By Ranger Thumper
By Ranger Thumper
First thing's first: bad things sometimes happen in Black Rock City. Yea, I know, it's all about the love and sharing and gift economy, but whether it's from heatstroke or general bad naturedness or some unmet need from childhood that decided it was time to manifest itself, you can be sure that at some point during the weeklong event someone will help themselves to someone else's stuff. It could be your favorite bicycle, it could be a pack of cigarettes, it could be your generator. The item doesn't matter, what matters is that having any of your goods lifted is a major ass bummer, and really who needs an opportunity to practice forgiveness and compassion in BRC? There's plenty of time for that back in the world. That said, here's how to keep it from happening to you.
Hey, what is theft anyway, Ranger?
So who's the perp?
Some thefts are clearly planned out by what some rangers call coyotes: slinky varmints that slide around quietly at night, sizing up your camps, just waiting for you to be blissed out in some all night rave across town before they slide by and snag your goods. Most, however, occur on the spur of the moment, when someone walks by an unattended camp or public area and sees something just sitting there, and then greed and dehydration and god knows what other unmet needs rise to the surface and bang-there goes your EL Wire Pogo Stick.
Who cares who's doing it, how can I keep it from happening to me?
To stop theft from happening, here are a few common sense ideas.
1-Know your neighbors. Coyotes prey on a neighborhood not knowing each other-so know your neighbors! March right over to that truck that just pulled in with a plate of seven-layer bean dip and packets of Emergen-C to say hello. See someone near your camp you haven't met? Offer them some lemonade and introduce yourself. Most people will appreciate it, and thieves will be discouraged from going anywhere they're recognized.
2- Organize a Neighborhood Watch in your little patch o'BRC. It can be as organized or loose or as tight as you like-the important thing is giving your neighbors the gift of watching out for each other. Doing so encourages interaction, engenders familiarity and establishes trust.
3- Keep a safe and secure camp. The open nature of most citizens living in BRC is custom made for opportunity thieves. Keep them from themselves: when you leave camp, even for a few minutes, place valuable items out of sight.
4- Don't bring things you can't live without. If you bring your $3,000 titanium-framed, grip-shifted, tricked-out mountain bike to the playa to ride back and forth to Johnny-On-The-Spot, you're being stupid. If you bring it without a lock, you need to have your head examined.
5-If you take something, take it back. Sometimes the moment gets the best of us. Maybe you borrowed a bike, a six-pack, or a sequined mu-mu without asking. If so, take it back, apologize, and do something to make up for it-nothing says, "I'm truly sorry" like washing someone's crusty playa feet, hint hint.
A Word about Art Theft
Art theft is wrong. Art theft destroys the community. Art theft will rain hot karmic death down on you sure as kicking a puppy. If you really can't live without having a part of something, find the artist-many might be willing to work something out.
Meanwhile, take responsibility for protecting art. If you see someone acting inappropriately-pulling a bulb from Y2K, swinging on a delicate sculpture, pulling decorations off a barter bar-ACT! Call them on their shit. And don't put up with anyone saying, "it's going to burn anyway, what does it matter?" Only the artists decide when and if to burn their work, not the Vox Intoxici.
A Thief in Your Midst
Which brings up a perfect opportunity to speak directly to a would-be thief: are you sure no one's looking? Without giving away trade secrets, we'll suffice to say the Black Rock Rangers are incredibly well equipped and organized, and pity the fool who thinks they can hide under cover of darkness from the speeding cyclists of the Black Rock Ranger's RNR, or Rapid Night Response.
Common Sense, Uncommon Interaction
Again, remember that most theft takes place on impulse, between strangers, so ipso facto the fewer strangers the less theft. People are inherently good, people on the playa especially so, but not everyone can easily express themselves or meet strangers. Stretch yourself--go out of your way to talk to that new neighbor. Hey, you never know what may come of it. As an anonymous note left hanging in a dome once said "Love doesn't always call. Sometimes it whispers-keep listening."