Blokes with Backpacks

Now that many of us are staying home to limit the spread of COVID-19 we have more time to be aware of the comings and goings in our neighbourhoods. In fact, because so few people are out and about, the people who do walk or cycle by our houses are more apparent than they would normally be.

In my area, we had become used to occasionally seeing young people, usually males, delivering drugs for local dealers. It is a part of gang behaviour and is a way for the bad guys to recruit teenagers into their illegal activities. Before the Coronavirus lockdown, we would see them in the streets and alleys quite often, but they never presented a problem to us personally.

Recently, however, we have become more aware of a different problem. We often see young men in their twenties and thirties walking or cycling in the back alleys, and usually wearing a backpack. During the day, they seem to be checking things out with a view to stealing at night. At least, that is the impression I get and so do some people who chat about this on the NextDoor app.

Often the lurkers are looking for bikes and/or unlocked sheds. There is an ongoing small industry run by people who take stolen bikes, break them down into their parts and then reassemble them so that they are unrecognizable. These are then sold online or at pawn shops. The thieves also target power tools which are resold in a similar fashion. Most people don’t keep track of the serial numbers on their bikes or tools, so they are almost impossible to find once they have been stolen.

Our house has a video security system that sends me a notification when someone is loitering on our property and it records when they linger for more than a couple of seconds. As a consequence, I have seen lots more of these characters than I would have without the cameras. So, security is a mixed blessing. I now know more than I would like to know, but the camera’s whistle has deterred several people who have wandered too close to home.

Once, our camera caught one of these blokes looking underneath my neighbour’s car. I suspect he was looking for a catalytic converter but when he became aware of the video security system, he ran off. Another time, when I was out for my daily walk, I found six children’s bikes dumped higgledy-piggledy in an alley. I reported both these incidents to the police but got a polite brush-off. There really wasn’t much they could do about the man who looked under the car, and I didn’t get the serial numbers of the bikes. When I went back to check a couple of days later, the bikes had gone.

In the process of reporting these events, I discovered that the police aren’t equipped to take unsolicited videotapes of suspicious activity. If there has been a crime committed, they might ask for it, but if not, they won’t. So blokes with backpacks on bikes can continue engaging in alley creeping right up until they actually commit a crime. In the meantime, I will continue to keep the recordings of any iffy behaviour that happens near my home, just in case the police ask for it someday.




  1. Yep. The Socioeconomic See-Saw in action, always moving. :/

    Up on the left: High Equality, Fair-wages, High employment opportunity, widespread affordable healthcare & mental-illness rehab, etc. …meanwhile…

    Down on the right: Low crime-rate.

    — Or —

    Down on the left: Poor Equality, Horrible Wage-disparity, Horrible unemployment opportunities, little-to-no affordable healthcare or mental-illness rehab, etc. …meanwhile…

    Up on the right: Very high crime-rate, civil-order and law-enforcement overwhelmed!

    Sometimes socioeconomic mechanics is quite simple, quite blunt. Anne, I do hope things return to (semi-?) normal much sooner than later. ❀️

    • Absolutely right, Professor. While I sympathise with people who are disadvantaged it was a punch to the gut when we had three bikes stolen. That was just before we upped our security. Aside from theft, though, I just feel threatened by strangers creeping about at night. I hope the economy returns to normal as soon as it is safe for everyone to go back to work.

      • Well, I’m no Nobel Prize winning Economist, but having grown up middle, lower-middle class much of my life, then living in THE POOREST state in the Union, Mississippi, for 11+ years and being around every type of person and families EXCEPT for the opulent and well-advantaged, I get it! I really do. Most of my friends are from (should I say it?) my socioeconomic class, some lower. Would I have it any other way? Hell no! And Anne, I won’t go into why not. πŸ˜„

        Nevertheless, just because I understand, sympathize, and empathize with my “class” and those less fortunate than me doesn’t at all mean that White-collar crimes don’t exist. In the U.S. the only difference is that WCC almost always don’t see prison cells, yet their crimes on a money-scale? HAH!!! The 2008-09 Wall Street crash then federal bail-out!? Pffffft! Massive differences.

        It’s why I’m so fond of Hillary Clinton’s quote: It takes a village. But I would add to that… It takes a village, a thriving collaborative village. But not a mega-city made of Taj Mahals and Chartwell Estates while across the river or railroad tracks… tin shacks. Know what I mean? The rich need the lower classes always… if they stand a chance of maintaining their status and lifestyle. It doesn’t work otherwise.

        • But this pandemic has certainly made all this more difficult for everyone! Need to clarify that since I kind of got off track or off the railroad tracks. πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜›

        • We are all experiencing the ever-widening gap between the 1% and everyone else. The gradual loss of the middle class has a myriad of social and economic consequences, not least of which is the loss of a sense of hope for self-improvement. I grew up in a working-class home in the UK at a time when we could see what it looked like to move up socially. We also knew that with education and hard work we could get there, and we did. The same is not true for this generation, and we are all worse off for that.

