That'll Teach 'Em

More evidence the British police forces seem to be losing their minds at least as fast as American police:

To teach motorists who leave their cars unlocked a lesson, police in Richmond upon Thames, a borough of London, have begun taking their stuff. The victims beneficiaries of these thefts educational efforts return to their cars and find that expensive items such as cameras, laptops, and leather jackets have been replaced by notes instructing them to retrieve their valuables at the police station. Not to worry, though: "If items are needed urgently," the London Times reports, "police will return the goods immediately." Which suggests that if you can't show an urgent need for, say, your computer, they'll take their own sweet time. The justification offered by Superintendent Jim Davis: "People would be far more upset if their property really was stolen."

Woe be to people who actually trust that the police are doing their job reducing crime and fail to secure all of their belongings from petty theft.   One hopes that the police of Richmond on Thames never start to percieve a problem with rapes in their fair city.


  1. Jens Fiederer:

    You know, that one is actually not such a bad idea. Keep in mind that if the police LEAVE the expensive items in the car, the next person who opens the car might NOT be so kind as to leave a note telling them how to get it back.

    So if the option is between keeping an officer tied up guarding the unlocked car and taking the tempting goodies away to safety, perhaps they are making the right choice.

    I could make a parallel for the rape case as well, but I'm not sure everybody would find it amusing.

  2. Ray K.:

    Maybe those aren't the only two options.

  3. Eric Hammer:

    I wonder how long it will take for the first incident of a cop taking an item and neglecting to leave a note to crop up.

    Dishonest police? NEVER!

  4. morganovich:

    or the first criminal pretending to be a cop and leaving a bogus note as camouflage...

  5. CT_Yankee:

    Naturally, if a good citizen sees that a police car is unlocked or has the windows down, they will return the favor and "teach the police a lesson".

    Surely there will never be an issue and litigation because of a dispute over how much property was taken, and in what condition, with what accessories, and what was returned.

    If the police do take someone's GPS, and they get lost in a bad neighborhood trying to find the station to get thier stuff back, will the police be considered accessories to the resulting rape/robbery or murder? Sometimes, just being the wrong ethnicity in the wrong neighborhood is a bad combination.

  6. Chris:

    How about the police just lock the door... May be a problem if power windows are down... But if it's just an unlocked car, lock the door and move on.

  7. Jens Fiederer:

    The option of just walking away and leaving well enough alone isn't very attractive either - if something gets stolen just minutes after you've left. In this case, there AREN'T any great options.

    Personally, I usually leave my door unlocked (and nothing obviously valuable in view) because I've had a thief do $3000 worth of damage to pilfer a $70 item, and I'd rather lose the item.

  8. Dr. T:

    Does anyone care to bet on how long it takes before the items removed from the car also get removed from the police station? If British cops are as honest as American cops, it's probably happened already.

  9. Matt:

    How long before they start checking for unlocked house doors and helping themselves to the contents?

  10. Not Sure:

    "The option of just walking away and leaving well enough alone isn’t very attractive either..."

    When the police make a traffic stop, they don't seem to encounter any difficulty in running the license plate of the stopped vehicle. What would keep them from doing the same thing here and having someone at the station give the registered owner a phone call?

    You know- as a service to the public who pays their salaries?

  11. nom de guerre:

    thanks for the chuckle, not sure. the idea that *they* work for *us*......too rich!

  12. spiro:

    As an American with very superficial understanding of how the Brits view civil rights, I find this new effort by their police to be really invasive and creepy.
    Sure, I can see that it's easy enough to remember to roll up your windows and lock the car door to avoid any problems. But how can police officers open up your car, rummage through your stuff, and SEIZE your belongings without probable cause or a warrant? Do the Brits have any laws regulating search and seizure of private property?
    Anybody from the UK to explain this for me?

    We Americans may be a bunch of gun-totin' jingoistic cowboys, but maybe that's what it takes to keep the govt from taking away all your personal rights. I have no problem with my neighbor's arsenal, nor his practice of flying his flag on every possible holiday. He never demands my money, and he never intrudes on my lifestyle or freedoms. It's the "beneficent" bureaucrats that do that.

    And, how long before some group like the RIAA or Microsoft starts contracting these cops out to check people's laptops for pirated software or media?

  13. Reformed Republican:

    Keeping the cops out of one's car is a good incentive for locking it.

  14. feeblemind:

    There must be too many cops on the payroll if they have time to check for unlocked cars. Then again it may just be that they prefer to push people around who won't push back.

  15. marco29:

    How about after the cops take the expensive items from unlocked cars, they check the items out for drug residue using some of the same flawless drug test kits we have in the US? Then the cops can seize the items as "drug profits", sell them, and keep the money. I'm surprised someone here in the colonies hasn't thought of that.

  16. Dan:

    When I was 14 and on a "teen tour" of Israel, I once put my camera down at a museum and came back to find it not there. An hour or two later, another kid in my group gave it to me. He said he'd taken it to teach me a lesson about not leaving my things in places where they could get stolen. Needless to say, I was not amused.

    I thought that was typical obnoxious 14-year old behavior. It's sad to see the police adopting it.

  17. spiro:

    After thinking about this for another day, I have a slightly different take. Could it be that the residents of the UK have completely given in to the idea of a Nanny State? Or ae they just taking it to its literal conclusion?

    Because this sort of authority figures "teaching you a lesson" could have come directly off an episode of "Supernanny".
    "Kids, if you keep leaving your toys out on the lawn, then I'm going to put them in the rubbish bin to teach you a lesson."

  18. Ray K.:

    “The option of just walking away and leaving well enough alone isn’t very attractive either…”

    Sez you. I think leaving other people's stuff be is the only real option in this case. Anyone else on your list of "the right people" that can decide otherwise and automatically be granted the benefit of the doubt as to their good intentions?

  19. Elliot:

    It's about time the police enlist the support of the People (fanfare) to assist with the lesson teaching..of. Let the police take things from unlocked cars and put them into Other unlocked cars with a note telling them where it came from. That should learn 'em good.

    Really, just leaving a note in an unlocked car would be enough to get people locking up. And this would not require other police to look after the loot, er, stuff.

    I'd love to see a tape of a cop doing all this, and walking away from a car with an armload of goods. Boy, that takes me back. They have cameras all over London now so we should look for it on utube.


  20. Not Sure:

    When I was a kid, I was taught by my parents "If it's not yours, leave it alone."

    As a general, all-purpose rule for living your life, I think it's pretty robust.

  21. Jens Fiederer:

    > Anyone else on your list of “the right people” that can decide otherwise and
    > automatically be granted the benefit of the doubt as to their good intentions?

    Well, I'm rather fond of the idea of the police's official actions being recorded, so the benefit of the doubt wouldn't be granted "automatically". Property removed without being appropriately recorded would still be theft. I give the police the benefit of the doubt when their actions have been captured for posterity, preferably by a neutral third party. When they take actions to prevent that from happening, I assume the worst.