Why is our society infatuated with crime? Why are the majority of best selling books, popular movies and television shows about crime? Why are criminals often the people we root for? Why are the police often portrayed as unintelligent, while the criminals are clever and smart?
Whether it is murder, theft or kidnapping, American people seem to crave stories about it. The more details the better. The gorier the better. The harder to solve the better.
If I write a new book telling the story of our adventurous move out of our old house, would you want to read about it? I can tell a true tale that is crime related, that I experienced, and that was never solved.
This is how it started. My husband and I, “Empty Nesters,” decided to sell the house we lived in for 31 years and downsize.
That’s a nightmare in itself: emptying the contents of an old family home, with all the stories and memories of our family growing up.
After dividing the possessions we would bring and those we would sacrifice to a house sale, we interviewed moving companies.
The one we eventually chose was represented by a well dressed young man who owned “Man With A Van”. “Our moving crew is a group of men who are all legal, well trained, and have been employees of ours for at least ten years.”
That is impressive. These guys are professionals; they are reliable; they’ll treat our valuables with care, we thought.
A friend asked us, “Did you ever investigate his claims about the length of time the crew worked for him?” .
“No, we did not,” we answered with a tinge of guilt.
“Is your thinking that if you are an honest person you assume others are honest too?”.
Bad assumption. Trusting without verifying is dangerous to the bank account, now I realize.
“Did you mark and label every item going into each carton, and number those cartons,” my friend asked? “Did you have an inventory list of the house’s contents?”
“No. The last time we relocated, it was from our army post, and the United States Army moved us. We never made inventory lists, and everything worked out perfectly.”
Leaving our long time family home was traumatic enough, without labeling and accounting for every item we packed.
Once we were in the new house we didn’t realize it right away.
“It has to be here somewhere,” was our reaction when something we couldn’t find was missing.
But when it came time to hang the paintings we brought from the old house, suddenly the panic hit.
“The precious painting we bought in Paris is not here!” The beautiful still life with the glorious, vital colors. We couldn’t believe it was possible.
“How could moving men walk off with an original oil painting and hope to get away with it?”
It turned out that the Paris purchase was not the only painting missing.
“Have you seen the two charming decoupaged baby dresses from the Lambertville gallery? Where are the lithographs and woodcuts that were the first art we ever collected?”
This was no coincidence. This was no mistake. This was outright, purposeful theft.
“Oh, no,” my husband shouted. “My collection of coins is missing too. Some of those coins were gold coins, worth a fortune now. I told the men not to touch that box. I told them I would carry it myself.”
We found out later, from the detective assigned to our case, that the moving company had lied to us from the first interview. “The group of men who were assigned to move your things had not worked for the company ten years. Ten days would probably be more accurate. Perhaps they were workers picked up in town, where men stand each morning looking for a day’s work. There’s no way to find these men now,” the detective said. “They move from one place to another without leaving forwarding addresses. And there’s no way to prove anything, ever if we caught them.”
Enjoy your crime novels, friends. I know that real crime is not entertaining. I can’t understand why anybody thinks it is.