When I was growing up, I wasn’t exactly a bad lad. Sure, I got into a few scrapes and I might have given the police reason to scribble my name down in their book every now and then but I was fairly well behaved. On the whole, anyway. So when my mum answered the door to a couple of coppers who were wanting to talk about yours truly, she was beyond concerned.
Anyone that’s ever watched any TV drama programs will know that when two uniformed officers knock on a sweet old ladies front door, they’ve almost always got bad news. My mum would probably stab me if she heard me calling her an old lady; as it happens, this was about 15 years ago, so she would have only been in her 40s anyway. But that’s besides the point. The point I’m making is that when two officers knock on your door, with stern faces, asking when the last time you saw your son was, you automatically think the very worst.
So you can imagine my mums joy when they told her why they were really there. She was certainly pleased they hadn’t come to tell her that I’d perished, anyway. In fact, they’d come to tell her they were looking for me, and that they wanted to arrest me.
I was about 16 or 17 at the time, and on the weekend in question I was away racing; Donington Park if memory serves me. When my mum told the nice police officers that’s what I was doing, they told her that my motorcycling antics were exactly what they wanted to talk to me about.
You see, they had reason to believe that myself and a friend (I think they called it an accomplice) had ridden my Aprilia RS50 into the middle of the Asda supermarket at the rough end of town, frightened a load of old biddies, knocked a load of stuff onto the floor and just generally caused a bit of havoc.
My mum, bless her, didn’t really think that was the type of thing her sweet little Michael would do. She also thought it was fairly unlikely to be me riding the bike, since it’d been stolen (and reported stolen) a good week before the Asda joyriding episode. That’s not to mention the fact that I was a few hundred miles away going round in circles at Donington.
Anyway, my mother sent them away, telling them I wasn’t in. She said that there’s obviously some mistake anyway, as the bike was reported stolen at least a week ago.
At this point in the story, you’re maybe assuming that when they’d seen the scallies on my bike and tapped the reg into their system, they’d accidentally bypassed the bit that said REPORTED STOLEN, and gone straight to my name and address. A bit of sloppy police work, but not the end of the world. I, for one, would have been able to forgive that.
But it didn’t end there.
Because as far as the police were concerned, my little RS50 wasn’t down as stolen. We found out later that thanks to a clerical error at their side the ‘stolen report’ (or whatever it’s called on their system) had been cancelled, almost as soon as it was made. So in the meantime, despite my mother temporarily pacifying the officers, they were still after me. To them, I was public enemy number one. Wanted, dead or alive.
So a day or two later, after they’d been shoed away by my mother, they went and knocked on my dad’s door to try their luck there. I can’t remember where I was at this point, but I wasn’t at my dad’s house. Now, not many of you will know this, but my father, despite his many and varied qualities, isn’t as polite as my mother. Especially when it comes to conversing with members of the constabulary.
When they tried it on with my old man, it was a different story. He told them that they ought to check their system and they’ll see the bike’s been nicked. Obviously it wasn’t me that tore Asda up. I can’t vouch for his exact words, or tone of voice, but suffice to say he bagged himself an official police caution. And I’ve heard since, from more than one of his neighbours, that the police looked fairly close to just arresting him and having done with it.
Thankfully, for me, the altercation with my old man made them double check their records; at which point they noticed that the bike had indeed been reported stolen. They called off the search and let me off the hook. In fact during the whole debacle, they never did catch up with me. They just bounced between my parents houses, hoping to get lucky.
So my advice to any teenagers who get their bike nicked by joyriders is this; make sure the police definitely know you’re bike’s been nicked; make sure you’re not in when they come to arrest you; and when they do, and they don’t believe your mum when she tells them it’s been nicked, just get your dad to kick off at them. That should do the trick.
And in case anyone is wondering, this story didn’t really have a happy ending. My beloved little Aprilia RS50 was never found – or if it was, I didn’t get it back. On the plus side, at least I didn’t have to serve any jail time!