I was not expecting to require non-fiction detection...
Picture the scene. A quiet (or at least relatively traffic-free) residential street. Rows of neat identical houses, built in red-brick and with no regard for aesthetics. Not a hansom cab, pea-souper fog or cocaine addicted detective in sight.
I returned home from, and noticed nothing untoward*
A little later, I went out, looked up, and realised that there was something a bit off... the 'porch' above my front door was looking a bit naked. There were no tiles.
This was unexpected and disconcerting.
At first, I thought I had been the victim of vandals, but it seemed a little tidy for that., and there was no sign of any broken tiles.
So I then wondered whether I had been the victim of a particulaly un-ambitious thief.
But I couldn't understand why, in that case, they had picked my house, and left the neighbours fully tiled. And again, it seemed oddly tidy.
Then the following morning, I was able to take a closer look and realised, not only that the tiles were gone, but that one of the two struts had gone and had been replaced. Now, I can, just about, imagine that a thief might be tidy in their stealing, but not that they would repair something they damaged.
Now, in my street, most of the houses are owned by a Housing Association, so I then wondered whether maybe they (or their agents) had made a mistake and were supposed to be doing something to one of the houses which they own.
They aren't the easiest people to get hold of, but I am persistant.
Ths afternoon, I managed to speak to someone in their maintenace department. "Do yu happen to have had contractors in [my street] his week" I asked, "perhaps dealing with tiling on a porch.."
Him: "Oh, I think we had the contrators there, why"
Me:"My porch has been de-tiled, and I haven't heard anything from you about why that might be"
Him "Oh yes, I was doing an inspection with our contractors in that street. I saw there was a porch that I felt was in danger of collapse, so I instructed our contractor to remove the tiles straight away, in case they fell on someone"
Me "Did you think to check it belonged to you first?"
Me: " it was absolutely fine when I last saw it"
Him "you're not one of our tenants?"
He then admitted that as he had instructed his contractor to tske bits of my house away, thatit was his, (or at least his company's) responsiblity to replace them.
Personally, I have some doubts about his inspecting, too, as while I would not deny that there was a tile missing (before they were aall nicked, I mean) there was no collapsing going on, and it doesn't seem very probable that it would deteriorate to he collapsing point between my leaving for work, and their drive-by inspection.
I shall now wait for the return of the missing tiles. I have asked them to tell me first, this time, before they start any work. And please to not take away any other bits of my house without aking me first.
*I'm not saying there wasn't anything untoward. I didn't expect to be detectoring, so I wasn't looking for untowardness.