I think I had heard of Mate Crime, but not until this week did I really know what it is – thanks to my mate Befuddled Mum for explaining it to me. Mate Crime is where vulnerable people are used, abused, and / or exploited.
Trafford Clinical Commissioning Group say:
- “Many vulnerable adults have few friends, and for some vulnerable people, having any friends is better than no friends at all. Mate crime centres around issues of self-belief and self-worth in the vulnerable person. Vulnerable people will often think it’s all right for people to walk all over them, because that’s what’s happened to them the whole of their lives.”
Last week £40 of £2 coins went from a savings jar in the cupboard in the lounge. I asked both boys, they knew nothing.
I know Tom has been having people round when we go out – he refuses to come with us, preferring to go out with his mates. I have insisted he does not allow people in to the house whilst we are out.
At the weekend James and I were going out, I decided to leave a webcam on in the lounge to see what goes on. The camera is activated by movement. It has a memory card to record the videos. The camera was in full view on the cabinet. The cabinet has the money-box on it, but also keepsakes and family ornaments behind glass doors. There are a couple of drawers for “stuff” – we all have them! Then there are two cupboards at the bottom, with table cloths and dinner mats.
When we got home the camera was moved and the memory card had gone. Tom was meant to be home at the same time as us. He did not return until an hour and half later. He was extremely angry on his return. He had no idea where the memory card had gone etc . Later I went down to tell him to go to bed, he wouldn’t. I asked about the memory card and said I hoped he found it as he would have to pay for a new one. He shouted it was on the kitchen table – that’s the first thing, why let me have it back?
I loaded the memory card into the camera. I watched the videos – there were seven of them, two minutes long. Tom had a stream of lads into the house. Wandering around the lounge. Picking things up, then putting them back. Half way through looking at the videos, James came up to watch. Although annoying there were people coming in to the house, they were not actually doing anything wrong.
The last one video was different. It was in the dark, it showed two lads, torches from their phones glaring in the darkness. The lads were rummaging through the cupboard, opening the drawers and moving everything. One of the lads picked up the money-box, gave it a good shake and looked inside it. They went through the cupboard, picking things up. Tom appears in the back ground, wandering around the lounge.
I had put a small bag of change in a money bag for the milkman, it was tucked away behind some envelopes, that was found and the lad shouted “money!”. Tom wrestled with him to put the money back. Whilst they were wrestling the other lad videos them on his phone, laughing. Tom eventually gets up and walks away, the other lad counted the money in the bag. He then walked back to the cupboard and puts the bag back. The two lads then started looking in the bottom cupboard, they were looking for something. Tom looks over the back of the settee to watch what they are doing. It is at this point when Tom notices the camera, he panics, the other lads just laugh. The camera is turned over and the video ends.
I know my work bag has been gone through, it’s just by the cabinet usually. James says he knows someone has been in his bedroom. I don’t think anything was actually taken that night. I think the small bag of change still had the same money in.
I still wonder why Tom gave me the memory card back, knowing what might be on it.
I wish I could put the video on Facebook and tag them all in it. I wonder if their parents would be as shocked as I was. They look like they have done it before, they were using the torches on their phones.and they look like common thieves.
I wonder how much control Tom had in all this. I wonder if his friends are really his friends. He does not have many friends. Challenging the ones he has got would be impossible for him. Like the Meerkat that digresses with one misdemeanour, he could just be rejected and abandoned. Maybe to allow what they were doing; to conform, allows him to be accepted? Part of the crowd? So sad. I had guessed he was being used and taken advantage of, but this shocked and saddened me.
He stands alone in crowd. He stands in the middle, but on the outside. He so desperately wants to fit in, but he is out of his depth.
There is a part two to this, there always is. I need time to reflect, to absorb. To remind Tom how much he matters even if he can’t hear it yet.