The time I was woken by a police dog.

When I was 20 I lived by myself in squat in Dunedin. The squat was a partially burned out house, which I’d crawl into through a hole in the wall.

One night I woke with police German Shepherd on top of me.

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The dog was gentle, I in no way felt menaced by it; it was just as if a friendly dog was waking you up by climbing on you.

However, at the time, I was a cannabis dealer, and I did had about 1/2 pound of cannabis beside me. Not knowing whether the dog was trained to smell drugs, I quickly got up to meet the dog’s handler.

A policeman was beginning to climb through the hole, and instead I met him outside.

He explained that they were looking for someone else. He said I could stay there for now, but that they’d be informing the owner that I was there, then him and the dog left.

A couple of months later I awoke to the owner and worker arriving. The owner promptly informed me ‘your tenancy is over!’, in good nature. They boarded up the hole and I found a different place to stay.

 

 

 

 

The time I woke up surrounded by cows

When I was about eighteen, and living in the South Island, for some reason I’d hitch hiked to Takaka, at the top of the South Island.

It my first time there. People told me that there’s a bridge just outside of town, that was a good camp spot.

But the thing is, turns out there’s a bridge on either end of town. I hadn’t gone through the other end of town, so I didn’t know about that one, so I assumed it was the one that I’d gone over when I first came in.

So I go back to that tent, and there’s a paddock. The weather’s fine and it’s summer, so I just sleep out under the stars.

That night I had a dream that a cow bit me.

I wake up in the morning, and open my eyes, and there’s all these cows standing around me staring at me.

I’d slept in a cow paddock.

It looked a bit like this:

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The stolen bike sting operation.

Background

I’d recently found a new a job, and I’d moved out of the flat I’d been head tenant of, and moved into long term budget accommodation, a your-own-room-but-shared-facilities deal.

The accommodation is shared with some odd characters, but I was pleasantly surprised that kitchen was tidy, and for the most part it was quiet; it was better than I’d anticipated.

Between jobs, I had one week holiday, which I spent relaxing with my family.

The Heist

I came back with a few days spare to sort things out before starting the new job, buying clothes etc.

When I went to get my bike to start a shopping mission – the bike was gone.

I text my landlord to ask if he’d perhaps moved it or knew what happened to it, but his phone was off.

I figured it had probably been stolen, and I got on with my day, including visiting the police station to file a report.

The Investigation

I started looking on the Facebook buy/sell groups – knowing that they’re a common place for dodgy activity, including fencing stolen goods.

At 6:30pm, I was on my way home, when my request to join one of the groups was approved – and there it was – my bike is a distinct orange – and here was a seller selling an orange bike of the same make.

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I added a comment indicated I was interested in buying the bike. I also wanted him to post pictures, so I could confirm it was my bike.

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Here’s the photo that he referenced:

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He’s posted a stock store¬†photo taken from the internet. Apparently he doesn’t have camera. This is suspicious – who doesn’t have a camera these days?

(The blanked out profile is a third, uninvolved person).

Also – lets note the seller’s profile – it’s pretty empty – no profile picture, no activity.

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I private message him to arrange purchase of the bike.

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We arrange to meet at 9:30pm, outside a shop in the middle of town. This suits me, as it’s close the central police station – and it isn’t too isolated. The meet is to take place in two hours.

I contact the police at the police station – explain what’s happening and they ask me to come into the police station with my phone to show them the conversation.

The Plan

I catch the bus in, this takes about thirty minutes.

At the police station, we go over what’s happened again. The woman cop I’m talking to explains that they need to first be sure that I own the bike, and this bike is infact mine.

She takes photos of the conversations and Facebook threads.

She asks if I have any photos of the bike. As it is – the only photo of the bike I’ve taken is this one from my instagram – when I’d broken it.

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A post shared by Messes I make. (@messes.i.make) on

I look through my Facebook photos, perhaps I took a photo when I bought the bike, but there’s none there.

I do find emails in my email account from the Trade Me transaction buying the bike, and a couple of service jobs.

The cop seems satisfied that I do own an orange Avanti bike.

At this point, it’s about 9:30, the time I’m meant to be meeting this guy.

The cop tells me to go meet the guy, they’ll park around the corner, and I’m to text them to confirm it’s mine.

I message the guy to say I’m running late, and I’m bit nervous that he’s going to be spooked and leave before I meet him.

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As I walk to the meeting place, about ten minutes away, I think about how I’m going to lead him to the police. What if he’s parked around the corner in a dodgy car park? What if he insists on me handing over cash before I see the bike? My plan is tell him I need to go to an ATM for cash, and lead him to the police that way – but that’s not going to work if he’s insisting on cash up front.

The Sting

I get there, and two guys are sitting in a car and they signal me.

The guy in the passenger seat gets out. It’s a small, young guy, who seems a little familiar, I might have met him before at the accommodation I live at. My fears that I might be beaten up by some hard gangsters are alleviated.

He opens the boot, and sure enough, it’s my bike.

I tell him, ‘I just gotta text my friend’, and text the cop that it’s my bike.

We get it out, and I examine. I ask to ride the bike for a bit, and he’s a little nervous that I’m going to ride off with it, but lets me.

I ride the bike for a bit, and express excitement about getting a sweet bike.

I tell him that I gotta get money from an ATM, and does he want to walk with me there.

