We all wonder how we will react when one of those moments in life comes along. I had one last night. I picked up the girls from the airport after a trip to Timaru. It was midnight when we drove into the car park of our church, which adjoins our house. As we were getting out of the car, my daughter Annie heard a noise coming from the church. I thought, 'not again!' You see, the church has been burgled twice recently and I wondered if it was nos 3. I ran into the church, unlocked it, only to come upon a burglar. It was nos 3. He did a runner, heading to the foyer of the church. I raced after him and had him cornered.
Now this was the moment when I could be hero or zero. I should have hit him with one of my famous crash tackles, well famous 20 years ago when donning the orange and green of Pakuranga. I did chase him and did grapple with him. He had a crow bar thing, which I wrestled off him. But then he broke free and headed for the door at the other end of the church. He was too quick for this old man. He scarpered down Diana Drive. I chased him and threw the crow bar at him, nearly hit him. Sadly I only had jandles on and my bare feet were no use racing down the road.
By this time my daughters and Emma my wife (and rev of the church) were on the scene. Gracie raced after him but was too late. Now at this point there was a car over the road of the church and the guy in the drivers seat said, 'what happened?' Emma frantically told him, and he said, I will chase him if you like. He took off. Annie thought, that is strange, and thankfully, got the license plate. She is a clever girl.
Emma rang the cops and they were there within a couple of minutes, nice one cops. Thankfully, in the interruption, the burglar had got away with nothing. The cops sent a dog after him, no luck. The stayed for an hour or so, took photos, interviewed us, and then we went home. The MO of this guy was the same as the last two robberies, it is surely the same bloke, looking for the new gear. Thankfully it is locked away out of his reach.
The cops checked out the license plate of the car, turns out it belongs to a criminal's family, here's hoping.
I have had all sorts of thoughts this morning. Things like, thank God I got the crow bar off him! I wonder what would have happened if I had got him. Why is this happening? Do people not have any respect for the things of God in this nation? (Many don't actually of course). Thank God he got away with nothing. I have prayed for him.
But deep down I am disappointed. This was my moment. I could have taken him down with a big tackle, held him down until the cops and Emma arrived. I could have been a hero. I can see the photo now, front page of the Herald. Me sitting on the criminal, holding him down, the cops coming. Me the hero.
But I butchered the chance. All it would have taken was a return to my youth, a shoulder charge. He was not a big bloke.
Of course, equally likely, I might have got a crow bar in the head, he might have had a knife or worse? Then again, I might have done some serious damage to him and myself. I can see the headlines, Laidlaw College lecturer and Presbyterian minister charged with manslaughter! I can see the photo in the Herald!
So, all in all, it turned out good. He got the shock of his life. He didn't get away with anything. No one was hurt... except my ego.
The truth is that I am not that happy with my reaction. I am not keen on violence. But the truth was, that in the heat of the moment, I was up for a good scrap. You never know how you will react in such a situation. I am not sure how I did to be honest? Tongue in cheek though, am I bad?