Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Ambulance, Police, Burglar...

So, I had my second encounter with Essex Police yesterday…

Let me start with my mother. She’s 85 has a lymphoma and is undergoing chemo therapy. She lives alone in the stupidly large family home which she can just about manage. The week before last she called me to say she needed to go to the hospital. I shot round to find her suffering from the shakes and a stomach ache, for the former of which she was, apparently, supposed to go straight to hospital since it could be a bad reaction to the chemo. She had phoned for an ambulance and was waiting for a call back from some medical professional. This person did call, asked a long series of questions about her symptoms, then sent the ambulance, which arrived pretty quickly.

The ambulance staff came in, asked the same series of questions while hooking her up to some equipment. By then her shakes were waning and they couldn’t find anything seriously wrong with her (well, besides being 85 and having cancer). However, after a phone call to the Oncology Department they decided to take her in to Broomfield hospital. I followed the ambulance there, stupidly expecting it to take the easy back roads route to the hospital. It didn’t, it instead went right through the middle of Chelmsford during the rush hour. I tried to keep on its tail but with various sets of traffic lights and about five roundabouts to go through I was beginning to lose sight of it. I had also completely forgotten how to get to the hospital via this route and at some point I must have run a red light.

At the hospital I spend about twenty minutes driving around in a two-storey car park searching for a spot to park, then I went into Accident & Emergency where my mother had been taken. There she had an X-ray, blood taken for testing, that list of questions asked again, and frequent checks on her BP etc. The upshot was that a doctor would see her but she could go home. We waited and waited for a doctor but none came, so in the end just checked out and later.

Promptly, a few days after, I got my traffic violation letter from Essex Police. I filled in the form and wrote a covering letter explaining the circumstances. I didn’t expect any leniency.

Maybe a day after this the same thing happened again with my mother: bad shakes, inability to sleep or keep still. I suspected something related to her depression (yeah, she has that too). Sometimes, if you get a bad panic attack it can feel like you’re dying. Phone calls ensued but I baulked at the idea of calling an ambulance again, especially as the shakes were waning again, and in the end took her to the emergency doctor. This quite sharp Asian lady examined her and checked over her reams of prescription sheets.

Apparently she had been prescribed another lot of anti-depressants because the chemo had dragged her down. Now, either the doctor concerned neglected to notice she was already on one lot of pills, neglected to tell her to stop taking them, or my mother failed to take in that she should stop taking the first lot. ‘You don’t take these together,’ said the Asian lady, looking puzzled and slightly alarmed. She told my mother to stop taking the second lot and prescribed diazepam for the shakes and instructed her to see her doctor. This she did and the upshot is that her problems were caused by mixing the anti-depressants.

I next got a phone call from the Essex Police and spoke to someone who wasn’t officious and was quite pleasant. After she got some detail from me she told me they were dropping the charges against me. I subsequently received a letter telling me this along with the line ‘not in the public interest to prosecute’. Well I guess that’s right. The last time I was ever told off by the police for a driving offence was when I was 18 and wasn’t displaying my L-plates correctly. So that was my first encounter with the Essex Police…

On diazepam every day my mother improved enough to go on an outing she had booked some time ago to Thursford. She went this Sunday with a friend, stayed overnight and came back on Monday evening. Shortly after her return I got a phone call. Her house had been broken into. I told her to call the police and then Caroline and I went round. Someone had smashed a back patio door then opened it with the key. This person had rifled through some cupboards and drawers, opened her jewellery box, but beyond the smashed door made surprisingly little mess. He’d (I’m guessing it was a ‘he’) found about £150 she’d kept in a drawer but otherwise seemed to have taken nothing else. I guess he was quite disappointed by the lack of laptops, mobile phones, family silver and by the costume jewellery.

A cop turned up quite rapidly from South Woodham Ferrers and checked out everything. Shortly after he arrived a fingerprint lady turned up (SOCO?) but could find nothing but glove smudges. After she had finished I boarded up and secured the broken door while the cop sat with my mother taking down details and telling her what would happen. Let me add here: pleasant big reassuring bloke and exactly the kind of guy you want turning up. And that, then, was my second encounter with the Essex Police.

Surprisingly, and perhaps sadly, though my reaction to this was, ‘Bastards!’ I didn’t feel hugely irate. This is because a break-in like this is almost a fulfilment of expectation. There are loads of shits out there with no respect for other people’s property. But really I should be very very angry. Back when I used to cut grass and hedges etc. for a living an old lady who was a customer of mine found a burglar in her bedroom. He didn’t harm her then and just fled. However, she died just a few months later and the opinion of her neighbours was that the incident just sapped her will – effectively killed her.

