Why I gave a thief my business card

My neighbour had a strange thing in each hand when I responded to his ferociously loud, “shit’s going down” kind of knock.

It’s about midnight on a Wednesday, and there’s my neighbour with a plate of food in one hand, and a hoodie in the other. Thing was the hoodie was currently occupied, by a 17 year old lad with a guilty look on his face.

“Bro I just caught this guy breaking into your car! What should we do with him!?”

Can we just. There I was knee-deep in a FIFA match on my Playstation, now all a sudden I’m deciding some petty criminal’s fate?


First off we need to commend the badass-ness of my neighbour, Gerrard, who not only caught a criminal and hand-delivered him to my doorstep, but did it all while holding a plate of chicken wings.

As I came to terms with what was going on, Gerrard mentioned something.

“We don’t call cops for this kind of thing.”

I’ve heard this unwritten rule before. It’s usually when the person calling would rather avoid law enforcement themselves, which in Gerrard’s case is likely due to his recreational “side-business”. Which justifies why he’s got CCTV for his driveway, which explains how he saw this wee punk breaking into my car on his security monitor, which also explains how he didn’t even have time to drop his dinner to bolt outside and nab him. It all makes sense now.

I shook a word out.

“OK, yeah I don’t think cops are what we need here either.” (Lies, they are exactly what we need here.)

As I stumbled around for some more sentences to try smooth over my obvious shock, who pipes up but the kid in the hoodie.

“Honestly it wasn’t-”
He didn’t make it very far through his sentence. It was cut short by the most vicious back-hand I’d ever seen, courtesy of Gerrard.

“Don’t you fuckin’ talk to him! You should be apologizing! You’re lucky it’s not my car!”

As the punk’s lip started to bleed, his getaway car rolled up. In it were his accomplices who were looking for him. Gerrard left me with the boy at my doorstep to go staunch out the new visitors.

“Are you his wheels? Pretty shit friends for leaving your mate to get caught!” Etc etc…

It’s just me, and this rather pathetic looking kid. I tried to play good cop.

“Look bro I don’t know what’s going on at home for you to feel like you need to do this kind of stuff, but whatever it is, you got to talk about it.”

He looked shocked that I didn’t decide to lecture-shout at him about the money to fix my car.

“Honestly sir it actually wasn’t me.”

He even chucked in a “sir”. Even though he decided to start showing some respect we both knew he was full of it. Since I was nice to him he must of felt stink about busting my car window. My guilt manipulation was on point.

“Can I please get some ice for my lip?”

It was bleeding a bit. Gerrard wasn’t playing tiddlywinks before, more like connect four… Connecting four knuckles to his jaw.


I retreated to the kitchen and grabbed some ice. I also pulled out a business card and handed them both to him.

“Bro if you’ve got no one to talk to about whatever’s going on, like the reasons for all this, you can always email me and we can just chat about it.”

His face lit up. Where he expected a hiding, a tiny bit of interest was shown in the decent man he could possibly become.

Meanwhile Gerrard was chasing the getaway car off our road. As it turned around to head for the way out, he threw his plate right into the path of the windscreen. Little bits of chicken and glass littered the street. Gerrards flatmate was also waiting at the end of the road for the car with a big-ass rock, which he tossed into the path of the speeding car. A brutal thud marked the end of their failed thieving mission in our hood.


Two reasons for handling it this way. First, he knows where I live. If I roughed him up, guess who’s going to have the favour returned to him via his older brothers. And I prefer my cheekbones whole.

Second, yes everybody is a bit insecure, but combine that with no positive role models, plus mates that bond over this sort of thing, you’re going to get sucked in. Call me a lofty left-wing-tree-hugger but what he needs is positivity and belief.

In retrospect, I could’ve handled it differently. Imagine the look on his face if (just to freak him out,) I started casually undoing my belt, saying to Gerrard, “ahwell, tie him up, leave him in my room…”


“Yeah the spider’s caught us a couple flies…”

He didn’t email me, hell he might have thought I was a massive pushover. At least he knows someone mildly gives a shit.


2 thoughts on “Why I gave a thief my business card

  1. Pingback: Four things New Zealand can learn from Japan | Shawn Cleaver

  2. Pingback: Six times I’ve narrowly avoided disasters while travelling | Shawn Cleaver

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