Thursday, October 27, 2011

On thieves and plans

When we have to leave research equipment in the field, we use a cable lock to secure it around a tree. These types of locks are not common (or available at all, as far as I know) in Ukenzagapia, and B and T covet them for locking their motorbikes. They asked what these locks are used for in the U.S. I said some people use them on bicycles, but you can't use it on a bike in Big City because people will just come and cut it to steal the bike.

T, after a brief reflection, made a keen observation.

"I think, in Ukenzagapia, the thieves are many, but the plan is small. And in America, the thieves are few, but the plan is big."

Keeping your belongings, I've learned, is largely about preventing crimes of opportunity because, as T so nicely put it, "the plan is small". People don't have bolt cutters or hacksaws. If you make it difficult to steal something, they might try and fail, but they generally won't go out of their way to do it.

All that said, people do have machetes. I don't know what exactly happened or how much planning was involved, but this week we discovered that some of our equipment was stolen. They cut through one of the cable locks and in another case broke the equipment to steal it because they failed to break the cable. I have a glimmer of hope that we might be able to recover some or all of it, but I'm not holding my breath.

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