Tuesday, January 17, 2006

It’s alright to get caught buying back what you’ve lost

This is old news worth commiserating about.

German buys back stolen camera on eBay (Reuters, 29/12/2005)

I don’t know what is so special about buying back stolen belongings. I thought that’s what pawn shops and court houses are for??? If anything, the headline should have been more like “Local Crooks Now Use the World Wide Web”. Then again, ebay is just a modern day pawn shop.

There have been a few occasions where I had to buy back what was stolen from me and I didn’t have to visit ebay for it instead I paid a visit to SomaliTerA (R.E.T: somalian district), a shabby quarter right in the heart of Addis. Before the city administration went on a frenzy of leasing prime land to possible developers and kicking out the original settlers, somalitera use to be the place to go for stolen goods, mostly automotive parts. There were stores lining up both sides of Teklehaimanot Road catering to all your needs…Toyota specialist, headlight specialties, rare cars specialists….you name it. The rule of thumb with a car theft is any part can get stolen except for the sound. Parts like the parking lights and side mirrors are a piece of a cake of a job. Unattended valuables on the back seat, like digital cameras are a treat no one could resist. Given more time and cover, your wheels, dashboard and front seats are hot items.

To my knowledge, no one wants to be a victim of theft. There is even a huge business that revolves around making every external part of a car theft proof. I ain’t taking high-tech gadgets here. The process involves putting stucco on screw heads; welding pieces together, wire meshing, basically anything to make the thieves life hard. This days car alarms are becoming more common, the problem is the alarm it self is a target commodity. The fact is there is no such thing as 100% theft proof car. No mater how safe my car is and how vigilant I am there is that one day I succumb to my own clumsiness.

Why didn’t I go to the law? For a few reasons. The simplest are; it’s my own bloody fault and I have no confidence in the justice system - it doesn’t matter where in the world. Here in Addis, the police will right out tell you that it’s wiser to settle it with out their intervention. The not so simple one; this is a line of employment by it self, the people that sell the stuff are not necessarily the thieves; they merely buy it for cheap from those who steal and sell it back to the rightful owner or some one with a similar need for a marginal profit. This is just another struggle for survival in a poor country. Even if I manage to get the police to intervene, it will do nothing but ruin my trust-rating for no good outcome.

Nowadays, Somalitera is nothing but a fenced off barren land with a future of becoming a site for a private hospital (the worst kinds of crooks) but the essence still remains. If you slow down your car on Tekelhaimanot Road, chances are there will be some one knocking your window to ask what you are looking for. If indeed you are in search of your belonging then they ask you when and were it was stolen, if you are lucky they advise you right then “meRkebu Gebtwal” (R.E.T. the vessel with your goods has arrived) then continue to the last remaining crook-land in Addis, American GeBi (R.E.T. American land). How ironic. If the vessel is running late they take your number, nine out of ten times, you will get a call with in 24 hours.

Ethiopian crooks haven’t discovered ebay-terA yet. Just incase they do let’s all keep checking for ‘Freedom’. It was stolen from us a while ago and we have been looking for it in all the wrong places.

1 Comments:

Blogger yekolotemari said...

Damn... I remember American Gebi from the most wonderful novel "Sedetegnaw". Funny how things have not changed...

11:34 AM  

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