A Crimeless Victim

We've all heard of the concept of a "victimless crime," but probably not a "crimeless victim." I humbly submit our back yard fence as an example.

Early yesterday evening as I was walking through my dining room, my attention was drawn to the back yard, where I heard some commotion through the open window. I saw a young man running at top speed through the yard, chased by an older man who was yelling, "Get the hell out of my neighborhood! Don't ever let me catch you in my neighborhood again!"

Frankly, I didn't recognize the older man, so I have no idea if he lives on my street or if he had been chasing the kid for many blocks, or if perhaps he was an escapee from the local mental hospital (and therefore had no right to be speaking on behalf of the neighborhood). But I had a high-speed foot chase to watch, so I didn't ask questions.

Now, anyone who's ever visited my house knows that you can't run very far in the yard without running into a fence. It runs perpendicular to the side of the house and separates the front yard from the back. Squirrels run under it or through the slats, deer jump over it, we walk through the little gate that has a very tricky childproof (and sometimes adultproof) latch. Everyone obeys the natural order of the fence.

Except for this fleeing kid. No sooner does the old guy shout, "If I ever see you back here, so help me...," than the running boy takes leap over the fence, catching his shoe on it and ripping off two of the pickets as he falls to the ground with an agonized scream. In the next instant he got up and kept on running, leaving the old guy shaking his head in disgust at a chase narrowly lost. (Stupid childproof latch!)

Because the previous owners of my house affixed a Neighborhood Watch sticker to our kitchen window and I'm too lazy to peel it off, I figured I'd do my part and ask the old guy what was going on.

I leaned out the back door and cautiosly called out, "Hello? Sir? Is everything OK?" Keep in mind, I watch my fair share of crime thrillers so I know that not everything is as it seems, and we *do* have that mental hospital nearby, so I was making no assumptions as to anyone's innocence, guilt, or mental status.

Turns out the man caught the kid trying to steal stuff from his garage. "It's okay," he said. "I caught him before he could take anything." The man thanked me for my concern and headed back to what I must assume is his home.

So no crime was committed. Yet there lay the ruins of my fence. Like I said, a crimeless victim.


Anonymous said...

Tilney & Ryan
We enjoyed your true crime report. It was reminiscent of the shoot-out at OK Corral because of collateral damage to the fence. The events were exciting and wreaked of crime.

Just because an Old Guy yells, "It's all right, he didn't get anything," doesn't mean that no crime was committed. Life isn't that simple.

The Punk, as I understand your story, sounds a likely suspect for ATTEMPTED breaking and entering and ATTEMPTED larceny, at least. Just as with attempted murder, attempted rape, attempted arson, and such, these attempts are solid gold crimes in the eyes of society and help to fill our prisons.

You can be a success as a criminal even when you fail. Isn't that what democracy is all about?

Reverend Al

Anonymous said...

Dear crime Commentator,

Here's an item I found in the Tribune that I think needs your analysis. It's the entire text on the incident:
"Ohio. Police say a woman, 89, faces a petty theft charge because neighborhood children say she won't give back their football."

Reverend Al