Today’s jobs: sort out a glazier and take a look at some burglar alarms on the internet.

Note: If you go out take the keys out of the inside of your double glazed doors. This won’t stop anyone smashing the glass and getting in, but the burglar will have to knock all the glass out of the door and go through it, increasing the likelihood of him being cut and dripping some blood somewhere. The police like blood.        


Alberon said...

Sorry to hear of your mother's problems. I hope the break in doesn't unsettle her too much.

My house was burgled once over a decade ago. I found that unnerving enough and I was only thirty at that point. The drug addict only got a DVD player and a moneybox (full of just 1p and 2p coins unluckily for him). Also unlucky for him, he did cut himself breaking in and they did catch him.

You can never stop someone who wants to get in, but make it hard enough and firstly they might not try, and secondly they are more likely to leave evidence behind.

Phil M said...

Glad to hear you Mum got sorted out and is more settled, I've been there before with ageing parents and it's very stressful for all parties.
We've also been burgled, the twat cut himself when he broke the window so he got lifted not long after that as he was already know to Police.
I did look at a DIY alarm but went for a local company to install instead, it might not be as expensive as you may think. You can even put a false box outside it's enough deter most scumbags.

Bob Lock said...

Sorry to hear that, Neal, especially about your Mum. Yep, fit a good burglar alarm it will be a deterrent and a comfort. My mother is about the same age and is prone to leaving her front-door open during the summer. Her excuse? I have nothing worth stealing. Yep, but the drugged-out-of-his-mind-yob doesn't know that. Mothers eh?

robann said...

Hope your mother feels better and recovers from this soon. As a policeman said to me recently (after my neighbours bikes were stolen) "We *will* catch these guys eventually but not necessarily for this specific crime."

My take-away from this is that public services in the UK can work very well if you are lucky enough to get the right people at the right time. These people deserve good pay and pensions. Unfortunately there is also an overhead of people who should be fired but just aren't/can't/won't.

Duracell said...

Hi Neal,

So sorry to hear about your mother’s ordeals.

There has been a, perhaps inevitable (how else are the former bankers and property developers going to finance their cocaine habits in these recessionary times?), rise in this type of crime here in Ireland as well. Criminals are targeting the elderly in particular. They find out who lives alone, they monitor their movements, and they strike as soon as an opportunity presents itself. In this country it seems to be a nationwide epidemic affecting both urban and rural areas, and both affluent and less well-off addresses.

My own parents are both quite elderly and, following a spate of recent burglaries in their locality, I have been trying to gently change their behaviour without unduly frightening them. The biggest struggle that I have had so far was when trying to convince them to keep their doors and windows locked while they were in the house themselves, but eventually I managed to convince them of the merits of this course of action, and I have also coaxed them into keeping only minimal amounts of cash in the house, keeping the keys out of locks etc.

I would recommend that you consider a well-signposted monitored alarm with CCTV cameras rather than a DIY effort. Most of the scum carrying out these crimes are “path of least resistance” types that will probably preferentially target houses with no alarms first, but that will also strike houses with un-monitored alarms if they believe there is a large enough payback to reward the risk, and ironically enough the presence of an un-monitored alarm can lead them to speculate that there may be something worth stealing on the premises. However, the combination of a real-time monitored alarm and CCTV cameras would probably be sufficient to put off all but the most determined and foolhardy of thieves, and then it will be the speed and quality of the response to the alarm that you will be depending on.

Also, if you can manage to do 90% of what-their-jobs-should-be for them (by providing them with clear footage of the criminals and their vehicles), the police can be quite accommodating when it comes to doing what-unfortunately-has-become-90%-of-their-jobs-in-reality: pushing through the necessary paperwork to convict the fuckers that carry out these despicable attacks on vulnerable people!

Anyway, hope your Mum is not too badly shaken-up by the whole nightmare.


Northern Fop said...

"The police like blood"

If it's leaking in large quantities from a scumbag burglar, so do I.

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

wow. nice cops, who knew?

Neil said...

The world is full of complete and utter cocks.

Thud said...

Sorry to hear about your mother. I hope you have a good Christmas with her.

Cameron VSJ said...


I have a quick question about your blog, would you mind emailing me when you get a chance?