Stop, thief!

Thou shalt not steal. It's one of the biggies, right up there with thou shalt not kill and thou shalt not wear form-fitting Lycra bike shorts out in public. They're just things that well-adjusted, rational, civil adults don't do, sort of an innate code of conduct. Sure there are violators (particularly pertaining to the latter of the three), but for the most part Durangoans have a better than average track record adhering to such codes. Which makes this a much better place to live than, say, Detroit, where any private property that isn't nailed down becomes free for the looting, pillaging and burning. A city dweller friend of mine once had a gold chain (hey, it was the '90s) stolen while she was wearing it. A boyfriend in college had skis stolen off the top of his car, even though they were securely locked in a rack, which also was stolen.

Which isn't to big city bash. It's just that the bigger the city, the more kooks. And while a little kookiness can be good, some of us do reach a threshold, after the third or so mugging or car-jacking, at which time we pack what's left of our bags and head for the hills. Or, in many of our cases, Durango.

Here we can shed our big city paranoia, leave the front door unlocked (sometimes even wide open) and perhaps go so far as to occasionally leave the keys in the ignition, and feel that everything is sort of OK with the world for once. We can lose our wallets with the secure knowledge that it more than likely will be returned fully intact, probably by someone we know, and leave our bikes unlocked while we dash into the Post Office. We are further comforted by the fact that the cost of living leaves most of us with no money to spend on anything anyway, so even if thieves were to strike, they would go home extremely disappointed.

And then, of course, there's the whole Golden Rule/karmic retribution thing, depending on one's religious leanings. Basically it dictates that what comes around goes around. Treat others with respect, and they will do unto you. Screw someone over, and you can expect to be screwed in return, many fold. Perhaps nowhere is this rule more understood and accepted than among those of us with gear. Sure, it's okay to covet thy neighbor's new full-suspension titanium mountain bike, but there's no reason to go any further when you have a perfectly good one of your own. Furthermore, anyone who saw Greg Brady nearly drown during the "Hawaiian Vacation" episode knows the cosmic repercussions of such unjust actions. For example, steal a sleeping bag and wake up to a red ant infestation that swells your lower extremities to the size of watermelons. Knowingly ride a stolen bike, and end up having to crawl 20 miles through the burning desert with no water and a broken leg after it breaks down.

Unfortunately, every now and then the seedy element seeps in, or percolates up. These are the types who either don't believe in the code or have never seen the Hawaiian Vacation episode. They are the ones who, over the years, have been responsible for a stolen load of underwear at the Laundromat, a beater bike out of my front yard and the occasional morning paper. And while these things may seem obvious, if not perverse, targets, there are some traditionally sacred items. Take kayaks, for example. Although they can typically run the average river rat more than a summer's pay, they are seen by Joe Clepto as worthless hunks of plastic. Because of this, boaters are able to keep their boats on top of their cars when not in use, which is a good thing because we tend to be a lazy lot.

Unfortunately, I think the age of innocence may be ending. A friend of mine recently had two boats stolen off her car in front of her house in downtown Durango. It was the second such incident that I know of in the last three or so years. I know, two thefts in three years does not a crime spree make. But what is troublesome is that it is highly unlikely that the boats were taken by an actual boater because a) fear of aforementioned unpleasant karmic payback, and b) the cam straps holding the boats were cut, when any boater simply would have unbuckled them (and then taken them, too). In other words, the underwear/newspaper/crappy bike stealers are now moving in on our good gear.

Sure, the obvious solution would be to foil such looters by dutifully ferreting away and locking up one's prized possessions, sort of like they do in prison. Which, in turn, would necessitate locking up front doors, back doors, windows, cars and loved ones. Of course, there's always the chance of entry through a broken window, in which case bars would be a handy deterrent, or perhaps a motion-detected alarm system and flood lights. Huge, padlocked privacy fences and a couple of vicious junkyard dogs may also stymie any temptation from passersby. Then, inside our air-tight fortresses, we can again feel safe from the ravages of others. Of course, we'll end up being the paranoid freaks we thought we left behind.

On second thought, maybe it would be better if the vermin just slithered back to the hole from whence they came. Because, as we all know, payback is a bitch.

Missy Votel




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