“If I Could Turn Back Time” is my favorite record by Cher and judging by the reaction of the 6000 Sailors serving on the USS Missouri they seemed to really like it too.

Gypsies Tramps And Thieves is another Cher record and was also an equally catchy but every time I hear it I am reminded of the money the aforementioned have cost me over my years in the motor trade.

I have such a downer on them that If I was a sailor on board the USS Missouri and I hadn’t been ashore for 10 years, If Cher came on deck dressed as a scantily clad Gypsy I would take the risk of being keelhauled by my fellow crew members and throw her overboard! 

And so begins part 2 of my Travellers Tales

Yet again I had arrived at work on Monday morning to find a naked mannequin in the corner of the showroom, the rally jacket which had been adorning it had been stolen, the same tactics had been used over and over again by a group of erm “lads,” they would come in and distract the salesman whilst one would make off with the rally jacket from the display in the showroom.

I was the manager and I had been in the showroom on my own one day, it was all I could do to try and be civil to them so It really didn’t bother me if they were upset by my actions,  faced with the choice of going around the corner in the showroom and leaving the mannequin unprotected I had picked it up and carried the rally jacketed mannequin under my arm whilst talking to them, one of them asked me what I was doing and I told him that I was fed up of selling cars and I was training to be a ventriloquist.

I just hoped that Mercedes Benz hadn’t taken to employing Romany Mystery Shoppers as I would have a lot of explaining to do when they dissected that video in the training room,

The jackets retailed at £65.00 and the thefts were costing my department a fortune, all the salesmen were on commission for selling accessories so it was important to have a good display, we couldn’t get rid of it but I had to do something to stop it happening again, I returned from a trip to Halfords with a Bicycle lock big enough to secure the Queen Mary, threading the lock through the arms of the rally jacket and then through the mannequin, I stood back and admired my work, “let’s see you nick that you thieving swines”

When I came in the next Monday morning, both the jacket and the mannequin was gone, either the thief really wanted a new jacket or he had ambitions of becoming a ventriloquist too!

I shouldn’t have been surprised at their resourcefulness as on another previous occasion, I had gotten to work and discovered that our steel reinforced gates had been completely removed, the hardened steel insurance approved security padlock was still firmly in place but not so the four 2 inch thick mild steel bars that the gates were hinged on, they had been sawn through, that must have taken a long time and some tremendous effort to do as the pile of broken hacksaw blades on the floor would testify.

In those days car radio theft had reached epidemic proportion so we used to take them all out we had even started to remove the rear speakers from part exchanges till the cars were sold, as they were being jemmied out of the doors and parcel shelves leaving hundreds of pounds of damage to the cars for a piece of audio equipment that you would be lucky to get a fiver for in the pub. We were even leaving  the cars open in the compound so that we wouldn’t have to replace a window when the thieves broke in, occasionally windows were still smashed by thieves who were too stupid to try the door handle or who were miffed at finding there was nothing inside to steal.

That day the good news was that there seemed to be no damage to the Four or five cars that had been moved out of the lineup and nothing was missing as far as I could see, I was however momentarily  baffled by the big gouge right up the centre of the concrete ramp that led out of our compound, it wasn’t long before I found out  that the gouge had been caused by the towing hook on the caravan which had been stolen from next door, they had also cut through the fence between our compound and the caravan sales pitch.

The front entrance of the Caravans was on a main road and had been heavily fortified over the years as they had been consistently  targeted by thieves, every time finding new and improved ways of trying to put the Caravan lads out of business, Cars weren’t so easy to pinch and dispose of, and weren’t a favorite for them as a family of Pikeys couldn’t live in a car, our compound wasn’t as secure and the thieves had obviously realised this during their reconnaissance.

To make it worth their while they had hatched a plan to steal several caravans at once, their escape would be made covertly through the back of our garage,  a procession of caravans were all lined up just ready to hitch to a car and drive off into the night, it would seem even robbers have their off days their plan was fatally flawed and our ramp was too steep to get a caravan up easily, the van or the tow bar had grounded out undeterred and determined not to leave empty-handed they had carried on but they must have been afraid that the noise had woken the neighbors up so they scarpered having stolen just one.

The “traveling show” was stopped 100 miles away just outside Birmingham when an eagle-eyed Policeman called at a service station for his nightly comfort break and caffeine injection, his suspicions were aroused when he noticed that the number plate on the beautiful Caravan was off a nearly new car  and it didn’t correspond to the one on the back of the rotten old scrap laden pick up that it was attached to, a quick PNC by the officer and a call to the owner of the car registration and it was revealed that the Van should have been locked up in Preston, the suspected thieves story of buying it from a guy in a pub was beginning to look a little shaky, and he was arrested.