10 October 2007

Witnessing a break-in

Last night I had a tricky decision to make. I left my apartment to catch the lift upstairs to lend some clothes to a friend. While waiting for the lift to come, I looked out the window noticed something strange going on down on the street.

Three young people, a girl and two boys, ran along the street and stopped next to a car. "There's heaps of cars here", the girl said. One of the boys looked out while the other two crouched down next to the car and used tools to break in to the car. It was a similar situation to what I saw when I came across two older men breaking into my car a few months ago.

I heard one of them say, "There's someone up there". He was probably talking about me, I thought, so I backed away from the window and pulled out my mobile to call the police.

Then I stopped. What would it achieve to call the police? The kids would definitely be gone by the time the police got there. I wouldn't be able to identify them in any confident way because our street isn't lit. All that would happen is that I'd have a conversation with a policeman about a crime I didn't really see very well, unable to identify the perpetrators.

So I put my phone away and took the lift upstairs to drop off the clothes. The crew outside continued their work as I entered the lift. By the time I came back down, only a few minutes later, the group had disappeared.

I'm still not sure whether I did the right thing. Am I too cynical of the police response? Some might argue that deciding whether a crime is worth pursuing is someone else's decision, not mine.