Stolen Waggons - A growing problem?
Over the last few years Romani vardos have increasingly become a soft target for organised "gang thieves" in the UK.
Often cleverly organised, these shady characters seem to take extraordinary risks to achieve their aims. A classic example is the 2 vardos stolen from the Mary Arden House Museum on Stow Fair Day 2007. The event took place in the middle of the night using a hiab-type lifting tackle on flat bed lorries.
Wheels, stoves, lamps and beautiful carvings are also common items of waggon theft - though of a lesser value, it's still going to hurt the owner if it takes place. A full set of wooden wheels are expensive to replace and will usually require a complete refit with fresh matching axles.
So what can be done? Firstly we're not in US, so if you stumble across some fleeing shadows running across your yard in the dead of night you can't go filling their rumps with lead pellets without ending up in one of Her Majesty's closets. I used to get shot at with rice filled cartridges by a yogomush - gamekeeper in my youth poaching barrikanni - pheasants; the sudden bang made for a change of clothes afterwards but that's another tale.
Waggon security? Most times it's all down to common sense. Vardo owners think waggon theft will never happen to them, and it's true that most times it doesn't - however don't be fooled into a false sense of security. Today's thieves even get caught digging up main roads behind nicked traffic lights to steal copper-laden cables or chor church marble figurines and ancient relics to flog to bent collectors. Sadly these days anything goes, and I'm afraid that includes rare one-and-a-half ton Romani vardos. So sensible measures need to be taken, otherwise one night you could be shouting up the stairs "Missus, the waggon's gone and they've took the dog too!".
Perhaps it could be time to re-evaluate your security arrangements around your trusty timber waggon/s, if just to slow down any would-be criminals - no thief likes to be delayed or hang around longer than planned; it get hearts racing, and mistakes are made - so stack the odds against them and make your world full of obstacles.
SECURITY MEASURES - if your budgets limited, then DIY your own security: off-the-shelf CCTV alarm systems, infrared security lights and dummy cameras are all cheap today, and most are adequate for the job. If you have unlimited funds and own rare vardos or a valuable collection, then get a professional security system fitted, even a tracker device; they fit them on £80k Aston Martins, so if your waggon's worth similar then why not? Other measures - a loud dog or noisy geese for a wake up call. If the waggon's stored up for winter, heavy-chain the wheels together and slap some anti-theft grease on the chain. If they get this on them, it will go "everywhere on everything" - their vehicles, clothes etc, and the dye stains the hands for weeks. One of the best remedies if you're not using the waggon much or it's in long term storage is to completely remove the wheels and store them 30 miles away for safe keeping. Moving a full-size "dead waggon" without wheels is a mammoth job for most people at the best of times, especially without heavy lifting tackle or winches. Whatever you choose, do something - it's worth it!
What happens to the stolen vardos? Probably they get stored up till the dust settles then sold on to some well hidden punter or back on to the open market, broken up for spares, or frittered away overseas in a ship's container to an awaiting client. Either way, once one waggon is successfully chored they will be after another! And it could be yours next!
Stay vigilant and contact Gypsy Waggons firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any information regarding stolen vardos.
Atch konyo vardo fokendi.