Sunday, November 21, 2010

Where's Batman When You Need Him?

After several false starts and a major interruption, I have concluded that Yemalla’s Moon is not as ready to evolve as I thought. While sipping coffee and trying to compose a thoughtful introductory missive yesterday, my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number, but something told me that it was worth answering and so I did, only to find out that the library had been broken into sometime during the night. My first thought was: Who commits a B & E on a night as cold as this one? It was -25 over night.

When I arrived at the library I discovered that the thief had executed a rather well planned burglary. The evidence trail told us that the single perpetrator entered through a side window that he had, apparently, left unlocked sometime during the day when the library was open. The staff does check the windows every night, but with the weather being this cold, the windows are not opened during the day and it never occurred to us that the locks would have been tampered with.

Upon entering the library, the thief made his way to the circulation desk where he helped himself to two sets of keys that are kept in a drawer. Finding that none of the keys opened the door to the staff room, he proceeded to chisel the lock out of the door, destroying, in the process, a very expensive door, handle and lock. He then rifled through the storage and filing cabinets before entering my office and finding what he was looking for; the cash drawer, locked and hidden under my desk. Though he had the keys to the cash box, he still managed to break the lock, which he left in pieces inside the dime compartment. He also went through the key cabinet, though it doesn’t appear that he took any keys. We think that he might have been looking for the key to the cash box, not realizing that he had it all along.

Once he cleaned out the cash box, he helped himself to the donation box and the Blue Ray player before leaving out the front emergency exit. He got somewhere between $80 and $100 cash as well as the $250 Blue Ray player. (I’m really looking forward to telling the kids on Friday that there will not be an NID Matinee, because we no longer have a Blue Ray player to show movies on!)

During the break-in, the thief disabled the phones and left me without power in my office. I will now have to pay an electrician to come in and fix that. The District of Houston will have to replace the staff room door and we will have to somehow come up with the money to replace the Blue Ray player. The cash is just gone. We will never be able to make that up, and while it sounds like a very small amount, to us, every single penny counts.

Obviously, this is not the happiest of blogs. I am beyond angry, hurt or saddened by this incident and filled with an overwhelming and nameless emotion that sits like a stone in the pit of my stomach. I keep thinking: Where’s Batman when you need him? And if you find that amusing, I can only assure you that I’m not kidding. We need Batman!

We need someone who is not afraid to deal with these punks and teach them some respect. The legal/justice system certainly isn’t going to – even if the police do manage to catch the little bugger. If he’s a juvenile, he’ll be asked to write a letter of apology to the library that will be printed anonymously in the paper. He’s parents will be forced to make financial restitution. Personally, I would prefer to see him set in stocks for 24 hours in the town square with a sign that says: I am a disrespectful and selfish little brat who broke into the library and stole cash, goods and damaged property. Please throw a rotten tomato at me.

If he’s an adult, he’ll probably get a slap on the wrist and be told to make restitution for the damage to the door and the cost of the electrician, the amount of money stolen and the Blue Ray player, which he will not do, nor will anyone follow up on it and force him to. The only way we would get anything would be to take him to small claims court at a cost of way more than what he owes and we would still probably never see the money. I ask you: Where’s the Justice?

And I tell you: There is none.

I’m not going to rant on about my thoughts beyond this. I know there are some very good people with very good intentions employed in the legal/justice system and I have no desire to disparage or besmirch them. It is the system that incenses me and the way it fails both the criminal and the victim in so many ways, in so many cases. And I’m not holding out much hope for justice – for the library or for the thief – in this case either.

I concede that crime is as old as the hills and is one of those flip sides so necessary to balance in the world. There are no less than 49 synonyms for the word crime and only two antonyms. ( That doesn’t sound very balanced to me. And yet, if we look at the antonyms - Good deed & Kindness - they both exude a powerful energy far greater than any of the withering synonyms. It takes 49 negatives to equal two positives. (That’s interesting!)

A few months ago, a young patron at the library set some paper towel on fire in the men’s washroom. Luckily, he had second thoughts and put the fire out before any damage was done. He was caught and, due to his personal circumstances, decided not to press charges. We asked only that he come forward himself and apologize to me and the staff member that was working at the time of the incident. Until then, we said, he was banned from the library. It was not my intention to keep this normally gentle, albeit troubled, young man from using the library forever. On the contrary, we only wanted him to own up to his deed and accept responsibility for his actions. He has not yet come forward. Nor has he returned to the library. This, I think, is very sad. I wonder sometimes if he understood what we were asking of him. His was a case of a bad decision that could have had very bad consequences, but, thankfully, did not.

This time, though, it is a different matter. It was a very bad decision that did have some very bad consequences, some of which are yet to reveal themselves. The staff, for instance... Who’s going to feel safe working there now? I’m dreading going in to work tomorrow by myself. What about the patrons? Are we going to be suspicious of certain people now? Are we going to treat them differently? It’s not unlikely.

As with all things, both good and bad, life goes on. I now must bake pies and do some shopping for a celebration tonight. Funny how life works, isn’t it?


  1. Oh, sis - so sad - you really do have to wonder why there's so much sadness (crime and illness and abuse) in a world that is so beautiful with so many very nice people in it. What an awful thing for somebody to do to people and a service that are only there to make life better for others. I really feel for you, and for your staff. Blessings, P

  2. Thank, Peg. It was quite a blow.


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