Who's up to What? Dept.
From Saturday 20th October until Thursday 25th October 2001, I was staying with a friend at St. Peter's Port, Guernsey. I returned to my flat in Weymouth shortly before 1930 hrs.
Whenever I am away for three or more consecutive days, I notify my local neighbourhood watch coordinator and the Police, giving them details of how I can be contacted in the event of an emergency - for example, a burglary. This procedure was followed shortly before travelling to Guernsey.
My immediate neighbour heard somebody in my flat between 0930 hrs and 1130 hrs on Thursday 25th October and assumed that I had returned home: he knew I was away until that day but did not realise I was due back in the evening. So, as far as he was concerned, nothing abnormal had occurred. It was not until the following day, during a conversation with him, that we both realised something suspicious had taken place.
When I arrived home on Thursday evening, I sensed something was not "quite right" but failed to establish the cause of my unease. After talking with my neighbour, I realised that my computer plug - as always, removed from the wall-socket when not in use - was not in the position I had left it prior to visiting Guernsey.
People who know me say that I am very pernickety. Indeed, an understatement! Attention to detail, coupled with a good memory, are of paramount importance to my methodology.
As far as my flat was concerned, there were NO signs of forced entry and NOTHING material was stolen. Therefore, it was the computer data which probably concerned the intruder. It would be easy to access the hard disc, locate the desired information, copy it onto a "floppy," shut down the computer and leave. Gaining entry to my premises required nothing more elaborate than a set of skeleton keys!
I reported the incident (minus suspicions about computer data theft) to my neighbourhood watch coordinator and the police. Only they knew the details of when I was due back. In other words, ONLY they knew FOR CERTAIN that I would not be at home on the morning of Thursday 25th October.
As far as I am concerned, my immediate neighbour and the neighbourhood watch coordinator have the highest integrity. I would like to say the same for the police, but am less certain now.
My reputation for taking officialdom to task through the medium of satire, backed up with an accurate knowledge of how Westminster/Whitehall operates, may have prompted the Security Services to visit my flat whilst absent. The police would have no choice but to assist them by ensuring that my reporting of the incident was not to be followed up - at least, officially.
A piece of advice to intelligence personnel: small communities are "closely-knit". Abberations to activities of daily living within these groupings stick out like proverbial sore thumbs. Take care: you have been noticed!
To conclude, the articles, especially concerning the Foot-and-Mouth epidemic of 2001 (a national disgrace), will continue and my policy of informing the police where I am when away from home will need to be reconsidered.
MARK BROOK: 29th OCTOBER 2001.
Editor's Note: The foregoing is true. Only the names have been changed.