It was a beautiful day and I had left work early to walk into town along the “Old Tram Road” through Avenham Park and into Preston Town Centre where I was going to treat myself to a Hearty Dinner at Weatherspoon’s. My plan had gone awry when a customer rang me on my mobile, I had stopped to talk to him and was leaning against the railings on the bridge looking at the view down the river.
Even though the bridge was quite crowded with people who were also making the most of the first sunny day we had had in months, I could hear some loudmouth swearing at the top of his voice, I turned round to tell him to shut his trap as there were kids about, but I bit my tongue, I knew things weren’t right, there was a gang of them, and the foul-mouthed one was holding a black crash helmet, in the distance I could see 2 yobbos with scarves covering their faces sat on a “New” looking scooter, I suspected they weren’t the rightful owners and my suspicions were confirmed when I saw the lad who had been holding the black full face helmet throw it into the river, I cut my customer off, and dialled 999.
The helmet bobbled about in the fast-flowing river and set off on its journey towards the sea, where it would be lost forever or possibly end up keeping Tom Hanks company on a desert island. The Yobbo had been holding the helmet with his thumb on the outside, he wasn’t wearing gloves, there must be fingerprints on it and I had to get it back!. I tried to look like I was too engrossed in my phone call as I walked towards them, but I couldn’t help eyeballing the lad who’d dispatched the helmet, he had a face that I would never get tired of punching, however, people like to punch my face too, possibly because it’s an open book and it displays exactly what I’m thinking at any given moment, if I don’t like you, I can’t hide it. I had a cutting reply in the chamber ready to fire back, just in case he said “What You Looking At? ” but then I decided that the gang may throw me off the bridge too if I said “probably some Long Term Prisoners new girlfriend” He sneered at me, then spat on the floor, I maintained eye contact and stared him out, determined not to blink first. If I was unable to retrieve the helmet at least I knew where I could get a sample of the disgusting gits DNA.
As I turned the corner to go down the side of the river, my view was obscured by a copse of trees, I temporarily lost sight of the helmet, and my heart sank when I couldn’t see it in the river when I got around the corner, luckily it had gotten stuck in the rocks at the side, but it was where the highest part of the embankment was and there would be no way that I could reach it. I finally got through to the Police and gave the operator instructions as to the thieves whereabouts that even an Italian Lorry Driver could follow, by this time the 2 yobs on the nicked scooter was making a nuisance of themselves by riding down the path on the other side of the river as fast as they could, they were being cheered by the rest of the gang, as pedestrians were forced to jump out of their way.
Having been on the receiving end of more than my fare share of vandalism, thefts and criminal injustice at my place of work, and knowing you have to give Preston Police Emergency service at least 24 hours notice if you want them to attend the scene of a crime, I decided that I couldn’t rely on them so I set off in pursuit of the Yobs myself. I called the Police again, Impressing on the Operator that if they didn’t come soon I would have to stop following the gang or risk getting beaten up, I was just trying to make them hurry, there was no way I would have stopped. There were about 12 of them and even though they didn’t look to have a brain cell between them, I didn’t have any real cover and they couldn’t fail to notice that I had been behind them for a while now, they turned off the path and were heading into the trees, annoyingly I hadn’t managed to get close enough to them to take a decent photograph so they could be identified later, so I tried my best to make a mental note of heights, hair colours, clothing and approximate ages.
I heard an explosion in the distance as the fuel tank of the motorbike ignited and could see smoke billowing up through the trees, they had set fire to the scooter to destroy the evidence. I had previously seen the charred remains of several motorcycles in Avenham Park, the thieves nick them, joyride through the park causing havoc and then torch them (set fire), as this seemed to be this gangs Modus Operandi too, after I had rung the Fire Brigade, I called the police again and told them that if they hurried up they could catch the gang that had probably been responsible for destroying thousands of pounds worth of Motor Bikes in the past and they would be able to close a few unsolved cases.
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The bike was engulfed in flames and there was nothing I could do to extinguish them, It seemed like an age till I heard the Fire Engines sirens, but even though I had told the operator that the fire was on the Penwortham side of the river, they had got it wrong so I ran back to get them and led them across the bridge to show them to the fire. There was nothing left of the bike when the Firemen had tackled the blaze, the Yobs had made themselves scarce and there was still no sign of the Police.
