Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a large number of leaves and “helicopter seeds” falling like confetti next to our garage.
At first, I thought my neighbor was trimming the maple tree overhanging our yards – he does this occasionally. I went to the door, and saw a man climbing up to stand on our gate. “If you wait a second, I can open the gate so you can trim the tree,” I hollered – “Please don’t climb on the gate, it’s not very sturdy!”
As I opened the back door, the guy, who was very tall and wearing a golden yellow long sleeved shirt, tan fishing hat and khaki pants, began to run. The copper gutter on the side of the garage was dangling, twisted and half-way detached.
Then I realized what was going on.
“Hey! I saw what you just did! You’re trying to steal my gutters!”
My kids all ran in front of me, screaming and blocking my path. I (eek!) pushed them out of my way to chase after the guy. I rounded the corner to the alley and saw the thief get into his car and drive away. It was a gray sedan with a Pennsylvania plate ending in the numbers “131”. In the left corner of the back window was a temporary paper license plate. There was also a small “lookout” car, – perhaps a Ford Focus hatchback – black, with highly polished chrome.
This happened in the middle of the day – at 2pm.
My elderly neighbor said she had seen the the black car yesterday. It had been parked next to our garage in they alley, and the driver was standing on the side of our garage looking up at our gutters. She assumed he was going to do some work on our house. (In a way she was right – work, but not in the honest sense of the word!) In other words, this theft was planned.
I called the police and a very nice police woman named Shannon came out to write up the report. The downspouts had been stolen, and the remaining gutters were ruined. Shannon even took an interest in the children’s toys they wanted to show her. She didn’t freak out that Thomas was firing his empty cap gun into the air (the ONE thing I told him not to do – show off his “weapons” !) :)
After Officer Shannon left, the kids and I stood in the kitchen and prayed for the copper thieves. We prayed that they would be caught and that they would be repentant. We prayed that if they had financial needs that the Lord would meet them – because God never puts us in a situation where we are forced to yield to the temptation of sin in order for our needs to be met (1 Corinthians 10:13). We prayed that God would be glorified in the situation.
Our neighbor, Scott, climbed our ladder and helped me take down the dangling gutter so that no one would get injured attempting a Tarzan-swing.
After tucking the younger three children in for a nap, I called the scrap yards in our area. I gave them a description of the vehicles and the thief who pulled down the gutter in case they try to unload my downspouts. The owners of the scrap yards made sure I had the numbers of their colleagues at the other scrap yards in town – they’re all friends. They are now on the lookout for the vehicles fitting those descriptions. If the thieves showed up, the scrap yard owners said they’d keep them occupied and would call the police.