Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Crack'eads

I live in a lovely Victorian apartment block in the centre of Brixton. I like Brixton, I have lived here for 30 years.

There is a bit of a drugs problem here, it has a long and chequered past, but the big issue at the moment is crack cocaine and specifically how the local police have recently shut down a bunch of crack dens. The people who come in to Brixton to buy their crack, need somewhere to take it away from the eyes of the Police, so in the last few weeks we have had a big rise in break in's to the lobby and hall area of our block.

These people get in, don't do any real harm, spend 2 minutes and go. But it freaks the bejesus out of everyone living here. The local Police say that the word has got around that you can get in here, but if you phone them when someone gets in they take 20 minutes, if they bother to come at all.

Monday: Paul reckons they can reach through the letterbox (the new doors we had fitted 6 months ago are all wrong!!) so Paul fits a sort of steel bracket he got from the local lock shop to make it more difficult.

Tuesday: Paul and Patrique reckon they can still reach through the letterbox, so they put a nasty piece of wood in the letter basket, tied in with bits of string and wire. What a mess but maybe it will help. I must replace it with something better.

Wednesday: The freak out day. About 5 or more incidents today. Paul has reached the end of his tether. He reckons someone must have keys, he demands new locks are fitted.

Thursday: Locksmith comes to fit a new barrel. £350. I (working from home) spend the whole day answering frantic phone calls, answering the door, taking the old keys from residents and doling out the new ones. Plus side, I meet some of the nice people who moved in recently, who I had not met yet. No work done today. With so much activity in the hall, someone actually sees two people get in. They just barged through the door, popping the lock open. So much for needing the lock barrel replaced!!!

Friday: Locksmith comes to fit a new electrically operated catch. £100. The old one was seriously worn down by repeated battering, that is why it was so easy to pop the door. Our lock catch was made by Ingersoll, don't buy one.
Meet our architect, we are planning to replace the roof and other stuff, he originally specified those doors. He saw what a problem we had, so he arranged to have a guy from a big lock company come around and give us a consultation.

Saturday morning: BASH !!!! Everyone out in the hall ...... We see two guys look guiltily up, "Sorry", "Can't we just stay for 2 minutes?", "NO, FECK OFF !!!!", we all shout. Damn, they can still get in if the hit the door REALLY HARD!!!!

Sunday: all quiet on the western front.

Monday: The lock guy arrived. Jeez, he looked like he spent his whole life in Kensington and Chelsea, not really up for Brixton, he looked freaked, ha ha ha ha !!! He recommended a different lock. He is sending a quote. I looked it up online and yes, it looks good. Don't think anyone got in today.

Tuesday: Someone smashed out the mail basket, which stopped people being able to reach through the letterbox to open the door, spent an hour and a half off work, putting it back properly, with metal fixings, feckwit carpenters had originally fixed it with little plastic clips (as well as fitting the letterbox to the wrong door!!!). Took off all the nasty bits of string and wire, re-fitted the plate decently, cut and fitted neatly a plate to stop anyone reaching a piece of wire through to open the catch. My poor employer, they have been very understanding.

Wednesday: 5.00 am, 2 crack'eads kicked their way through the front door, amazingly the police actually arrived fast enough to arrest them. Lock guy sent a mad quote. We will see if we can source this locally, a bit cheaper.

Locksmiths are coming again tomorrow to fit the new lock ....... who knows ....... all I know right now is that it will cost another £300. Some comedian suggested putting a coin-operated lock on the front door, then the crack'eads can pay us to use the place, yeah, thanks mate ;-)

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