I am not your normal type of guy, and I just happened to have a monocular in my pocket (half a binocular, kind of like a tiny telescope), I had been keeping an eye on the helmet over the other side of the river through it in case it started to move and I had to chase after it, Result, it was still trapped in the rocks! I made my way down the river, estimated its flow, and how fast I would need to run in order to get far enough in front of the helmet to position myself, lay in wait, then scoop it out of the river, then I prepared the spot that I had chosen on the embankment, it was the lowest place I could find where I could touch the water, unfortunately it was also very wet and muddy as at high tide it would have been submerged. In case the helmet went by out of arms length I had I looked around and found the biggest branch I could, if it was further away than I could reach with that, then I had resigned myself to the fact that I was going to be getting wet. One way or another I would be retrieving that helmet!
Armed with a load of smaller branches I went back to set about dislodging the helmet, the second branch thrown at full force hit it, off it went, and so did I, running flat out. I watched as the current took it away from the embankment, I grabbed the branch, lay flat on the floor, and held it out just above the water, the helmet was almost out of reach and I was at full stretch, I wouldn’t be able to hook it so I held the branch out at an angle letting the force of the river drive it down the branch and towards me. I would need to let go of the branch, and make a grab for the helmet, I would get one chance before the current took it away again, I got it but nearly toppled in doing so, I was a bit knackered from my sprint down the river so I rolled over, put the helmet on my chest and tried to get my breath back.
Just then I heard a Lady with an American accent shout “Oh my God, are you all right?” she was talking to me, she had seen me lying on the floor covered in mud, holding a Motor Cycle helmet and had assumed that I had swerved to avoid the bright red Fire Engine that was parked on the path, crashed into the river, and had just dragged my sorry ass out.
She asked if she could help me, or she could telephone someone to come and get me. She was beatifully dressed, very pretty, nice eyes, well spoken, and female, just my type, for reasons best known unto herself my long term girlfriend had just fallen out with me (again), and I briefly considered giving the American girl my number to dial, then answering it when it rang and saying “How you doing?” the chat up line that seems to work so well for Joey off Friends. I thought that would have been a pretty good ice breaker but then I decided against it as she seemed really nice and It would be cruel to inflict a relationship with me on her, when she was only trying to help.It would also take too long to explain what had actually happened, and to convince her that I wasn’t actually an accident prone halfwit, and I had just managed to salvage some vital evidence that would be the undoing of a gang of local motor bike thieves. So I let her get on her way, blissfully unaware of what a close escape she’d had, and at least she would have a great anecdote to tell her mates when she got back to the US. I went to wait for the Police, I waited an hour and a half but they were a “No Show” AGAIN !.
I left the helmet, my name, address and telephone number with the Fire Men, and the next afternoon I got a call from the cops. I wasn’t in the mood to be civil. In my cctv videos of the vandalism that was done at my pitch, you could clearly see people driving past, I didn’t expect people to put themselves in danger and try to apprehend the vandals, but the least they could have done was call the police. Perhaps they too would have been left feeling like they wasted their time like I did. I told the officer in no uncertain terms what I thought and then he made some ludicrous excuse about being sent to the wrong place, then he made the situation worse by telling me they wouldn’t be able to get a finger print off it as it had been in water. I told him that there was a clear thumbprint on it that could be seen with the naked eye, and if their forensics department couldn’t get it, he could send it back to me and I would do it with my I phone, some plastic and a tube of super glue!
Scenes of Crime department usually “Dust” for fingerprints using Aluminium Powder but I had discovered my fingerprint technique by accident when a colleague had been asked by a customer to put new fancy dials on the speedometer in her Mazda MX 5, he used superglue to secure the new dials and reassembled the instrument binnacle, the next day a very unhappy customer brought the car back. Superglue causes a chemical reaction with plastic and produces fumes which stick to the oils left behind by the friction ridges on your fingers when you touch something. She couldn’t see how fast she was going as her speedometer and everything he had touched in the Instrument cluster was just one mass of white fingerprints, It’s a good job he hadn’t been clocking the car (winding the mileage back) because even Preston Police could have caught him.
I assume he gave the forensics department my message and they decided to use my method and had gone out and bought some super glue and a piece of plastic. 8 months later I got another call from the Police saying that they had got the finger prints back off the helmet, they had arrested the suspect, and they asked if I would come down to the station to identify the guy. I readily agreed and the Officer said he would call me back the next day to make the necessary arrangements.
That was about a year ago, and I’m still waiting for his call. I assume that the guy decided to plead guilty, so they didn’t need me after all, and couldn’t be arsed to ring me and let me know.
A simple “Thank You” from the Police or the Owner of the Scooter would have been nice, but seen as I got neither I would just like to say “It’s all in a day’s work for a Car Dealer”
(Delivered in a Sarcastic Tone)