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     Volume 4 Issue 50 | June 10, 2005 |

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Straight Talk

Crime Up Close and Personal

Nadia Kabir Barb

Having written about happy slapping in my last article and previously also given my views on the ever growing rate of crime not just in the UK but all over the world, I was not aware that I was about to become yet another statistic and add my name to the list of victims of crime. We read about theft, robbery, corruption, abuse, murder etc., so often these days that most of us are truly becoming desensitised to the extent of the degeneration of our society.

A spur of the moment decision to go and watch a film with my aunt resulted in me returning home at around half past eleven on Friday night. It was not something I did on a regular basis but not completely unusual either as we live in a relatively busy and well-lit area and I was not too concerned about driving home alone. Like any other day, I turned into the driveway and proceeded to park the car. As I picked up my bag and got out, I noticed from the corner of my eye a man rushing towards me saying, "Give me the car keys!" Call it instinct or stupidity, I found myself screaming for help. Immediately I realised my mistake as the man in the sweatshirt with the hood pulled over his eyes grabbed me from behind and clamped his hand over my mouth and told me to shut up. I think the thought that crossed my mind at the time was, "Please God let him not have a knife". I think he must have taken his hand off my mouth for a few seconds as he had to hold on to me with the other while he snatched the keys out of my hand to give them to his accomplice. I tried to recollect the moves I had learnt at my self defence course in University all those years ago where I had almost managed to break the police officer's wrist whilst demonstrating the moves with him, proving that the technique did work if applied correctly, but instead I could hear myself mumbling something feeble along the lines of, "just take the car but don't do anything else". His response was to put his hand over my mouth again and bark at me to take my watch off. As I fumbled to get my watch off my wrist, which at the time felt like the most complex of tasks, I could hear the engine starting up. The next moment I was being shoved out of the way while the hooded youth tried to get into the backseat of the car. As they drove off, I ran into the house. Strangely enough, the entire ordeal was like watching things happening in slow motion or maybe it was the adrenalin kicking in whereby I did not realise I was shaking uncontrollably until I had stepped into the house. If I had not been in a state of shock, I might have found it laughable that the youths were so incompetent that my assailant was shouting for the driver of the car to let him in as they had managed to lock the door while starting the car, plus he forgot to take my watch.

After that, things happened almost as quickly. I was duly impressed and relieved at the fact that the phone call to the police prompted them to arrive within minutes. Luckily we had a tracking system in the car which had been activated as soon as the call had been placed to the police. The two attending officers were exceedingly professional and sympathetic, giving me time to collect my thoughts and asking if I needed an ambulance. I declined the offer as all I wanted to do was to be at home with my family and there was only slight bruising to my lips. They took all the details and asked us to wait for the forensics officer to arrive. It was quite surreal for me as I have always had a morbid curiosity about crime, what drives people to commit certain crimes and have been acutely interested in forensic science. I felt like I was watching an episode of the UK police drama "The Bill" or a scene from the US show "Crime Scene Investigations". The CSI officer arrived with her silver case equipped with her gloves, fingerprint brush, UV light etc. We went through the incident again and she "bagged" my jacket as there was a possibility that that there had been a transference of fibres from his sweatshirt onto my jacket when he had been holding me.

Later that night we received a phone call from the police informing us that the car had been found and that not two but four youths had been seen running away from it. Sadly, none had been apprehended. The police needed to take the car in for fingerprints and we were also informed that due to the nature of the crime, if the youths were caught they were likely to go to prison for a minimum of eight years. They also tell me that in a case of assault such as mine and car jacking, the best thing to do is not to struggle or put up a fight. I thank my lucky stars that apart from my initial knee-jerk reaction of screaming, I had forgotten all my self defence moves. I was lucky to not to have had a knife between my ribs or, maybe worse, being abducted by the assailants.

All I can say here is that these things happen to anyone, anywhere especially when you least expect them to. It can take only moments for someone to commit a crime and for someone to become a victim of crime so my advice to you is to be careful and be safe…

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