Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Thievery Mystery

Someone has been stealing our laundry soap.

Three of the units in our six unit building have washer/dryers. The other three units share a common laundry downstairs in a partially sheltered area in the alley behind our house. It's a bit of a jerry rig that was installed several years ago by the three owners who needed laundry. It's worked well enough for the past few years so there has never been a movement to change it.

But since early June the laundry has been attracting intruders. Some one or some thing has been sneaking into the back area, washing and drying clothes, and making off with our bottles of Cheer and Tide.

We posted a warning sign. One week later we found the alley door open, a pair of women's sneakers near the washer and cigarette butts in the dryer. This evidence of an escalating invasion mobilized everyone in the building.

The owner of Unit 3 flagged down a passing patrol car. Two nice officers politely informed us that even if they caught the perpetrator red-handed, there would be little they could do. "We'd just write a ticket. The DA," said the cops, "would never hold someone for this."

The cops inspected the area, and suggested that our next door neighbors might be the prime suspects. The building next door is filled with 20-something renters, who try to beat the cost of city living by jamming three or four people into one unit. One cop showed us how easy it would be to climb from the next door landing onto the roof of our laundry shed and drop down to the ground. (Heartening to see there are still cops in the city who can exhibit such athleticism.) They advised us to "beef up on security" and defend ourselves.

Filled with angst and venom, we asked about installing barbed wire or some other kind of malicious barrier.

"Don't," they cautioned, "It's crazy but if someone ends up getting hurt climbing over a fence like that while trespassing on your property they can sue you for their injuries."

After discussing a myriad of possibilities, the next weekend we blocked off the back of the roof with a high trellis and two pots of heavily thorned bougainvillea. To test the success of the barrier, we put out a water-filled Cheer bottle as bait. We're all watching and waiting.

This is just one example of the kind of unforseen event that comes up in a center City group ownership situation.


Post a Comment

<< Home