Darkness had fallen around the isolated farmhouse and the young single woman who lived there felt a sense of menace. Already there had been a prowler and the headlights she saw stopped outside created a growing sense of anxiety. When would the intruder step from the car? What would happen next? The music had that familiar ominous mood that one associates with thrillers.
In the shadows, the woman peered through one of the sash windows that she had opened.
Why had she opened the window? The answer became apparent as she discharged both barrels of a twelve bore shotgun at the prowler’s car, which sped away.
Of course, it was fiction, an episode of the crime series Vera, but at last there was a character with whom I could identify.
The women among whom I grew up would have responded in such a way. When my mother was grabbed by a man on the way home from a dance, my aunt did not scream for help, instead she took off one of her stilletto shoes and struck the man on the top of the head with the heel. It became apparent that they were not called ‘stillettos’ without reason. When the police arrived, the man, who was very drunk, pleaded with them not to tell the police what had happened. Were it to happen seventy years later, the man would be making a complaint of assault against my aunt.
With the legal system so stacked against the victim, there must often be the temptation to act similarly to the character in Vera, not that most of us would have 12 bore shotgun to hand.
Criminals always pick on vulnerable people, the isolated, the elderly, the defenceless. Crime is highest in the poorest areas because people have not the resources to protect themselves or their property.
Robberies have become frequent in my small home village, two robberies in a week from the vacant house down the road which has been undergoing renovation. The items stolen are usually tools or farm machinery, but the stories create a mood of fear among older people. Who knows when thieves, already noted for their brazenness, might decide that there are people’s homes that would offer opportunity of profit?
When will it stop? Perhaps when those who steal find they have no market for their goods, when people stop buying goods they must know to be stolen. Perhaps when people are inspired by Vera and fire a shotgun out into the darkness.