Posted by: Rob | May 20, 2008

What Cooter was doing

We live in a small hamlet not far outside the city of Edmonton. It’s a rural hamlet and comprises at most about 150 or so households. It’s an eclectic collection of houses; no hint of architectural controls here. In fact many houses, including ours, have been moved here from somewhere else. Why let a good building go to waste, right?

Many of the houses, and a lot that are right around ours, are revenue properties. That’s a polite way of saying they are rentals. I’ve been a renter myself (and a darn good one, I think), but I probably fell into the minority type of tenant. My observations have led me to conclude that most renters really don’t give much of a shit about where or how they are living. They don’t care about upkeep or how the yard looks and they often don’t give much thought or consideration to the people living around them. I realize this is a pretty sweeping generalization, but it does sum up my own observations. To be fair, I’ve observed these behaviours in home owners as well, so maybe it’s a class thing. I don’t know.

Our bedroom window faces the north. It’s a newer, casement style window and when it’s open it funnels sounds from the west into our bedroom. We’ve taken to having the window open a bit at night; makes for better sleeping. Even in the winter. But, there are times when I have had to get up and close the window as whatever goings-on that happen late at night out back have kept us awake. After listening to the apparent loading and/or un-loading of stuff late one night, I muttered something about “I don’t know what Cooter’s doing out there, but I’m tired of listening to it.” as I got up to shut the window. Cooter, of course, being a reference to the mechanic dude on TV’s “The Dukes of Hazzard”.

Well, now I truly deserve to be called a rube. I learned from my down the street neighbour tonight (while he was out walking his dog) that the police have busted a theft-ring operating from the rental house across the alley from us. I was incredulous! That this could or would happen in our little hamlet? But then, some things I’ve noticed over the months began to make sense.

Things like the late night comings and goings of pick-up trucks and trailers. Stuff going into and out of the garage. The huge mounds of trash left out weekly in the back alley. With my naive blinders on, all I could do was grouse to myself about how anyone could be throwing that much stuff away. Well, it turns out there was probably a lot of stolen junk being tossed.

One day Ann and I were in the back drive and this black dude* – big black dude – went walking by. Walking by. At the time I remarked to Ann, “Now that’s something you don’t see everyday. A black dude walking up the alley.” I thought something seemed strange about this. Ann said tonight that at the time, she sensed “something creepy” about him.

According my neighbour, there were about twelve people shacked up in that house. The police have arrested four of them, but one has been released already. The police vow to get the rest, I guess. Apparently, there was also the proverbial “the house is trashed” and “someone was working on a motorcycle in the house and there’s oil on the rugs and everywhere”**. There was something like $150,000 to $200,000 in stolen merchandise in the house and garage if you believe the gossip.

Now, I don’t know if the police have picked these folks up soon enough, as I am now recollecting about a week back, when some dudes were loading up a truck and trailer with a bunch of stuff (I don’t know what, I wasn’t watching). I assumed they were moving out. They left yet another mound of trash for pick-up and I was a bit miffed about a bunch of broken glass left lying in their garage entry way and spilling out into the alley.

I guess I’m going to have to sharpen my observation skills a little. I used to be affectionately known as “the neighbourhood watch guy”. I don’t know how I would ever make out living in a big city.

* Our hamlet – hell, our area – is pretty white. It doesn’t get much whiter than it is around here. Sure, there are lots of different visible minorities in the city. But we don’t really see anything other than white people around here. It’s not racist or prejudiced or anything like that. It just is.

** I suspect this part is urban legend as I’ve heard this bit before. Mind you, there is a semi-wrecked and dismantled car sitting in the back yard…



  1. Hmmmm, maybe I’ve lived in the city too long. If somebody was waking me up at night hauling things in and out,the first thing I’d think is they were up to no good. If you can’t do it in the daylight, you shouldn’t be doing it. Of course, being married to a cop for twenty years might have something to do with it, too.

  2. I guess you guys don’t have a neighborhood watch program.

  3. @ silverstar and UK,

    The funny thing is I’ve known ever since moving here that rural property crime is higher because we are so close to a large city. And there are neighbourhood watches set up, although they focus more on the acreage subdivisions.

    I have been a “keen” observer and scrutinize strange vehicles that drive slowly down our streets and alleys.

    What threw me, I think, was the fact that the alleged thieves were living here. I just didn’t expect that the foxes would be so bold as to actually move in and occupy the henhouse, if you know what I mean.

  4. weren’t they operating a meth lab out the back as well?

    sheesh! must be amateurs 🙂

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