Last Saturday (12/3/11), I needed to work late and didn’t get home until after midnight. Before I pulled into my driveway, I stopped in front of my mailbox to get the mail. As soon as I’d stepped out of my vehicle to go around to open the mailbox, a man and a large dog on a harness and leash stepped out onto the street directly in front of me from a dark, brushy area of my property just west of the top of the drive. (From where they stepped out, the man and his dog had to have been trespassing on my property.) Of course this startled and frightened me, especially when I realized they were coming toward me. However, as soon as the man was sure I’d seen him, he and the dog quickly turned around and hurried off in the opposite direction. All I could see of him in the dim light was that he was youngish (20-40), had dark hair and a medium athletic build, and was probably Caucasian. He had clearly known I was coming, since he had lain in wait for me, but because it was cold out and he’d had on only a light jacket, I doubt he’d been waiting there long.
Overnight, it rained a bit off and on. The next morning (Sunday) when I went out to get the newspaper, I discovered someone had poked several holes in the plastic bag covering our paper in order to try to ruin it with water damage (see photos below). Fortunately, heavier rain held off until just after I’d retrieved the paper, so this attempt failed.
Then, around noon on the same day (12/4/11), we were startled by someone ringing our doorbell twenty or more times in rapid succession. I went to the front door and saw two local police officers, one male and one female. The female officer laughingly told me through the door that one of our cows had gotten loose and that I needed to get it back inside our fence; the male officer was also grinning from ear to ear. I told her that we’ve had a lot of trouble with people letting our livestock out in various ways over the years (picking, cutting or breaking the locks on our gates; cutting holes in our fences; etc.) and that I’d be right out to retrieve the cow. It was cold, wet, and muddy, and I needed to change clothes, which I did quickly. I also grabbed a bucket of feed from the garage.
I easily lured the cow along the outside of my fence and then down the street and into the gate to our pasture, despite the many additional police officers who’d suddenly showed up first blocking my path with one of their patrol cars and then repeatedly letting vehicles pass, despite their promise to temporarily close the street to traffic while the cow and I had to be in it for a short distance (which took us less than five minutes total).
After the officers left, I began walking the fence line along the western side of my property, since that side was where the escaped cow had been found. Sure enough, I soon found a place where my fence had been cut and then folded inward (NOT outward, as an escaping animal would have left it!). I photographed the damage with the camera on my cell phone and sent the photos to various places for safekeeping.
I then called the law enforcement dispatcher and asked them to send someone back to take a police report. During this call, I made it very clear to her that the responding officer/s needed to walk the short distance down my western fence line from the street and meet me at the location where the damage was, because I could not leave a hole in my fence of that size unattended for long. However, a few minutes later, I heard the loud approaching wail of a police siren as a patrol car sped up to the front of our house. The siren was then turned off, but a few minutes later, I could see a patrol car driving slowly up and down our street, so I called the dispatcher back and repeated my message that the officers would have to park and walk the short distance down the hill to where I was.
Five or ten minutes later, the same male and female officers who’d come to my door arrived to look at the damaged fence. The male officer tried to tell me that some of the broken ends of fencing had rust on them and that this indicated an old break the cow had simply escaped through; both officers also noted that there were no footprints in the mud other than the cow’s. I showed them many other places where the fence wires had been recently and cleanly cut, some of which even had shear and tool marks on them, and I then pointed out barbed wire strands over the top of the nine-foot high fence, which had also clearly been cut, and remarked that the cow would not have been able to reach that high. I did agree that the fencing at that spot looked like it had been tampered with repeatedly over a long period of time, and I reminded the officers about the serious trespassing problems we’ve had on our property for years: people leaving trash, partying, shooting rockets and guns, breaking into our barn, and more.
At that point, the officer did admit that someone had cut our fence. They agreed to file a police report, but I did not see them take any photographs.
After they left, I put some wood in the opening to lock it temporarily and went back to the house for supplies. I then took additional photos of the damage with my camera (see below) and then wired the hole closed with wire and wire cutters. While I was doing this, I noticed that someone had left a golf ball next to the hole in the fence (see photo) and another one nearby on my side of the fence (see photo). [For many years, we’ve had problems with trespassers leaving trails of golf balls on our property to let us know they’d been there. I’ve discussed this problem in previous posts on this blog.]
Later that day, I decided I’d better check our entire fence line for damage. I was almost back to the house when I discovered a second large hole that had been cut in our fence. This other hole was on the opposite (east) side of our property. It was smaller and lower than the hole on the other side—not big enough for a cow to escape through, but easily big enough to admit a dog of the size I’d seen with the man the night before, or even a person, if they stooped down. This second hole had to have been cut very recently: there were clear cutting marks on the strands, there was no rust on any of the cuts, the cuts were even and aligned with each other, and the cut portion of the fence had been folded inward, not outward. This second hole in the fence was located directly behind a very recently built medical office building (to hide it from view from the nearby street, which runs along my property on that side, but it’s also important to note that anyone coming to this office building, and particularly anyone using their parking lot, would have been able to easily see this cut-out hole in my fence).
Again, I photographed the damage with my cell phone camera and sent the pictures off for safekeeping. I then called law enforcement again and asked them to send someone out to make another report. I was told someone would be coming, but that it might take them twenty or thirty minutes to arrive because they were busy. I told the dispatcher I would wait for the police behind the office building, where the damage was, even though the sun was setting and it would be completely dark by the time the police got there. While I waited, I took photographs with my regular camera as shown below. The entire time I was waiting, it was cold, windy, and raining lightly, and there was a heavy and steady stream of vehicles driving by me repeatedly out on the street, which normally doesn’t have much traffic at that time of day.
Eventually, a lone male police officer arrived and apologized for having taken so long to get there (he said local law enforcement was very busy with a case where someone had committed suicide!). This time, the officer immediately admitted the damage to our fence was both very recent and definitely criminal. He took some flash photographs this time, and he also used my wire and cutters to help me wire the hole closed, while I held a flashlight so he could see. After the repair was completed, I asked his permission to cut through the office parking lot so I could walk the short distance home along the street and under the streetlights, instead of having to stumble through my pasture in the dark. He offered to give me a ride home, but I told him I wanted to walk some of the mud off my shoes and would be fine.
Last night, I had to work very late again. As I was driving home alone along Hwy 87 between Comfort and Fredericksburg well after midnight, a local ambulance suddenly appeared behind me with both its internal and external regular (white) lights on. It began to tailgate my vehicle very aggressively, and it kept this up for at least five miles (and probably more). At no time did this ambulance ever turn on its colored lights, horn, or siren, and its driver could have driven around me at any time (there were many legal passing places and no other vehicles on the highway) but did not do so. Having this large vehicle, so brightly lit from inside, driving so close to my rear bumper was very frightening to me. I slowed down and kept waiting for the ambulance to pass me at one of the marked passing zones, but it didn’t. I moved into the right-hand lane at the next place where the road widened into two lanes on my side. To my relief, the ambulance finally passed me, but as soon as it did so, someone switched off the interior lights before it went speeding off.
When I got home, I discovered that someone had stolen my local (weekly) newspaper from my front yard. And most of our favorite channels (including CNN and HLN) have suddenly and selectively disappeared from our cable television, and the company can’t seem to fix the problem after a week of trying. As I’ve been sitting here typing this, I’ve received a hang-up phone call, and someone has somehow been repeatedly disabling the port my computer mouse is using, forcing me to move it to various other ones. Unbelievable!