Sunday morning, just as I arrived at a speaking engagement. I shouted for help, but alas – there went my phone. Four security guards emerged out of the little house at the boom gate. Where had they been? This is Joburg, what else do you do? At least they didn’t hurt me, right?
As reality set in, I borrowed a smartphone from a member of the event team and followed the drill: Sounded the phone alarm to annoy them, then checked to see if my phone was still online for tracking purposes, then remotely deleted everything on it. Only then did I get upset.
If you have never had to report a crime, then you would not know the further irritation of having to deal with the police. I can tell you that you are at their mercy and they know it.
On this particular occasion, I arrived armed with as much preparation as possible: IMEI and ITC numbers written legibly on a piece of paper. Address where the incident took place and events as clearly narrated as possible. Extra two pens for luck. Two options for identity. Rescue remedy.
Reporting was fun. I was sent to a cubicle where I waited for 20 minutes. I felt like I was in a room where hopes and the will to live go to die. Eventually the officer returned, asking her colleagues for stationery. Turns out they had run out. Of forms, of paper, of pens. She managed to dig the last form out from somewhere in the back.
She asked me if I had a pen. I nearly hi-fived myself. She asked me for the IMEI and ITC numbers. I smiled. I gave those to her before we came to sit this side. She blinked. She asked me if I had them written somewhere else – perhaps even on my phone. I smiled widely. My phone was stolen and, no, I gave her the only source of those numbers. She breathed. I breathed. She got up. Twenty-five minutes later, she was back with the piece of paper. She asked me what the value of my phone was. I gave a ballpark figure, but she asked me if I couldn’t just Google it on my phone. I smiled but my mouth twitched. Her colleague walked in. I asked her how much she thought the phone cost. She answered quickly. The very amount I had offered.
In the time that I had been waiting for stationery to be found, a young man arrived to report his phone. He was received by a cop with a terrible stutter and an apparent hearing problem. This young man repeated himself so many times I could confidently re-report his incident verbatim. He still finished before me. I popped a rescue remedy. At least I wasn’t hurt, right?