Dixie Peach: Consequences of Nosiness

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Consequences of Nosiness

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Yeah, sorta cheating today. I didn't myself write the German you're about to read but I did do the translation on my own.

I came upstairs from fetching the mail this morning and plopped down on the sofa to read this to B:

Sehr geehrte Anwohnerin!

Sie wurden am heutigen Tage durch the Kriminalpolizei aufgesucht, jedoch nicht angetroffen.

In Zusammenhang einer Straftat vom 30.03.2007 wird eine Zeugin gesucht. Gegen 18.30 Uhr wurde auf der Straße vor Ihrem Haus ein PKW aufgebrochen und Sachen aus diesem entwendet. Hinweisen zu Folge soll eine Frau aus Ihrem Haus diese Straftat beobachtet und verantwortliche Personen gesehen haben.

Sofern Sie Hinweise geben können bitte ich Sie, sich mit mir telefonisch in Verbindung zu setzen. Ich bin tagsüber under der Rufnummer:

Für Ihre Mitarbeit bedanke ich mich im Voraus.

[Name of police officer lady]

Translation: Dear Resident (the grammar indicates that it addresses a female resident),

Today the police investigation division was seeking you but you weren't at home (Note: I was home all morning - no one rang or came to my door).

We are seeking a witness [the grammar indicates a female witness] to a crime committed March 30, 2007. At approximately 6:30pm on the street where your apartment building is located an automobile was broken into and articles were stolen. Subsequent clues indicated that a woman from your apartment building had observed this crime and the responsible people involved.

If you can give further clues I ask you to contact me by telephone. I can be reached during the day at this telephone number: blahblahblahblah.

For your cooperation I thank you in advance.

[Name of police officer lady]

Lead Criminal Investigator

Of course at this point B nearly stood up and walked. He got all freaked out that I'd seen some sort of auto break-in and didn't bother to tell him about it. Not the case at all - since it was just shoved into the mailbox without an envelope and since the police didn't actually ring by us I believe it was put in every mailbox in our building.

Immediately I thought that I would be no help at all because I haven't seen anyone break into any cars around here. I live in the main shopping area of Magdeburg and there are metered parking spaces on either side of the street. While I recognize the cars belonging to some of my neighbors, for the most part the cars here are those belonging to people here to shop or go to the theater or visit a local restaurant. Unless I saw someone with a slim jim popping the lock on a car door, there's no way I could tell if someone was breaking into a car and stealing from it or if they were doing something in their own car. Evidently I'm not the female witness the police are seeking.

Then I got to thinking about the letter a bit more. How did they know that a female may have seen the break-in? Someone must have seen a woman looking out her window at the street below - someone who saw the woman but didn't see the break-in itself. And this witness would have to be someone that could be seen in the window from the street which leaves out anyone on the higher floor - to see into the windows on the higher floors someone would have to stand way far away and then they likely wouldn't be able to see if the person in the window was male or female.

So who would the observers of the person thought to be a witness to the crime? Perhaps the police who showed up first on the scene. It could be they saw someone looking out of their window down at them and are now thinking that perhaps that same woman saw the break-in as well. Hmmm...well I do live on one of the lower levels of the building - I live three floors above the ground. It wouldn't be hard for someone standing on the other side of the street to look up and see me if I were standing in my kitchen window, which is the window I'd normally use to look outside because the curtains come only halfway down the window. But I haven't seen anything unusual going on. No break-ins that I can remember.

And then I remembered that some time ago I saw police outside our building and they were talking to a couple and the doors were open to a Mercedes parked across the street. I even remember telling B about it - that I thought someone must have tried to steal a car or steal something in the car because the car was there and there were three or four police cars around. I even remember watching a cop take fingerprints off the car.

Holy smokes! Maybe they think I'm that witness! Yikes!

Maybe I should call this investigator after all. I don't remember what date I saw the cops with the Mercedes - it could have been at the end of March but it could have been last fall for all I remember. I do know it must have not been during the winter because it would have been too dark to see anything like fingerprinting the car and I don't remember the people wearing winter coats. I never saw a break-in but if I'm the witness they believe may have information, I maybe should tell them that while I watched them doing their police thing, I never saw any actual crime and this investigative path is a dead end.

And here I was so close to being like I was on an episode of Law & Order - albeit a lame one.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, okay. My opinion/thoughts on this matter may hold more weight than the average persons by some scant milligrams only because I am, no kidding, in the middle of a grad level Criminal Profiling class, seriously!, about to take a mid-term.

My thoughts: First of all, excellent deduction! I like your attention to detail and I've only this MOMENT (swear!) been reading how important that is to criminal profiling. Although, I do have to mention, no one profiles car theives.

Okay, on to:

In German, is it standard practice to assume a gender when addressing an unknown population? Is it possible to simply leave gender references totally out as it is in English or do you HAVE to pick one or the other to make any sense?

If not, based on what you've described, I'd say they might well be aiming their letter at you, but if you don't have any information, no need to assume they meant you... just don't call if you don't have anything useful to tell them.

I'm disappointed though!!! I thought this was going to be about the bank robbery you didn't know was going on the other day. Heh! So much more exciting than petty theft. LOL!

3:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually "sehr geehrte Anwohner" translates to "dear residents", no hint of female resident. Otherwise it would be "Sehr geehrte Anwohnerin".

1:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Be careful this isn't some crimimal ring trying to find out who saw what. I'm a little paranoid. Was kind of letterhead was this on?


7:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your powers of deduction are formidable.

7:56 PM  
Blogger Dixie said...

Katy - The letter is aimed to female residents although it seems to me they probably stuck it in every mailbox in our building. They're looking specifically for a witness that is a woman.

Anon - Thank for the grammar tip however what you caught was a typo on my part as I was retyping the letter here. I got interrupted a dozen time while this blog entry and I didn't catch it in the proofreading. The original letter says "Sehr geehrte Anwohnerin".

Moll - I'm sure it's from the police. On the letter is their address, this investigator's office number, phone numbers, stamps, etc. It says in the letter although I didn't type it here that you'd have to give the room number and the investigator's name when calling.

Lisa - Thanks but if I'm so smart how come I can't remember when I saw the whole Mercedes break-in incident? :)

9:48 PM  

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