At 5AM today -- about an hour ago -- just as my alarm went off, someone in the street below started shouting CALL POLICE! CALL POLICE! I grabbed my phone and went to the window, and saw a man in the street, shouting and looking up at the third-story roof of the office building across the street. Looked over just in time to see a man shinning down the side of the building, holding onto a cable -- probably the co-ax cable. The cable snapped, and the man -- a cat-burglar, apparently -- fell the rest of the way. My wife started calling police while I grabbed my camera. The police-shouter ran over to the fallen burglar and tried to block him, while the burglar screamed, "My leg is broken," and commenced crawling across the street, alternating cries of "My leg is broken" with "I didn't do nothin'." Halfway across, a dog-walker came by, spoke with the police-shouter, the burglar, and went back. When the burglar reached the opposite kerb, he took out his phone and called someone and started shouting "Please come get me, my ankle is broken, just come!"

Meantime, a third man -- I think he worked in the office building -- came out and called the police. The burglar continued to insist on his innocence, shouting every time he moved and jarred his leg. Six or seven minutes later, six police cars arrived, and I went back inside.

A strange way to start the day. Hope his leg is OK.

Cat burglar falls three storeys across the street at 5AM

117 Responses to “Cat burglar falls off three-storey building across from my bedroom window”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I think the important thing that everyone here is forgetting is that some innocent person lost their cable feed! Where is the outrage over this?

  2. Takuan says:

    I’m not sure how they do it London, but most places with an integrated three digit emergency number have dispatchers that send police/fire/ambulance as based on what the other party is screaming into the phone.

  3. Pantograph says:

    Haven’t you heard? Robin Hood was head of a band of robbers plain and simple. He stole from rich and poor alike and was not someone you’d like to meet alone in a dark alley.

    I bet in a couple of centuries our ancestors will be watching movies about the heroic exploits of Cunning Chav and his band of Happy Slappers.

  4. Takuan says:

    a few points: corporal punishment is not natural justice. My own feeling on it is that any man that beats me will pay ten fold, “legally justified” or not.

    Islamic style sharia punishment is barbarism.

    Victims always take precedent over miscreants. AFTER the victim is cared for, see to the criminal.

    Do not take what is not freely given.

    Be responsible to your own acts.

    Compassion is the ideal. However, first you must remain alive in order to exercise compassion.

    Do not return good for evil, return instead justice.

    I’ll trust my justice as much or over yours. certainly beyond any boob on a bench or thug in blue.

    There is no such thing as divine justice, human justice is flawed beyond use and natural justice just might exist.

  5. Jonathan Badger says:

    Actually, I’m surprised that Cory didn’t make any nasty comments about the police for (apparently) apprehending the fellow. He actually seems to understand that the police have a legitimate function. Merely sympathizing over the presumed criminal’s leg is pretty mild for Cory.

  6. phillamb168 says:

    Dunno how it is in the UK, but in the US it’s SOP for Police to arrive and secure the scene before an ambulance and rescue can arrive. Keeps ‘em safe, just in case.

    Also, true story: A guy I know once had a cat burglar steal all of his winter coats, and NOTHING else. Crazy, eh?

  7. Takuan says:

    inevitable I suppose, and more merciful than the taxidermy horror I feared.

  8. secretsecretary says:

    Is there a reason he didn’t walk out the building down the stairs? Does this building have a security guard on duty 24/7? At 5am the light of day appears to be pretty light…hmmm.. yet no shadows, no direct sun glare, thats seems about right. There are not too many people out except a shitting dog with master on a walk and man in business suit. What are you doing getting up at 5 am? What day of the week is it? How many stories tall is the building he fell from? Are building roofs adjacent the same height and could this man have been hopping roofs?

  9. ill lich says:

    “I hope his leg is ok”

    I knew there would be people on here questioning Cory’s empathy when I saw that line.

    From what Cory saw we cannot judge whether he was indeed a thief, or perhaps just an adulterer avoiding a jilted husband (or even a drunk out on a lark).

    But even if he was a thief we don’t know anything else about him, and who among us didn’t root for Jean Valjean, another thief?

    I don’t like theft, and if I came home and my house had been robbed I would be very distraught, but that doesn’t mean I would like to track down the thief and break his legs, I just want my stuff back.

