Saturday, 17 March 2012

Crime-Free Zone

One things we love about living here is the total lack of crime. We have been away on holiday and forgotten to lock our doors and indeed we have some friends who didn’t have any locks on their doors at all for the first five years they lived here, they only went out to buy some locks when they were going away for a month and thought it prudent not to leave the house open for that long ! We don’t have a policeman in town and we rarely see the boys in blue, except when they set up a speed trap by the chestnut tree. So imagine our surprise when we saw three policemen, two police cars, a security agent (identified by the word SÉCURITÉ in huge letters written on his back), a security agent’s car and lots and lots of people milling around late on Tuesday afternoon.

We were on our way to the library where Mlle B, the mayor’s secretary, manages the town’s motley collection of books. So we asked about the heavy police presence in town. Mlle B looked baffled, this is not an unusual reaction from her, we do seem to cause more than our fair share of confusion for her and the other town hall workers by asking weird questions. Fortunately the deputy mayor was there and he chipped in, quite disappointed that Mlle B did not know about the hottest gossip in town in the last two hundred years. Some one had tried to rob the new bank machine, the previous night.

The bank machine is Cormatin’s pride and joy, or should I say the mayor’s pride and joy, as he had been trying to get one installed in town for the last 10 years and finally succeeded just two years ago. We were all so proud of this achievement that a party and opening ceremony was held in its honour, with a representative from the French government in attendance, yes it was THAT big an event.

Anyway, the bank machine is installed in the wall of the town hall and the money is held in a locked room where the town jail used to be (maybe there was crime around here once upon a time). The town hall is in a relatively uninhabited part of town, except for Monsieur M, the recently retired Guard Champetre, who lives in a flat above the town hall itself. He was woken up at about 1 am by the sound of an angle grinder, he looked out of his window and saw some guys trying to break into the bank machine, he called the gendarmes, but the thieves escaped empty-handed (in a dark coloured car) before they arrived.

For whatever reason the bank were not been able to remove the money from the machine on Tuesday or Wednesday and only managed to send someone to empty the machine about mid-day Thursday. So what do you do if you have thousands of Euros in a damaged bank machine in the criminal capital of Burgundy? Yes that’s right, you put a plastic garden chair next to the machine and you hire someone to sit there day and night, with SÉCURITÉ written in big letters on his back, just in case the bad guys come back. If the security guard needs to go and have lunch or just to stretch his legs, what does he do? He leaves the chair and the thousands of Euros unattended and un-amazingly they are still there when he gets back. I love this town.

La Tuilerie Website

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