We thought we were safe, we thought we were very safe. But it turns out that living in a reasonably quiet residential area on the outskirts of Sevilla is on par with the level of safety in the Latin Kings district in Madrid.
The only sign of violence or bad feeling in our first year here has been the sparrows fighting in the nispero tree. So I’m still a bit miffed about what happened last weekend in the early hours of Saturday morning.
So there I was, dribbling on my pillow with one leg hanging out the duvet thanks to the sudden rise in temperature, when I heard my wife shouting.
“Babe, babe, tu bici.”
It took me far longer than it should have done to register what bici meant. Then when I realised my wife was talking about my bike, while holding our daughter in her arms, I freaked out.
“What do you mean? My bici.”
“Your bike, it’s gone.”
“Gone, but…” I stared out the window, trying to catch a glimpse of my, or actually my work’s bici. But no matter how hard I strained my neck, I couldn’t see the corner of the patio.
My natural instinct was to run, so that’s what I did. I ran downstairs to the end of the hall, put on my shoes, then ran out into the patio. My wife had been right, there was no sign of my bici, just the lock, which had been resting on the handlebars, lying on the floor.
“The bastards,” I muttered, running for the outside door. I unlocked it and went to run out.
“Aren’t you going to put some clothes on?” my wife called out, still with our baby in her arms. I looked down at my pale legs and suddenly felt the cold. Yes, running around the streets at 3am in just my boxers was probably not the best way to track down possible thieves. If any police were about then I’d be the one getting arrested. So I sprinted in, got on some trousers and a jacket, and darted up the road, probably in the completely opposite direction to where the scumbags had gone.
As I wandered round I realised that there was about as much chance of catching these dickheads as there was about seeing my wonderful bike again. That familiar feeling of having my bike nicked struck my memory chords (if such a thing exists).
I thought back to the two other times I had a bike nicked. Once when I was about 17. I pulled up at the papershop to pick up my usual delivery, was inside for about a minute, and when I came out my prized possession yellow Claud Butler was gone. I wasn’t sure if to be more worried about delivering my papers on time, or my Dad’s reaction when I got home. Turned out it was my dad’s reaction, plus his punishment. For the next year I had to do my paper round on my sister’s pink mountain bike (yes, you did the maths right; I was still 18 when I did a paper round).
The second bike I had nicked was in Sevilla. It was only 40 euros, picked up at the Charco de la Pava (a dodgy gypsy market) during my first month in Sevilla. It was stolen while I was watching a Sevilla v Betis game in an Irish bar a few years ago. I thought it was safely locked to a road sign, but some scallywags unscrewed the top of the sign and lifted it over the pole.
The latest one hurts most though. Not only because it wasn’t my bike and I felt guilty for having it nicked, but mainly because it was stolen from my own property, which means it’s not as safe here as we thought. We’re not sure whether these gypos got lucky, or they had been planning an attack for a while.
To be fair the police were quite efficient. My wife called up as soon as I’d got back from my little 3am jog. Two different couples of policemen visited us. One while we were still up, and awake, and another while we were both back in bed, an hour later. The second one bought the biggest surprise though.
After a quick chat with them, one disappeared into the overgrown bush in front of our house, and screamed out that he’d found my bike. Genius, I thought, why hadn’t I checked the bushes just in front of my house? I was part relieved to see that it wasn’t my bike that he’d found, just for my own sanity and pride, but another one probably left by the same thieves as they’d preferred mine. Then the policeman asked us if we could store the bike in our house till the next day. We agreed, and went back to bed, it was then 5am.
The next morning the sinking feeling set in. We’d been robbed, from our house, and the scumbags had gotten away with it. I felt sick and down. The funny thing was that as I was reporting the incident to the local police, on the desk next to me was the woman whose bike was in my house.
The most annoying thing is that neither I nor my company were covered by the insurance, so they got away with it.
I was told by the police that if I wanted my bike back then I’d probably find it down at Charco de la Pava (the same place where I’d bought that first bike). All I had to do was find it, then call the police and show them the report I’d just given, but I didn’t want any long term enemies, so I just left it.
We are on full alert now, when I get my new bike it will be safely locked, and we’re getting an additional camera fitted outside. It seems a bit stupid that between our expensive alarm system (almost 50 a month) and house insurance (30 a month) there’s nothing we can get back. But I guess that’s my fault for being so trusting.
Has this happened to you? Have you had your bike nicked, or house robbed? How safe is the area where you live in Spain? Would you have kept running in your underwear or turned back to get some clothes?