Unbelievably stupid

If I had never driven through Indiana towards points east, I would probably be unaware that there even is a College Football Hall of Fame. But it does not surprise me at all that it can be found in South Bend, Indiana, since it is the the home of Notre Dame, Knute Rockne, the Four Horsemen, Touchdown Jesus, and all of that. Where else could such a place exist? (They’re moving it to Atlanta in two years’ time, but that’s beside the point here).

The story I came across today, four days after the fact, is that somebody over the weekend stole a sprinkler fitting from the Hall of Fame’s grounds. It was made of brass, which makes it worth something more than an everyday piece of metal. For what it’s worth, the downspout was stolen off the side of my house a few years back for that very reason.

The theft of this piece of brass set off a chain of events where water flowed back into the pipe, and the result was two inches of water in the basement, where many irreplaceable items were stored and presumably destroyed. When water meets paper, the paper always loses. And that goes for drywall, too.

No particular losses were mentioned, and I can only imagine what sort of artifacts and records must have been kept there. But that’s why the basement of my house–which was a Prohibition speakeasy and could be a really nice place–contains nothing of any value. Not only do thieves always come in through the basement widows, but water gets inside on a regular basis when it rains. It wasn’t rain in this case, but waterlogged drywall can’t really tell the difference, either.

The fool who committed this theft may have a hand in several other thefts in the South Bend area. It certainly stands to reason that if you know what you’re looking for, stealing one of these things isn’t terribly difficult. In the wake of these thefts, most likely, the insurance pays what they pay, the property owner pays the deductible, and everybody moves on as quickly as they can. But this is not so when irreplaceable artifacts are concerned.  Those are just gone forever.

Times are bad, but there has to be an honest way that  somebody can make the $5 that they would get by selling this piece for scrap. And whoever caused this will probably never be found, unless there is some surveillance camera or an eyewitness comes forward. There likely won’t be any closure in this sense, either, because the piece will probably be sold (if it hasn’t been already), and the perpetrators are moving on to locating the next thing they can steal. But several pieces of history are gone, and nothing can be done to bring them back.

Nobody died in this event, and I’m not suggesting that there aren’t more important things to get worked up over.  In Chicago earlier this year, a church deacon was pushed down a flight of stairs and killed when someone stole her iPhone. The thief in that case was caught, and will probably go away for a long time to eat and be sheltered on the taxpayers’ dime. But that won’t bring the deacon back, no more than fines or imprisonment will restore the materials lost in the Hall of Fame last weekend.

My point is simply that petty crimes like this can have major consequences, and we all have to bear the costs, either directly or indirectly. Human nature can be a real bummer sometimes.

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