The security light on the garage came on just as I got to the front door to turn on the outside light. I wasn’t worried as any stray cat is a sufficient presence to trigger the light, then I saw the figure of a man emerge round the side of the garage furthest from the front door. He appeared to be carrying something in his hand, but I couldn’t see what it was. I hoped the back door was locked and he had not been into the house and stolen anything, while I worked on my novel. I didn’t get a proper look at his face before he had turned towards the gate, but I thought he was about fifty, pinched features and grey hair. He looked an unlikely burglar, but a recent email sent by the Chairman of one of the local ladies groups had warned of a sneak thief who had stolen a handbag from a near neighbours’ house while they had been watching television. I decided to be a responsible citizen and dialled 999.
A few minutes later my husband returned, followed almost immediately by a police car which swept into the drive, closely followed by a second who drove along the cycle track looking for my burglar.
A stocky man sprang out of the driver’s seat of the police car and asked me to describe the man I had seen.
‘He was wearing a white and grey check shirt, jeans. I didn’t really get a good look at his face but I thought he had gray hair,’ I said.
The radio on the officer’s lapel began to crackle and he said, ‘We’ve got him.’ He asked me to walk into the private lane that links our home to the bed and breakfast next door. The officer from the second car was talking to the man I had seen in our garden. The same checked shirt and the same angular build. ‘That’s him,’ I said.
We walked back to the house, followed a few minutes later by the police officer. ‘It appears the gentleman is resident at the B&B next door and lost his way in the dark. He says he’s not been drinking but I would dispute that,’ said the officer. He didn’t add those immortal words, his speech was slurred, he was unsteady on his feet and his breath smelt of alcohol, but it was clearly what he meant. Nevertheless he thanked me for calling the police and reassured me I had done the right thing. He explained they were keeping watch for the man they thought was committing the offences by keeping a presence at either end of the cycle track, but had not succeeded in catching him red-handed.
Later the Community Support Officer telephoned, repeating the thanks for calling the police and saying my burglar was a ‘drunk and disorientated tourist.’