Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Butt Can

In the state where I live, people can’t smoke in public buildings. This is The Butt Can in the parking lot where I work; I just noticed the cable lock this week. Would someone really want to steal this?

Outside magazine this month (with a hideous swimming suit on the cover which looks like a collection of crisscrossed red cargo straps that should be flung into an active volcano, preferably Orodruin), had an article, Who Pinched My Ride?, written by Patrick Symmes, whose cable lock-tethered bicycle was stolen in broad daylight on a teeming sidewalk in NYC and caught on a surveillance video, although to his distress the thieves were never caught. It chronicles, in his attempts to get his bicycle back, his investigation into the largely unexplored underworld of bike and bike parts theft, resale of purloined bicycles, and the powerlessness of police to combat the matter. 

Not that the police intentionally ignore bicycle thefts, Symmes indicated that some do because there are more important, more serious crimes – where the greatest effort and budget are necessarily devoted. But some, almost as one riders themselves, engage in the battle with little success. In all, Symmes sacrificed maybe six bikes in his pursuit; he even purchased one of dubious repute, and left a couple out just to see what their fate would be. (In an aside, we visited Japan last year and saw thousands of bicycles wherever they could be parked, nary a lock on them). The conclusion was that hundreds of thousands of bikes are stolen each year, sold whole or as parts, a majority by drug users looking for quick cash in a rather lucrative market, and that very few are arrested and fewer prosecuted. Larger stolen possessions and more dangerous offenders are easier to locate and convict.

Oddly, the same day I read a piece in Travel and Leisure about the rising, unbridled theft of valuables and money from travelers’ luggage by TSA agents. Lest this turn into a rant, suffice to say that these stouthearted warriors who often disdainfully herd passengers through airport checkpoints and x-ray their belongings also rifle through their unmentionables and steal from them. Stuff that is undeniably worth stealing.

That said, bikes and luggage contents I understand. My question is, this butt can has to be secured against theft? Is this an attractive object to sit out as yard decor (the best account of sitting-out-in-the-yard-shit I’ve read or this) or a tacit hint to guests that smoking is not allowed inside the house? A desirable item to resell on eBay? – “Excellent used condition…” Actually, it’s a better candidate for Regretsy.


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