In the Media

Burgled again – is it really so difficult to catch a thief?

PUBLISHED November 15, 2012

I had just got off a plane from Florida, which has one of the highest violent crime rates in the United States, when I discovered that I had been robbed for the fifth time in six years back home. I did wonder why my boyfriend had turned up at the airport so early in the morning to greet me, but brimful with the affectionate attitude of America I decided to ditch my cynicism and put his appearance down to love.

It wasn't until we had passed Heston Services on the M4 that he told me about the "little incident" that had occurred while I was away - namely, a bunch of hoodlums somehow breaking through a triple-locked door at the side of the house, taking my iPad and all of my jewellery too. It had happened at half past two in the afternoon.

I cried for a bit, because I couldn't stand that they had stolen my late grandmother's costume jewellery, which is worth nothing to them but everything to me. But I decided to stop and save my tears, because burglary now seems like an inevitability, one that has happened in every flat I have lived in since I was 26 (I am now 32), and despite putting in extra locks, they always get in. Where there is a will, there is a way.

And there is a huge will, born of the fact that the courts seem to favour the criminal rather than the victim. Did you know that half of all burglars who are caught are given lily-livered fines or community service, despite the fact that the average household thief has 12 convictions to their name? I'm amazed that any convictions are handed out in the first place, because the police have never found any of the bottom-feeders who have robbed me.

The bloke who came through the front window while we were in the living room? Who knows where he is! The person who sawed off half of our front door? Living it up in Bora Bora for all I know! The teenager who hit me round the head on the street at 9am and made off with my mobile? Running a crystal meth factory in Paddington, probably.

Afterwards, you get a well-meaning leaflet through the door from Victim Support asking if you need emotional help. No! I just want the police to find the ruffians who broke in to my home. So I laugh when I read that crime has fallen. It seems far likelier that people have stopped reporting it, realising that in many places, calling the constabulary is a formality, a way to get a crime number and please your insurers. I'm not even sure who I am more cross with at the moment. The burglars, or the police? Either way, they both seem pretty criminal to me.

Hurrah for Heathrow

To Heathrow, the world's most moaned about airport. Even its chief executive had a pop this week. Colin Matthews said that it was in a "progressive, relative decline" because it didn't have a third runway. The airport needs to be expanded or replaced, he announced.

And I know it's the done thing to join the Heathrow-haters, but I can't. It is the pyramids when compared to other airports around the world. It has restaurants by Michelin-starred chefs and designer shops and a branch of Jo Malone. Try spending time in any American airport - where you usually get a Pizza Hut, a Duty Free shop the size of a postage stamp and a three-hour queue at immigration - and you will never whinge about our British ones again.

Guide for feminist girls

The Girl Guides, says its new boss, is "the ultimate feminist organisation". Julie Bentley, a campaigner for abortion rights and access to contraception, thinks that her new role is a logical extension of her sexual health work. "Sexual health is covered very well by the Guides and many leaders conduct excellent sessions on the subject," she said, adding that Girl Guiding is "not about itchy brown uniforms". Dyb, dyb, dyb! I think I need a cup of tea and a lie down.