Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Sunday, 11 August 2013

A vignette of today's Britain

From the BBC:
Special orthopaedic boots belonging to the two-year-old daughter of Hollyoaks actress Carli Norris that were thought to have been stolen, have been handed in to police.
The leather boots were handmade for the child; a disabling condition in both feet means that she needs them to walk properly. On August 1st, they were accidentally left on top of a car park payment machine outside Colchester Hospital, where they had just been collected; when the family went back, they were gone.
Police issued CCTV pictures of two people they want to speak to; [...] a man and woman, both thought to be in their 50s, who were a few places behind the family in the queue at the machine.
This morning, the boots were handed in to Clacton police station by a woman 'from the area'.

So what happened during those ten days? Did conscience get the better of them; were the thieves swayed by the public appeal by a celebrity mum? Or was it the little girl's disability that made all the difference?

The shoes could not have been worn by any other child, but that was presumably not evident at first. In much the same way, my prescription sunglasses in their 'designer' case were stolen on a cross-channel ferry; I like to imagine the thief or the ultimate purchaser painfully squinting through them with a truly abominable headache.

I suppose much depends on whether they were stolen to use or to sell - the regular large car boot sales near Clacton may be relevant here - but it's clear they were removed from the hospital surroundings and taken to someone's home; the ten day and fifteen mile interval makes it highly implausible that the intention was to hand them in all along.

It would surely take a distinctly lax morality and a lack of consideration to steal a child's shoes in the first place, yet, for the seemingly unscrupulous perpetrators, the public appeal of a disabled little girl and her actress mother outweighed the risks of being traced when returning them.

VoilĂ : opportunistic criminality, sentimentality and celebrity worship all rolled into one little story.


  1. *puts on cynical hat*

    Maybe the 10 days was the time they had them up on eBay for with no buyers?

    * attempts to remove cynical hat, finds it stuck*

  2. Similar in one sense - that it was of no use to anyone else - happened to me in 1989. They used a number in the book they stole to see if they could get money for getting the things back. We told them where to go.

    It is shocking- this boots story - and that's an overused word these days, shocking.

    With Julia here too. EBay - bet they tried.

  3. There could be an innocent explanation for all of this. The boots could have been 'found' with the intention of locating the owner, but a series of hysterical and unlikely mishaps, including car chases, hungry bears and a swarm of angry wasps, prevented their return for a full ten days.

    Julia - Lend us your cynical hat.

  4. 'Ang on a bit. There was a queue at the machine. Did nobody think to shout, "Oi squire, those boots are made for walking" or some such more polite phrase? And it was someone further back who chose to walk off with them. Strange, it is a very strange world we live in.

  5. Julia, once again you demonstrate that, compared to you, I am a rank amateur at this sort of thing.

    I love the 'cynical hat' - should be standard uniform for all bloggers!

    JH, the ransom idea is interesting; I seem to remember reading about a victim who agreed to something of the sort in the (vain) hope that the police would go along and arrest the perpetrator.

    Bucko/Demetrius, if we are offering alternative explanations, how about the couple picking up the boots and saying they would hand them in.

  6. My explanation would make a better movie

  7. Bucko, it certainly would.

    The mention of giant snails taking over the Earth (at an earlier post) prompted James Higham to suggest that would make a great film; perhaps we could combine the two.

    Mega-molluscs, suspense, car chases and a winsome toddler; box-office gold!