I mentioned in passing in my last post that my car was vandalised by petrol thieves this weekend. I think the sky-rocketing petrol prices here are obviously bringing out the worst in people. A few events happened this day that ended up with me feeling very blessed and fortunate. I’d like to share this experience with you.
I was mowing the lawn when I noticed a mother and son approaching me. She apologised for the intrusion and wondered if I owned a certain make of car. Yes, I said. ”Well, I think it has been tampered with. The petrol door is open, there is petrol all over the road, and my son found a bolt on the road that looks like it came from your car.”
I went down to the road with them and sure enough, the petrol door had been levered open, the petrol cap was gone, and all the petrol siphoned out of my tank, except for the stinking pool that had drained on to the road and down the kerb. Thankfully, I had parked in front of the sump, so the petrol had run down the road away from the opening, and had not entered the waterways.
Because the thieves could not get in through the petrol funnel after they had removed the cap (there is a self-locking mechanism that does not allow anything except a petrol pump into it) they had unscrewed the bung at the bottom of the petrol tank under the car and let the petrol out there. The things you learn from thieves!! I would never have known about that.
Thanking the very kind mother and son who had bothered to find out who owned the car and then walk all the way up to my house to come and tell me, I went back into the house in a state of shock to try to find some help. Coming at the end of a truly awful week, this was the last thing I needed to happen. What do you do when all your petrol is stolen, there’s hazardous material all over the road, and no knowledge of whom to ask for help?
Back in the house, I phoned the police and made a report. Then I phoned my insurance agent as I have a roadside assistance package with them. The insurance agent told me to take pictures of the damage for any potential claim and gave me the number to call for roadside assistance.
I went down to the street to take photographs, and encountered the son, who told me that other cars had also been damaged.
I made an inspection of the street. It was evidently a good night for the scoundrels. Several other cars had also been pumped, and a couple of them had their windows smashed as well. I counted my blessings that hadn’t happened to my car too.
Curiously, I looked at the dashboards of cars that had not been touched. I noticed that none of those cars had visible petrol gauges (either the dashboard was not visible from the outside through tinted glass, or the petrol gauge dropped to zero when the car was not in use). I think this is a lesson to take with me when I get another car – make sure people can’t see how much petrol is left in the car from the outside!
Back in the house, I called the roadside assistance number. This produced no relief. The snippy girl at the other end told me they didn’t help with that sort of thing and I should call my insurance agent about the claim. Frustrated, I wondered if my garage could help. The owner was locking up for they day, but he kindly offered to come up to the house later in the afternoon with some petrol and to help with screwing the bung back into the car. I was very grateful. He also advised me to call someone about the petrol spill.
I phoned the council and told them about the petrol spill. A spill control truck came along within an hour and cleaned it all up, as well as the other spills on the road from the other cars. The spill control man was very nice, and thanked me sincerely for calling them to clean up the spilled fuel. He also offered some kind words of sympathy, and reminded me that there are still more good people in the world than bad.
When the garage owner came to the house, his wife and child were in the car too. They were on their way to an outing, but they had taken the time out of their day to come and help before doing so. I was very touched. He lay on the road and screwed the bung back into the bottom of the petrol tank. Then he painfully put petrol back into the tank (because of the locking mechanism, the petrol can’s nozzle couldn’t enter the funnel and it had to be dribbled in, bit by bit), and then made sure it was fit to drive. He advised that it would be good to get the bung sealed so that only a garage could open it in future, and to buy a petrol cap with a lock on it (mine was only a screw-in). He also told me where I could go to buy the petrol cap (being ignorant about cars, I didn’t really know where to go for it). The most touching thing was that he refused any payment for his time or the petrol. What a very kind Samaritan! His kindness of course will be repaid in the fact he now has the most loyal customer on earth – I shall be going back to him forever after now, to get my car repairs and service done. ;-) I think I shall also knit the whole family warm hats to wear this winter. I will also have to track the mother and son down (the son will definitely go to my son’s school) and thank her properly too.
So, having encountered one group of bad people, the balance was restored with the kindness of so many others: the spill clean-up man, the garage man, and of course, the mother and son who advised me of the theft in the first place. If she had not made the effort to tell me, I doubt I would have known about the car until the next day… It would then have been impossible to find any help at all until Monday. Also, it is due to rain (at last!) all that spilt fuel would have been no good for the waterways as it washed into the storm water system.
I feel very lucky and fortunate that so many good people helped to mitigate the effects of thoughtless criminals who caused a great deal of inconvenience and stress to a lot of people when they woke up to discover their cars vandalised and burgled. It made me feel much better about the situation, and cope with it in a much less stressed manner. That’s the true worth of a healthy society isn’t it – just being there to give that little bit of help where it is badly needed.
The spill control man was right. There are still more good people in the world than bad. And that is a blessing in itself. I am so very thankful.