Occasionally, I'll do a story on the air about the theft of some incredibly unusual item--like a restaurant statue, dead frozen gophers or fish entrails--and I'll preface it by saying "Here's more proof that people will steal anything....." This weekend, that statement was proven true again--in my own front yard.
I resurfaced our driveway on Saturday, and that required no one drive on the asphalt for at least 24 hours. To prevent someone from pulling in without warning, I set up my saw horses and laid a badly warped 2x6 that has been sitting in my garage for a couple of years now across them to block the drive (I know, sounds kind of redneck--but we didn't have any string or rope and a good Scout uses whatever tools are available to him). To stir the resufacer, I used this old field signpost that my father-in-law had given me for another project a couple of years ago that was also just laying around in the garage. I left that lying on the end of the driveway to dry out so it didn't drip all over the floor when I put it back.
When my wife went to bed at Midnight that night, the board and the post were still in the yard. When I got up at 4:30 to get ready for an early round of golf Sunday morning--they were both gone. We had been visited by The Stealers.
The Stealers are the people that apparently drive around the city looking for things just laying around in people's yards--and taking them. They are slightly less respectable than their cousins: The Pickers. At least The Pickers cruise in neighborhoods where the garbageman is due to visit the next day--and they take things that people have already decided to get rid of. The Stealers apparently work the entire city and don't care if you still have a use for something or not.
I know that most thefts are crimes of opportunity--a thief sees something of value and has a chance to make an easy score. But the 2x6 was ten feet long--and the post was about six-feet tall--not the kind of items you can easily toss into the back seat or a trunk of a car. So The Stealers either cruise around in full-size pickup trucks--or they spot what they would like and return with the vehicle or equipment needed to haul it away.
I'm also left wondering what they are going to do with those items? As I mentioned, the board was badly warped--too much for even the Habitat For Humanity Restore to get use out of it. I'm imagining a deck or a fence somewhere in Oshkosh built with all of these wavy boards and mis-cut lumber that had a ten foot long hole in it that needed by board. And did that fence need a steel post to prop it up because it was sagging after the kids in the apartment complex behind your house kept climbing on it to see into the backyard?
I don't plan to call the Oshkosh Police Department to report the theft of my warped board or my sign post. I would rather the officers dedicate their time to even greater nuisances to our community: People Who Don't Know How To Navigate Roundabouts. I just want to let The Stealers know that you are truly some of the most pathetic losers in our society today.