Regular readers of my blog will by now know that I’ve not had the best few months. I appreciate that everyone has their struggles and, by comparison, mine perhaps seem irrelevant and the fact that I go on about them so publicly and in such detail may be a tad churlish. With this in mind, I am quite pleased to say that since recently things have improved somewhat. Sure, I was still burgled, given notice at my job, left by my girlfriend, drowned with debt and also turned 30; but see I’m a big believer in the little things in life. It’s too much to expect that I will win the lottery or that Mila Kunlis will arrive at my door begging for a sexy hug, but well meant gestures, good manners, kind words and little fragments of decency are sometimes all we need to realise that the world isn’t such a bad place. Well, that or the delicious taste of revenge and justice being done.
I had one such experience only today; and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Hark back if you will to New Years Day, you were all out celebrating and spending time with your loved ones. So was, but as we partied and in the wee small hours, some reprobate was breaking into my house, robbing me of my belongings and trust in fellow man. My new year’s thieves only managed to get away with a camera, laptop and my X-box. Not a bad haul I’m sure you’ll agree, but also as they soon found out, a grave error. Permit me to explain.
X-boxless and alone, reluctantly I began to socialise with real people. And it was a good job I did. In late January I was visiting a friend’s house, predictably we were playing X-box when all of a sudden I came on-line. But hold on, my Xbox was stolen and as yet still unreplaced. So how in God’s name was this happening? Seeking permission, I checked my friend’s friend-list and sure enough there I was; ‘Sosolidvampire1 is on-line’. I checked ‘my’ profile to see if there was any information and to my surprise I was now a bald-headed, goatee wearing black man.
Then I got angry. This wasn’t helped by the day’s drinking which preceded it.
I’d have paid good money to see my face at this point – a mix of bewilderment, a red-face and hard-boiled fury. See, its one thing to be burgled, but quite another to have your identify stolen. I appreciate this isn’t identity theft in the real sense, but surely it must have some ethical muddiness with regards on-line identify? There’s my rep to consider for one. My kill ratio and gamer points and as if I would play Gran Tourismo or God’s sake?!
Wasting no time I got on to the local Police and from here on in it’s difficult to articulate my frustration. To me it was simple, someone stole my Xbox and now they were using my account. Therefore, someone HAS my Xbox and, as it’s being used on-line, their IP address can be checked by contacting Microsoft thus providing an address. Hell, even if the person using it didn’t burgle me themselves – they’re still handling stolen goods and committing fraud by charging my bank account for use of Xbox LIVE… I understand that the nature of the crime I was reporting is usual, but seriously, the next 15 minutes were like trying to explain Quantum Physics to a dog. And not even a very bright dog. This is no reflection on the Police, who for what it’s worth were fantastic, but the poor chap I was on to had at best a limited understanding of gaming and on-line etiquette. But he got it in the end, well, he wrote it down anyway.
Days went by, then weeks and I assumed that the evidence I had supplied had become redundant. But then on Monday 27th April that all changed as I received a call from the Police asking me if there was anything identifiable about my Xbox. I paused for a moment. Was there? Had I added anything which may make it stand out, was there any periphery which might identify it as mine? My pause must have lingered longer than I thought.
‘Mr Welch?’ the voice asked. ‘Was there anything that might identify it was yours?’
Now at this stage I wasn’t 100% sure, but due to the nature of my own work I had inherited some smart water pens as part of an anti-burglary campaign (smart water does not show as visible to the eye but can be seen under UV light) and, with this I was confident enough to ask.
‘Sorry, yes. I think I that there may be something written using smart water’ I replied cautiously.
The voice coughed, as though embarrassed. ‘Would you be able to confirm what was written on the stolen item, Sir?’ the voice went on.
I think we all know what its like to not be able to laugh but really want to. When you’re in church and someone farts, in a meeting when someone’s phone goes off exposing a hilarious and surprising Hip-Hop ring tone. Or in this case, when a police Officer has her fears confirms and hears the answer: ‘Yes. If memory serves I drew a massive penis on my Xbox’.
Now bless this woman, but at this point she could no longer hold in her laughter and more of less lost it on the phone for a good ten seconds. Between composing herself and giggles she did apologise (which I had no trouble in accepting) and we continued our conversation. Sadly, she was unable to confirm any details of the actual daubings with me as they had to speak with the suspect further, but on ending the call she did seem confident that I would, one day see my Xbox again.