I pause to text the cop the license plate of the car. I’m worried that it looks suspicious, especially as I have to turn to look at the number plate twice. And is he looking at my phone to see what I’m texting?

Evidently not – he walks with me, me walking the bike toward the ATM.

I don’t even see the cops until they’re right in front us, and they want to chat to him about the sale of this bike.

He quickly confesses to them – that he used to live at the accommodation it was stolen from, (without any prompting from the cops about where it was stolen from), that it was his friend who cut the chain with bolt cutters and loaded in to this guy’s car.

After a bit, the cops ask me if I want to make a complaint (I do) and tell me to walk the bike back to police station, where I make a statement.

When the statement is complete, I ride the bike, without helmet or lights or a lock (they’re missing) back home – I have my bike back. At this time it’s about 11pm, about four and a half hours after first seeing the Facebook post.

Aftermath

I’ll write a separate aftermath post later as more details come out.

When I was at the station – the police asked me if instead of sending him formally through the court system – I was ok with an alternative community justice/mediation. I said yes – as I am of the belief that the formal criminal justice system isn’t particularly effective at rehabilitation – which also seemed to be the sentiment of the police.

But also – I do get a kind of jaded feeling with this experience- where it feels like the police aren’t that interested in comprehensively following up crimes. This is a post for another time.

The police didn’t catch up with the guy who remained in the car that night.

The guy was likely a guy who’d been kicked out of the accommodation,¬†a couple of weeks earlier for breaking a window.

I received an email today from the police saying that there wasn’t enough evidence to proceed with the case – but I’m wondering if that’s a form letter to do with the initial theft report – and not arrest that was made – we’ll see what happens in the coming weeks.

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Lessons Learned

  • It is possible to get your items back if you act quickly. This guy clearly wanted to make a quick sale – and had I dawdled about it – a sale would have been made to someone else the item would have been gone.
  • In New Zealand you can contact *555 to reach a police operator – even for non-traffic items.
  • Even without police support – it would have been possible to get the item back. In this case I could have just ridden off with it and I doubt they could have or would have done anything about it. It’s up to you to assess whether that would be a safe option.
  • Don’t delete your emails. A week early, as part of ‘being organised’ I emptied my inbox – sent a lot of emails to the trash – including the Trade Me and bike servicing receipts. Luckily the trash hadn’t been cleared – and the emails were recoverable – because they served to be important in proving that the bike was mine.

The time I had to kick people out of my house.

I thought I’d share this.

I was just out at a bar, where there’s pinball machines I play. I met some people there, an Irish girl, a Canadian guy, and kiwi girl, about my age (30yo).

The bar was winding down, and we were all walking home. My house is on the way, and so I invited them them up, to also grab my FIRE STAFF, which I’m really really good at.

So we go to my house, and we have some drinks and smoke and stuff and then I’m like, hey, I want to go play my firestaff and can you record me doing it?

And they’re like, NAH MAN, I DON’T THINK YOU SHOULD DO IT. It’s windy out there.

To be fair, it is pretty windy out there. – This comes in later in the story.

And I’m like WELL I’M GOING TO DO IT ANYWAY. And I grab the stuff I need, (including their lighter, which I needed to light it), and start walking outside to do it.

But then I’m like, well, these guys can’t stay in my house, so you guys have to get out, and we’ll close the door behind us.

And they’re like, alright, we’re leaving, and I’m like well but you should watch me do this, I’m really good at it. I’m also like DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT YOU HAVE INSULTED ME? I was acting pretty crazy I guess.

I am really good at it. I learned fire staff about ten years ago, fire staff is like riding a bike, you just don’t really forget it.

So¬†they’re like ‘we’re not sticking around’ and ¬†are walking off.¬†It’s really windy, and the staff is hard to light. I do get it to light, and I have play and it goes really well. I do throws and everything. I didn’t drop it once? I don’t¬†remember.

My flatmates saw it, and then it ended and the fire went out, and my flatmates were there and I ranted to them about it.

This is were it get’s it gets kinda interesting.

I gave them my business card for my Facebook page Humans of Newtown.  I have ~1600 followers there, and I could have a big rant about it.

They’re still really interesting, photogenic people! Especially the Irish girl, who purports that the dots on her cheeks are tattooed on.

I can see how a situation can kind of escalate, especially in the presence of like alcohol and stuff.

But like, I’m clearly in the right here. It was ridiculous of them to say, ‘no you shouldn’t do that’, and politeness would dictate, that if you host wants to put a show on for you, then you would politely watch.

I get that fire can scare people too, but this guy said he’s worked in security, surely he would feel capable of intervening the case that I did actually start catching things on fire.

I get also that I kinda was acting crazy. Possibly I could have talked to the people more and explained the situation before going to grabbing my stuff. They weren’t going to talk me out of it, and the situation was never unsafe. , but the guy was being pretty adamant about him not approving of it. I asked twice for him to film it, and he was like ‘No I’m not going to film it’, and he didn’t have any other objection than that he didn’t want me to play with the staff.

Anyway – I’m thinking about ranting about on Humans of Newtown . What do you think, good idea? I’m definitely going to share this on my personal facebook page.

[Meta note:¬†I originally wrote this piece about 30 minutes after this event happened.¬†I posted it to an ADHD group I belong to. I was considering posting something to a Facebook page I run called ‘Humans of Newtown’. There are a few edits I’ve since added.].