Saturday, July 30, 2011

What the Scrap Thieves Do

I went into my garage last night and gazed at in despair. I suppose I should have taken a photo to show before and after but I didn't. I won't share my shame with you. I can't even blame it on the boys either, much though I'd like to.

I went in again this morning and challenged it to a dual. Off I went to Castorama to buy shelves and boxes. They were having a promotion of boxes so I bought nine, with lids, and a set of sturdy shelves. Not being one to hang about, I started immediately I got home, set up the shelves and found, to my dismay that the boxes didn't really fit on them. They were exactly the same height. Bugger.

Then I went through my stuff and sorted out what I wanted to take to the dump, loaded up the car, put in 6 of the 9 boxes and went off. At the dump, I saw the guy in charge and asked him about the thieving that was going on. He said it was rife everywhere, up and down the country. Travellers and gypsies are the main culprits surprise surprise...

They are utterly determined to get in and steal primarily metal which they then sell to scrap dealers. In an attempt to clamp down somewhat, they can no longer be paid in cash apparently, but have to accept a cheque, which means they need a bank account, and, I suppose, exposes them potentially to the fisc... Dump man also said that there were still scrap dealers who just ignored the rule, and continued to pay in cash.

Not only do they steal metal, but they also now break into the office and nick the coffee machine and anything else they can get their hands on. If they can't get in through the door, they break a window, or go round the back. This annoys the dump man more than anything as he has to replace the coffee machine.

The most extraordinary act of thieving though, has to be the kids sent into the clothing containers. France doesn't have such a proliferation of charity shops in towns as there is in the UK. Basically you can take stuff to a Croix Rouge office or put in one of the clothing containers that lurk in dumps and a number of supermarket carparks. They also accept toys, material and shoes. I put a lot of the boys' old clothes and toys in there.
The clothes bin looks a bit like this

The containers are owned by a company in Beaucaire, between Avignon and Nimes which recycles the clothes, sells them on and thus employs a number of people. What the thieving gypsies do is send a child into the container to post out the items. Sometimes, the child gets stuck inside. When this happens, the gypsies ring the company who have to come out all the way from Beaucaire 90 mins away to open up the container and let the child out. I don't know if they manage to recover the clothes at the same time though...

I was going to put two bags of toys and clothes into the container today, but it had been vandalised and forced open with everything nicked. Dump man said that the company is less and less keen to keep coming to repair the containers because every time they do, the containers are vandalised again and everything is stolen. As it costs money to provide, repair and collect from the containers, if there is nothing in them when you get there, it's rather pointless going to all the trouble. It'll come to the point where the company goes bust, and removes all the containers.

It would be much more enterprising of the gypsies if they set up their own recycling business. They obviously have contacts and a network. All it needs is a little organisation and a legitimate business and they wouldn't have to lurk about parasitically stealing from people trying to earn an honest wage. Maybe being part of a parasitic parallel economy is what they enjoy doing best though...

I went back to Casto this afternoon to swap the big boxes for slightly smaller ones. They aren't as high so will fit on my shelves perfectly. All I have to do now is fill them. This morning I found a couple of blouses that belonged to my granny (vintage!) and a long linen petticoat with little blue bows. I suppose I should put stuff like that on EBay. I'm definitely not risking putting them in the gypsy skip. There's all my teddies too, my university scarf, primary school scarf and a shirt from the last day of my sixth form. My granny had knitted some little tank tops and trousers for my teddies - how can you get rid of stuff like that?!