          • Oh my GOODNESS Anne! You are so right! We are socioeconomic pals then! πŸ˜„And btw, thank you for indulging me here on my vista of sub-topics. You are kind Ma’am. πŸ˜‰

            In my earlier comment I wanted to mention the critical need for quality PUBLIC education, from primary level to under-grad levels, beyond if possible! But I knew I’d get even more long-winded. πŸ˜„ Thank you for mentioning it! And on that topic…

            Yes, quality PUBLIC education further helps the entire “Village” concept. Why? Because it isn’t rocket-science. When the vast majority of your citizens are (very) well-educated, typically they all become significant contributors to most all of society’s welfare. And btw Anne, this HAS been done without “the Church,” not just in the U.S. but especially so in northern Europe’s Nordic or Upper Scandinavian countries—Finland, Denmark, and Iceland are premier examples! Plus, they are NOT socialist or communist countries as so many McCarthian-Americans or radical Right-n-Red Americans falsely accuse. If our Democrats would extensively learn our American history from all viewpoints, that demographic would clearly see that Bernie Sanders is not a Socialist in his politics and maybe Biden isn’t the upcoming Democratic candidate! Grrrrrr, but alas… πŸ™„

            But genuine apologies! I’m wandering off your blog-post’s topic. If I may please be candid Anne, and considering all of my current comments here with you, if bicycles are the only things being wrongly stolen, then I’d say things aren’t too bad by other comparisons. Increased drug trade? Yeah, that’s a whole other ballgame—as long as upper North Americans keep wanting and buying them, cartels and gangs will always seize upon those lucrative opportunities. If those two socioeconomic components exist, sadly the drug trade is here to stay.

            And yet Anne, if we Americans—especially the socioeconomic demographic with a specific skin-color and clear Red politics—were a lot more serious about mental-health/illness, rehab, and long-term treatment programs… upper North Americans struggling would not need illicit drugs (or prescription drugs) to cope and to fuel the well-established drug trade! Hmmmm. How about dem apples? πŸ€”πŸŽπŸπŸŽπŸπŸŽπŸ πŸ˜›

            • You are right that three bicycles are not a huge financial loss. The loss is mostly in the sense of security and trust in our community.

              Canada has legalized marijuana and related products which seems to have limited that source of income for the criminals. I know that many, many, many people became addicted to prescription opiods which has led to addictions to illegal drugs. The pharmaceutical industry has a lot to answer for. But, as bad as the drug trade is here, alcohol seems to be the primary drug of choice among the disadvantaged.

              I try to avoid discussing politics, especially American politics, because it makes me too angry. Also, I have family and friends on all points of the political compass. Having said that, you are right about the misconceptions regarding socialism. I wish I knew how to fix that.

            • Anne, the alarming trend of alcoholism, as you mention, is indeed a rising problem too. And you know what? You might be shocked as to which demographic in the U.S. is suffering from it most AND what demographic has a noticeable, alarming increase of suicides as a result of alcoholism and drug abuse:

              Dr. Sanjay Gupta is a highly respected, acclaimed doctor in medicine. When I watched this documentary I was saying to myself throughout, “DAMN, I feel like he is talking directly about me!” YIKES! 😳πŸ₯Ί

            • Sorry, not trying to be a Debbie-downer here. However, I do always say that it does no one any good if we play ostrich’s head in the sand when confronted with realities. Life is full of both splendor and despair. Period. πŸ˜‰ ❀️

  2. We have the same problems in my neighbourhood too. It’s been steadily increasing over the past 3 years. I didn’t know about the drug couriers though, thanks for that bit of info!
    A neighbour caught one these folks using a drone to fly over yards the other day! She took a photo of him so now we’re all on the watch for the dude. I feel scared to be in my own yard. My own fenced and locked yard. I kind of feel like we’re under attack and every person who walks by the house is met with instant suspicion. It’s not a fun way to live!
    Today I saw a adult male on a BMX riding down the street carrying a freaking dish drainer. Whhhyyyy???? I’m interested in your camera with the whistle. Where does a person get such a thing?

    • A drone! Holy mackerel!

      I know how you feel when you say you feel under attack. I’m trying hard to not be suspicious of everyone but these fellows who roam around at night are definitely not on the up and up.

      I will send you a private message about our security system.

  3. You know Anne, this problem is world wide, you could be talking about my home town, Netherton, here in the UK, our Neighbourhood App is always posting pictures of loitering you men, also I have seen the drug couriers delivering their wares.

    • Sigh. Sad but true. I don’t know what can be done about it. The problem is apparently difficult for the police to deal with. On the NextDoor app my neighbours are discussing patrolling the streets and alleys on Friday and Saturday nights. I have mixed feelings about that.

Please leave a comment.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.