Whilst moored at Middlewich "Starcross" was, for the first time a victim of boat crime. Having got fed up of having to keep knocking the pins back in on the embankment, where they were continually being loosened by a combination of passing boats and soft ground, I had moved her down towards the town and tied up at a spot where I could use piling hooks to make her more secure. The new spot turned out to be opposite the entrance to a footpath leading from the canal into town and when we returned after a visit to the centre we had to disturb a couple of youths of about 13 or 14 who were sitting on the path talking and drinking from cans of beer. They were quite polite and moved out of the way without being asked and I didn't give the matter a second thought. Some time later when we were eating our evening meal I thought I heard a noise on the cabin roof, but the boat didn't move and a quick glance out of the window revealed nothing, so I let it go.
It was when we left the boat to walk back into the town and the folk festival that I noticed something amiss. I try and always give the boat a quick "once over" when leaving it and looking towards the stern something seemed wrong. I eventually realised that I couldn't see the mop in its usual "traditional" place with the handle resting on the water can and tucked inside the chimney. Looking around, I eventually spotted it floating in the cut, with just the top of handle poking out above the surface. It was easily retrieved using the shaft but I couldn't fathom out why it had got into the water. It couldn't have just fallen, but why would anyone go to the trouble of throwing it in?
It was only as I was putting it, and the water can, inside the cabin before we left the boat again that I realised what the culprit had really been after. The brass chimney chain that should attach the chimney to the cabin roof (but doesn't on Starcross because I don't have a roof catch) was missing - and it was obviously this that had attracted his or her attention.
I don't mind - I bought it in a hurry and didn't like it much anyway. I shall replace it with something better but, as ever, the effect of even petty crime goes further than the actual loss incurred. Until now I have been happy - except in obviously dodgy locations - to leave the water can, mop etc on the roof, but I suppose that from now on I'll be taking them in at night more often and a little bit more trust in my fellow men will have disappeared.