The re-emergence of my phone last week, led to some fairly dramatic events in the school setting.
On Tuesday morning I told my Year 8 group about the pitfalls of purchasing over the internet, using the experiences of the 14 year old girl who bought my phone as evidence. I also told them what the police had said to me about 'gifting' the phone to the girl, as she was out of pocket.
"Don't do that," cautioned the Police Officer,"how do you know she's not the thief?"
The thought had not even occurred to me!
"Oh yes," she continued,"that's what they do. They steal your phone, wait a week or so for you to get another one, and then call you up with a sob story so you unlock the phone for them!"
I am continually amazed by the deviousness of people.
As it turned out, my 14 year old girl was genuine but we still had to follow procedure. She turned the phone in at the Police Station and made a statement, meanwhile, I was failing to listen to one of my pupils.
"Mrs A," the Class Clown piped up, "When exactly did the girl buy the phone and where did she buy it from?"
"Why do you want to know?" I sighed in slight exasperation. This lad is well known for his diversionary tactics when it comes to work....
"Well, I think I know who took your phone," he said.
I was suitably dismissive. "We're not going to start making accusation without proof now, are we CC? Let's just focus on our work." And so the matter was left.
Later I spoke to the mother of Miss Gullible, who should probably be called Mrs Gullible herself, given that she went to the shopping mall and collected the phone off the lad. For yes, it was a lad, school aged and shifty in a dark hoody.
Apparently, he was calling himself John. Now, given that we had one boy in the cast of the show (from whence the phone was taken) called John, I thought I had better just make sure that Shifty Boy did not match his description. Mrs Gullible described a medium sized, light haired boy in a hoodie. Completely generic, and definitely not our John (whew). But then she said, "I don't mean to be offensive or anything, but there was one thing I noticed about him. He did have big lips."
I stored this bit of information away, but at that moment it meant nothing to me.
Later in the day, the Art teacher approached me.
"Have you spoken to the Class Clown?" she asked. "He says he knows who stole your phone."
"Oh for goodness sakes," I sighed,"He was trying to tell me something about that earlier but, really, I mean, what can he know about it?"
"Well," she replied carefully," He says he thinks it's his brother."
There was a stunned moment's silence as I digested this piece of information. With an almost audible click, the Brother's face and the phrase 'big lips' slid into place in the puzzle.
"She said he had big lips," I told her, and we stared at each other as the implications of this news blossomed like a drop of oil in a puddle...
I went to speak to the Head of Senior School about our suspicions and she suggested we speak to the Principal the next day and do some follow up investigations. I went home quite traumatised because, as well as the horror of having had my phone taken by a known and trusted pupil, the Art teacher had reminded me that the expensive Art Faculty camera had gone missing. Initially we had thought someone had borrowed it, but when it didn't return, Art teacher had begun to fear the worst. And of course, what is the role of Brother in the school? Yep, he's the official photographer at school events....
My heart just broke for his parents; a solid Christian family with eight kids and a high profile in the community; I knew how badly this would rock them. I also knew how kindly they would take to the school making accusations against one of their brood. Not very kindly at all!
In the end, we were spared that anguish, as the parents confronted the Brother on the strength of Class Clown's suspicions that night. They had already been experiencing alarm bells and, when they started to ask questions, answers started pouring out of Brother like beans out of a punctured bean bag! His father, obviously a graduate of The Flaming Sword School of Parenting, took him straight down to the Police Station where he turned himself in. Apparently my phone was just the tip of a very large iceberg!
I received an email from Brother, confessing his crime and asking forgiveness, which of course I had already given. His mother came to see me the next morning and had a little weep, telling me the whole story from their end, processing what it will mean and asking herself the age old question, "Where did we go wrong?" Class Clown was mortified and told his mother he could never face me again knowing what his brother had done, so I zoomed up to his classroom to catch and reassure him that there was no reason to feel guilty about the state of things.
So now I have two phones, Miss Gullible has none and the thief's mother is going to try and ensure that he compensates people for their losses.
I really hope a whole lot of us have learned things from this experience.........