It all began with a major theft. One that would kick-start an unprecedented crime wave across the Isle of Oxney and trigger an emergency meeting. Yes, someone stole a padlock.
It wasn’t just any old padlock, obviously. It was the one that secured the gate leading into Coronation Field and as such was the gold standard of padlocks. OK, I’m lying, it wasn’t special at all but I’m trying to build feverish interest in the subsequent hastily arranged Parish Council meeting that could authorise the purchase of a replacement.
Councillor A: How did someone manage to steal the padlock?
Councillor B: Village caretaker was mowing the field, left it unlocked on the gate.
Councillor A: Where was the key then?
Councillor B: In his pocket.
Councillor A: So let me get this straight. Someone stole the padlock but they haven’t got the key for it?
Councillor B: About the size of it, yes.
Councillor A: Good grief, what calibre thief do we have on this island?
So the bar wasn’t set particularly high and from there the calibre of thefts just got lower.
Next up, or down for the pedants among you, was a spot of vehicle-napping. A local builder managed to blow up his truck’s engine. To be fair, he’d had practice as his previous truck suffered a similar fate but he still didn’t learn that checking the oil occasionally might be a good thing. Abandoning his latest disaster in the corner of his yard, he bought a replacement truck, same make but a much later model.
One night, an enterprising ne’er-do-well discovered that the key left in the ignition of the abandoned truck could be used to start its modern equivalent. Having done this, he presumably congratulated himself on remembering not to turn on the headlights so as not to raise the alarm. Then he drove off into the night, at full speed, straight into a tree trunk. He extricated himself and legged it up the lane but, when the police arrested him some time later, the combined efforts of his little grey cells couldn’t adequately explain why his DNA was on the truck key.
This little episode was followed by a daring raid on a country manor. Well, I say daring, the truth is that three men in a stolen land rover tried to break into a local bigwig’s house and discovered they couldn’t outwit the security system. Undeterred, they bravely extricated three bronze life-size sculptures of naked women wearing rabbit head masks (I wish I could say I’m joking but unfortunately I’m not) from the front garden and loaded them somewhat haphazardly into the land rover. On making their escape up a single track lane, they were forced to swerve to avoid an oncoming vehicle and two of the sculptures fell into a ditch. The intrepid offenders were last seen staggering away clutching between them a 16 stone, naked rabbit woman.
Then came a raid that was a success but for all the wrong reasons. A local resident, discomfited by these reported crimes and knowing that his garden shed was more fragile than a pop up tent in a gale-force wind, decided to keep watch for a few nights. After two days he lost the fight with his eyelids and fell into a deep sleep and awoke the next morning in a blind panic. But he needn’t have worried. When he checked, he found all of his garden power tools still neatly laid out on his workbench. The only problem was, someone had nicked his shed.
Is that a sign the calibre bar is on the rise? Maybe, but I’m in two minds. I’ve just found out someone broke into my shed last night and stole the lawn mower. And the padlock. Here we go again.