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The right side of Big Brother’s watchful eye
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
If you’re no fan of those video cameras that are evermore prevalent in our society, keep reading.
Perhaps you’ve been victimized by a red-light camera, or you simply don’t like being watched as you bank, shop, or drink in a downtown bar.
The flip side is, every now and then Big Brother scores on behalf of the law-abiding majority. This is one of those times — it happened this week to the Caseys. Thanks are in order to Roanoke City Police.
My son, Zach, attends Patrick Henry High School. Sometimes, he rides his electric scooter there. Tuesday was one of those days. But he forgot his lock. Oops.
So when Zach parked it at the school’s bike rack, he wisely disconnected the hidden battery from the motor. This disabled the scooter, which is heavy and hard to push. He thought it was secure that way. He was wrong.
When he left school Tuesday afternoon, the scooter was nowhere to be found. He reported the theft to the school.
I learned of this when a school resource officer called our house before Zach arrived home. The policeman needed the scooter’s make and model for his report.
Based on my own frequent and tragic experience with having bicycles stolen as a kid, I figured the scooter was a goner. Its almost-fully charged battery would go about 12 miles. But whoever took it did not have the specialized charger. I assumed it would get dumped somewhere as soon as the juice ran out.
But the school resource officer offered a ray of hope. The school bike rack stands under the watchful gaze of a video camera, he noted.
“We’re going to review the video, and see if we can identify who took it,” the officer said Tuesday.
On Wednesday morning, he called me back. He had identified the larcenous lad. The boy was not in school Wednesday.
“How far does he live from Patrick Henry?” I asked.
“It’s a good few miles,” the cop said. It seemed to leave open the possibility that the scooter might be at the kid’s house.
On the video, the officer said, the suspect fiddled with the hidden battery connection awhile before he could get the scooter to scoot. Several times he looked to the left and right, to make sure his coast was clear. Then he rode off.
All of this was captured by the Big Brother video camera.
The officer drove over to bandit-boy’s house to see what he could find out. It turned out the kid still had the scooter. It was in his basement. His mother agreed to give it up.
The school resource officer informed me of this in an afternoon phone call. He said he would have another officer pick up the scooter and bring it to our house.
And sure enough, about 4:30 p.m., a second police officer knocked on our door. The scooter was on the front sidewalk. He said the kid who’d taken it had been arrested earlier.
I asked where he had picked it up. It was from a house in southeast Roanoke near Jackson Park, he said. That was when we knew this had been no prank pulled by one of Zach’s friends.
The student had messed with the scooter. It appeared as if he was try to take the thing apart. One large nut was missing from the front wheel. Five bolts from the back wheel also were gone.
The second officer didn’t know the details about where it had been stolen from, or the video sleuthing that led to the suspect’s apprehension.
“Zach had parked it under a video camera,” I told the officer. “The police at the school viewed the tape and identified who took it.”
“It’s a good thing some kids are stupid,” he joked. “Otherwise, we’d be out of a job.”
Now the kid has suffered through the ignominy of an arrest. He’ll have a date in court. The school has him pegged. He’ll be a suspect anytime anything is stolen at Patrick Henry.
Hopefully, this will teach him a few lessons he’ll be able to profit from later in life.
First, stealing is wrong. Second, cops are much smarter than you might think. Third: Big Brother is probably watching.
And that’s not always a bad thing.
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