The best crime deterrent is rain. I remember even from my early years as a Bobby on the Beat in Hammersmith that the streets would be quiet and general crime reduce to zero during rain. In the evening and night we wouldn’t be rolling around the floor with drunks, the majority of whom were Irish labourers at that time, they would stagger straight to their lodgings after closing time (which often went on until 2am with some Landlords). Nor would the burglars and opportunist thieves bother except those who thought wrongly that we would also be holed up. We were sent out to our beat by the Sergeant who would often do spot checks to ensure we weren’t having a crafty cuppa somewhere.
In the early hours me and my mate Graham would go to Hammersmith Broadway underneath the flyover where we would watch the accidents, it’s true, in the rain when they were tired or drunk, the drivers would go round the one way system too fast and often end up smashed into the railings or another car.
If we were really bored at the end of a three week tour of nightwork we sometimes got up to a bit of innocent mischief. After our 4 am tea break we would go down King Street and one of us would sit cross legged on top of a red circular post box. We would be in full uniform with the traditional pointed hats. Now I think back on it we might have caused an accident because the drivers would suddenly get sight of us and either swerve or brake then laugh or come back for another look. If we saw that happening we would scarper so we couldn’t be recognised. If there was a complaint the Sergeant would know it was us but couldn’t prove it.
Another stupid game was to stand side by side and as a car came along we would do the famous copper’s knees bend and salute the driver, that confused them.
One night whilst I was sitting on the post box a thief drove up with eyes looking just at three bags of ready chipped potatoes delivered outside a nearby restaurant for collection in the morning. Looking around (unsuccessfully) he jumped out and nicked the chips. I jumped down from the post box and we arrested him. The owner was very happy because this kept happening and me and Graham got commended by the Chief Superintendent for our alert behaviour ‘especially at that time of the day’ he said ‘when other coppers might not have been so observant’.
I think this was the start of my Detective career.. to be continued