Saturday, July 26, 2008

Thieving again at St John's

Last week half the lead on the low lying boiler house roof disappeared overnight. The church architect inspecting work being done elsewhere on the building, reported it by email later in the day. The roof in question is close to the railings, at the place where Working Street meets with St John Street (aka in Cardiff demotic, St John 'square'). There's been a lot of upheaveal here of late because of the repaving of the area in stages, with work going on from eight till eight most nights when the supply of materials is sufficient, and in place. Somehow, between eight at night and eight next morning, someone must have parked a van close to the spot - it's not easy to leg it with a hundredweight of lead in a sack - and started stripping the roof. Possibly the culprit was disturbed in the act, as not all the lead was taken. This is within range of two CCTV cameras, if they are pointed in the right direction, AND .... the new street lighting is still on 24/24. But there's just such chaos around the place at the moment that it's not surprising nobody noticed and reported any suspicious activity.

Today, I had a wedding. I cycled in early, to do the registers and get the place ready. It was a happy occasion. The sun shone, the tea room tables chairs were out in the churchyard and well used across lunchtime and into the afternoon. When it was time to return home, I discovered that my bike, double locked to the inside of the church railing close to the sacristy, had been stolen. My new three month old Giant Rock mountain bike! New because I'd worn out a previous bike, a cheap one, only three years old. Discarded on the ground where the bike had stood were the two security cables, sheared through with bolt cutters. Whoever did it had entered the church yard, passing through tables where people were eating, drinking and talking, cut the bike free and wheeled it out in the same way as they'd entered, as bold as brass.

I ride back and forth twice a day from home to church and further afield, twenty odd miles a week and it keeps me fit. Being a Vicar on a bike makes me visible enough to those who work or hang out in the center, no doubt. So it's more than likley the thief knew whose bike was being stolen. It looks as if, spotting there was a wedding on, they took the risk of liberating the bike at a time when it would be certain that I would be otherwise occupied. Tracking down witnesses, past whom the bike would have been wheeled, is just about impossible, as so many people pass by for a cuppa and a sit down, especially when the weather is good.

I still have the receipt for it, frame number C77P8613, if anyone gets the offer of a nearly new Giant Rock mountain bike in metallic blue and silver. The receptionist at Central Police Station who took the details when I reported it asked me if it was chained to a bike rack. Bike rack? We've been promised them in the area around the church for the past four years. but what's a promise worth? The existing bike racks up by Nye Bevan's statue, and down the Hayes are overcrowded. The churchyard railings serve as bike rack for half a dozen or more bikes at any time, making such a mess of the paintwork that it's hardly worth repainting them until there is an alternative. Of course I could have put my bike in the sacristy, as I often do when it's wet, but it's still in a state of disarray, making it a bit of a deterrent to use as a secure bike park - more fool me for not making the effort.

I guess the bike will be traded for cash fairly soon, at a fraction of its value, and the cash used to feed someone's addicition around the block somewhere nearby. Around here, theft and drugs go hand in hand in robbing people of life and dignity, and not nearly enough is being done to prevent drugs circulating as freely as they do on the streets. The thing that makes me really fed up tonight is my discovery that the in three months since I bought it, the price of the bike has risen by 10%. What a rotten conclusion to an otherwise lovely day.

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