Saturday, August 1, 2009

Rubinetto rubato

Most second-home owners know the challenge of keep intruders off the premises. A house that stands uninhabited part of the year is like a honey pot attracting creep, who sees other people's property as a tempting buffet. The situation is the same in Denmark and Italy- there are thieves everywhere. The same goes for imaginative measures to combat theft.

In Italy the most basic theft precaution consists of a boundary wall surrounding the entire property. The wall should preferably be so tall and dense that outsiders cannot distinguish a palace from a cave. It should be enforced by a little barbed wire on top, surveillance cameras, private guards or barking, loose-running dogs. And the only point of entrance is a securely locked iron gate or cancello.

Our cancello may appear a bit under dimensioned and shaky, but a solid iron chain and a heavy padlock hold it together. The boundary wall includes several metres of archaeologically interesting muro di pietra along with some rusty wire that threatens potential gatecrashers with acute blood poisoning, if they get too close. It works, because nobody has as yet forced his or her way through the forward defences. Maybe because a they can quite easily gain access by making a pincer movement through the neighbour's olive trees.

We have in other words experienced thefts. First, thieves nicked an indispensable pipe wrench, which we had rather naively left in an open shed. The second time, they stole a load of firewood from the finest olive trees to be used in the fireplace on cool spring evenings. And this year, they had stolen a tap over an outdoor sink. Not a big loss, but extremely annoying, because you cannot open the water supply and use the toilet, before the hole in the wall has been plugged.

More valuable personal belongings are stored safely inside the house, which, despite a relatively modest exterior, is equipped with the bars and shutters in front of all windows; just you need three different keys to open each of the two double doors. Thieves will have to work hard to get into the house, and they have no guarantee that it contains anything worth stealing. Other homeowners in the area take their refrigerator, washing machine, mattresses, kitchen appliances and even doors and windows along, when they move from their house in the country to the winter residence in town. This applies to our dear, old neighbours, who leave their house in the country open and empty, when they do not live there. Nevertheless, and regardless of the fact that they visit the premises to work the land every day, thefts have hit them extra hard.

After we had been complaining about our rubinetto rubato, that costed 4 euros at the plumber's shop, our neighbour went into his house and discovered that the thief had removed all taps and fittings, including the toilet and the bidet. It cost him 100 euros of his state pension to repair the damages and a good deal of surprise. For who on earth would bother to steal other people's used toilet?

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