Wednesday, 26 September 2012

A Crime on the Canal



I am new to the school run as Big Sister only started school a few days ago. We do the school run with the bicycle trailer, and leave it locked to a sign post overnight. Imagine our surprise one hurried morning when I hassled a two year old and a four year old up the towpath and onto the lane to find: no bike, no trailer. I double-check my memory; yes we did lock it up here yesterday after school.  I can’t believe it’s been stolen! Especially from a country lane in the middle of nowhere. We’re away from our home mooring at the moment and moored in a beautifully rural isolated spot, overhanging with trees. There’s only one other boater moored here, some distance down the towpath from us. As luck would have it that boater arrived home at that moment and offered us a lift to school in his car. His dogs were in the boot and the girls giggled all the way as the dogs licked their fingers. 

Later at Tring police station the constable takes my details and finds it hard to imagine the kind of trailer I am describing. We do get people stopping, staring and pointing as I cycle to school and nursery with my two princesses in their red canvas carriage behind. The policeman says that he will put a sign up in the police station and get a feature in the local paper.
“Really?” I said incredulously. “I used to live in London. You’d say, I’ve had a bike stolen, and the police would say, Oh yeah.” Meaning, “whatever”.
He laughs.
“But this is Tring!”

For the next few days we make long journeys to school by foot,(me) by pushchair (little one) and by scooter (big girl). The school teacher, nursery staff and the other mums are shocked at the theft we have suffered. Soon enough the crime reference number is generated and five or six days after the theft I am planning to claim on the boat contents insurance. That morning I’m busily hurrying the girls ready for school and nursery. The Doctor has just left the boat, heading to work when he phones me.
“The bike trailer is back!”
“What?”
“The bike and the trailer, they’re back where we left them!”
The lock of course is gone, and the bike seat has been lowered to accommodate the size of someone much smaller than me but other than that it’s our same old familiar and super-useful trailer. Did some thieving  kid’s parents insist that they take that right back to wherever they got it? Did someone have a pang of guilt that they’d stolen from a young family? Or is there just not much call for a bike with one broken brake and a tatty child trailer on the black market in Tring? Tring is a charming Hertfordshire market town, and even the thieves are good at heart it seems.
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