Christmas ShoppingChristmas is over. Thank heavens. Now the local shopping should stop, or at least ease off.

Is Christmas shopping so bad? Well, yes, in the plotlands it can be very bad. A fever seems to sweep through the criminal community here. They are clearly believers in celebrating Christmas. I have no desire to interfere with anyone’s religious beliefs, but it does mean that you have to do more than just nail down items you do not want stolen.

Almost anything goes, literally, if they can get their hands on it: a very useful monkey wrench, the television set on which you intended to watch the big game, ladies’ costume jewellery, the toaster that no longer works too well, anything in fact that can be turned into cash.

The most popular criminal Christmas criminal shopping of all in our neighbourhood is the theft of livestock. Dawie, one of my neighbours, in two nights lost one hundred chickens, six pigs, some goats and the chow that was supposed to be guarding them. Even vegetables have been stolen, harvested straight off the land while the plot owner slept peacefully inside.

The worst incident of this kind was when a plot owner, an older man, heard a disturbance in the corral where he kept a few horses. When he went to investigate, he was shot dead.

This is not to say the plot owners will not be under pressure from thieves when the holiday season is over. Throughout the year, very few nights pass without thefts from more than one plot. There are indications that an entire community of thieves subsists on what they steal off the plots.

In many cases thefts seem to be inside jobs. The thieves know exactly where to go, what locks are in their way, where the alarms are situated and how to avoid detection. From time to time a worker disappears on the same night as the flock of goats or the contents of the chicken coop, neither worker nor loot ever to be seen again.

This is not to say that all workers on the plots are criminals, far from it. Most are decent people, trying to get by on the wages that are too low and paid by employers who themselves cannot afford much.

It is not a pretty situation, but thank heavens that Christmas is over. Now we can put Christmas shopping behind us and settle down to more usual levels of criminality.

Christmas Shopping