my encounter with a thief

Everyday I bring my personal computer to work.  It’s an Asus netbook computer which I would keep in a netbook bag so it would be easy to carry and well-protected. It would normally take me an hour to reach the office then back.

Officemates would advise me to keep my computer inside my other bag or keep it inside a bag that’s not so obvious to a thief/robber. They said I am high risk to danger.  I followed their advice for only a few days because (1) no matter what I do my computer would bump on something or get hit by something when I’m travelling, and (2) once, when I went to a grocery store carrying a jungle bag, the guard told me to leave my laptop at the check-in counter.  How did he know I have a laptop when really, I wasn’t carrying a laptop.  I was only carrying a jungle bag with my usual stuff inside.  And that made me realize that even a non-thief knows that you may be carrying something valuable inside a bag, like a tablet maybe, or any other high tech thingamajig.  Besides, it’s a common practice for people to put their laptop in a knapsack or a jungle bag for “protection.”

So I went back to my usual practice, bringing my computer to work and I would keep it in my netbook bag that has foam and pockets inside.  Laptop/notebook/netbook bags exist for a reason, you know.  I consider it an everyday miracle that I could travel freely and safely while carrying my netbook wherever I go, exposed to bad people lurking in every corner.

Ironically, it was in the comforts of our own home that my netbook was stolen. Well, almost.

It was Monday, July 28, we had an early office dismissal at noontime because there would be the State of the Nation Address of President Noynoy in the afternoon. Actually I wasn’t able to go to work because of a terrible traffic that’s not even moving and there were a lot of trucks and uniformed men that obstructed certain portion of the road. So this prompted me to go to SM Fairview instead because I looked messy, sweating under the horrifying heat while attempting to hail a taxi cab from where I was but alas, each taxi cab I hailed was occupied. I thought of going back home but it would be difficult to do so since I had to pass through the same congested road in order to get back. So I decided to go to a mall to relax there then watched a movie. Around 5pm, I was home.

When I arrived, I saw my father at the sala literally and figuratively listening closely at the television, listening to P-Noy’s SONA. I put my netbook at one of the chairs that surrounded our dining table. My other bag I put beside me as I sat at our bamboo sofa. I wasn’t paying attention to the SONA because I needed to do something else: to compute my expenses. Just my habit.

Then I felt something strange.

When I sensed something from my peripheral vision like something was moving that was reflected at the glass shield of our cabinet, I glanced back to where the dining table was. Then my eyes looked down to something that was crawling below the table. That something wasn’t a something but someone. A stranger! Then “it” stood up. He was carrying something that did not belong to him. I thought it was the bag of my brother! I shouted “Hoy!” to stop him, he moved so fast so I tried to run after him, he went out of the kitchen door but alas, because of my terror and shock, I was only capable of shouting so loud while running like as if there was a heavy ball chained to my foot. I couldn’t run fast!

In split seconds, he was gone.

My father, who is partly deaf in his right ear, was at first just stood up when he heard me shout. He thought I was just angry at something. But when he saw the guy outside running to our terrace then jumped high to the ground then disappeared like a lightning, my father was like exasperated, thinking about what he could have done. If only my father was alert and went out of the door from the sala, he could have easily cornered and seen the face of the stranger. But everything happened so fast. And who would have thought that even in our presence, thief would attempt to steal inside our house. And our defenses were low because we were at home.

So that was the failed attempt of the thief to steal my netbook.

I said earlier it was the bag of my brother that he tried to run away with. When I failed to catch the thief and went back inside the house, I saw my netbook on the kitchen floor. It was my netbook!  All my work is there, my work in the office, personal articles of mine. They’re not confidential though but still, those are mine! And the netbook, that’s a gift from my older brother who is working abroad. Though I should have thanked the angels that the thief let go of my netbook as I tried to run after him while shouting “Hoy!” in a repetitive manner, again because of terror and shock, I still went ballistic. And my poor father had to listen to all my litany of fears and suspicions and blame. It could have been worse.  (The thief was young. Around 12 to 14 years old, around 5 feet in height.)

I’m not angry at that person or thief. I’m angry at the kind of community we live in. Some adults might be directing that boy to steal. Things are not always what they seem, you know. Besides, children are protected by law. And this is not the first time it happened. That was the third time. In fact, the first attempt some children saw the thief, a boy. But it was a failed attempt because at the exact moment that the boy was already on top of the fence, my father just stepped out of our front door. It was an eye-to-eye encounter but the thief was quick, jumped off then disappeared out of nowhere. It was so quick that my father couldn’t remember the face of the thief.  One of the children who witnessed the act later admitted he knew the boy who attempted to get into our house. He was his classmate who does not go to school anymore. However, he refused to divulge more information, refused to be too involved. An adult neighbor also saw the boy climbing to our terrace but he didn’t do anything either. So I got angry at them. Wishing that what happened to us won’t happen to them. The second time it happened, the thief was successful. He was able to run away with the rubber shoes of my cousin and his son.  Nobody was home.  The third attempt—a failed attempt, thank God!—the target was my netbook.

I usually go home at night time and during that day of July 28 was one of those rare occasions where I went home on a daylight. While passing through our street (our house is at the end of the street), I would always see children playing and some adults on the sidelines chatting/gossiping or if not, watching the passersby, or simply just outside relaxing. Our community is composed of homeowners and the rest are either renting a house, caretakers or informal settlers. We are near the relocation site where informal settlers from different parts of Metro Manila were relocated. I am certain that the thief saw me walking on my way home.



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