Two years, ago my wife and I came home from a weeknight date to find that our
home had been burglarized. The burglars had taken our new TV and a laptop
computer. They used a shovel to enter our back door and to remove our TV from
the wall, putting a large hole in the drywall. When we walked into the home, the
back door was wide open and there was glass on the floor from a broken picture
frame. Over the next few days, two agencies became involved in the situation at
our request, both of which were paid by us, in advance, to help resolve such
The first agency was the local police department. We called them immediately after discovering the burglary. The dispatcher asked if we would like for a police officer to come to our home or if we wanted to file a report over the phone. We asked them to send someone as soon as possible, if for no other reason than to provide a reassuring presence.
Nobody arrived for over an hour. We live in a quiet suburban neighborhood, not some inner city war zone. The police department is just a few miles from our home.
The officer explained that it was unlikely that our property would ever be retrieved
and that our best chance at recovering it would be to call the local pawn shops. He gave us a case number, a business card (which claimed that he was a detective), and a receipt. He asked us to call him if we came across any new information, and left.
The next morning, we called the second agency, our insurance company. We explained what had happened and gave a brief description of the damage and missing items. We were given a preliminary estimate and the woman said that she would send us a claim form to get the exact details and a final claim amount. She also had a check for about half the estimated amount sent overnight to us for the purpose of having our wall
A few days later, we discovered some unusual charges on our bank account. We had changed all our passwords the night of the burglary, but had forgotten to change our iTunes password, and someone had used the account to purchase several songs. We realized that the police could get the IP address used to purchase the songs from Apple, and then they could call on the ISP which used the IP number to get an exact location for the computer at the time of the purchase. Of course, it could have been at a coffee shop, but it also could have been at the home of the burglars.
These purchases offered a very good chance of recovering our stolen property. So I immediately called the ‘detective’ and explained to him what had happened and how he could use that information to possibly catch the burglars. When I finished talking, there was a long pause on the line, and then the ‘detective’ said, “It’s hard to get
out-of-state companies to cooperate.”
I asked if that meant that he wasn’t going to take any action and he said, “That’s right.” I was quite surprised that he didn’t even pretend that he was going to do anything. I was
speechless. The call ended and that was the last time I ever spoke to him. Approximately two weeks after the burglary, our insurance company finalized the
claim and sent us a check for the remaining amount, which was a little more than
what was required to repair all the damage and replace our stolen property. We
were able to purchase a slightly better laptop computer than the one which had
been stolen. A few days afterward, we received the final phone call from the insurance company, wishing us well, thanking us for doing business with them, and offering to help us with anything else that we might require.
Both of these agencies receive regular payments from us. The local police agency is
paid in part by our property taxes, which are taken from us whether or not we
wish to pay. If we do not pay, men with guns will come to our home and forcibly
remove us, take possession of our home, and throw my family out into the street.
The insurance company receives our money with our consent. We believe that their services are worth paying for, and if, at any time, we decided we no longer wished to pay, we could immediately stop sending them our money. No threats, no guns, no violence. Our relationship with the insurance company is purely consensual, and the consensual and reciprocal nature of the relationship shows in our experience. One of these agencies wasted our time and money and committed injustice by threatening us. The other made us whole (as far as is possible), and gave us the only thing that might be called justice in the whole situation. They did so without force, threats, or any kind of coercion. At no time did I worry about doing business with them. I never feared that one of their representatives would do violence to me or to my property.
The same cannot be said for the State’s law enforcement agency.