    But perhaps that’s just me.

    “People cleave to their worldly possessions and selfish passions so blindly as to sacrifice their own lives for them.” –Buddha

  10. Rich Keller says:

    I way totally disagree with the idea of entertainment making me inured to real injury. Maybe some people are susceptible to desensitization, but I’m not. I can watch violent entertainment, knowing that it’s fake, but if I see someone real getting hurt, either in person or on screen as in the Neda video, it really upsets me. With real life injury, I feel empathy for the victim and I do what I can to help.

    Broken Ankle Guy should have taken the stairs if he had legitimate business in that building. If he didn’t have legitimate business there, he shouldn’t have been climbing up the outside.

    Cory, if you can find out how he’s doing or have any follow-up on this could you let us know?

  11. TheHikingStick says:

    Remember, we’re supposed to cling to the concept of “innocent until proven guilty”. The guy may well have been a cat burgler, but he also could have been an “urban explorer” type, or some lovesick guy returning from a failed attempt to win back his love. Let the system work. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best we have.

  12. noen says:

    Geek != Liberal.

    You have to be taught empathy to a certain degree. People who spent their adolescence fetishizing technology are not going to be magically imbued with liberal values. Especially when the culture at large has rejected those values in favor of “The Virtue of Selfishness”.

    The only reason we still have some semblance of liberalism today is because the baby boomers held on to their values in the face of the onslaught coming from official media and authority. Once they are gone it will be a very brave new world indeed.

  13. Nelson.C says:

    Well, quite, Takuan. The fact is, on the information we’ve got, there are dozens of explanations for why the cops showed up before the ambulance besides the one that seems to have been leapt to, that the person calling in was somehow morally or intellectually incompetent.

    Maybe our putative burglar fell off after the call was finished. Maybe the ambulance was called, but the cop cars got there first. Maybe there was an ambulance, but Cory didn’t mention it, or just didn’t see it before he went off to get dressed and brush his teeth.

  14. Ned613 says:

    “The cable snapped, and the man — a cat-burglar, apparently — fell the rest of the way.” — Doctorow

    Someone loses their cable TV reception and you make light of it! Cory, you cable TV subscribers everywhere an apology for your lack of sensitivity.

  15. Daneel says:

    @category

    it is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. Let the police decide, it’s their job – not yours.

    Largely I’d agree with you, but I think on the whole I’d rather have a jury of my peers determine my guilt, not the police. There’s nobody I want deciding who is innocent or guilty less than the police (except perhaps the media).

  16. Anonymous says:

    Wow, what a story. Good Morning !

  17. Ghede says:

    If I ever get desperate enough to rob people, I’m gonna be a cat-burglar… I like climbing and I like sneaking. If that ever happens, I’ll be in my forties and too out of shape to even scale a fence.

  18. nosehat says:

    He might not be a cat burglar.

    Maybe it’s Low Quality Spider Man. O_O

  19. Chris the Tiki guy says:

    My brain cannot help itself and has already gone into Eddie Izzard mode:

    “Hey, look, a creeping kid! For my new film, “The Creeping Kid!”

    Good thing they weren’t making “Tall Angular Country Veterinarian” outside your window, Cory.

  20. Takuan says:

    umm, why do you hope his leg is OK?

  21. Anonymous says:

    I “trespass” all the time. I have seen many amazing old buildings which were later destroyed by bulldozers. I haven’t ever hurt anyone or damaged anything while “trespassing”. Sometimes I climb challenging buildings, without hurting myself or anyone else or anyone’s property.

    Apparently, some people in this thread think I should be harassed, beaten or imprisoned. It matters more to some people what I might have done than what I actually did. They seem to think there is moral good in preventing me from utilizing my body’s abilities without harming anyone, because I might harm someone – they will harm me if they can, to protect society from my evilness.

    Godwin is waiting….

  22. Cory Doctorow says:

    @4 Because he’s a robber, not a murderer.

  23. Anonymous says:

    wow…impressive responses for a crowd so bent on karma for most who are caught with their pants down.

  24. Ito Kagehisa says:

    Climbing buildings is challenging and exhilarating. I enjoy it very much, although I seldom do it any more.

    If you break a pipe or cable, you should fix it or pay to have it fixed. And you should never put any weight on cables, stretching communications cables invariably damages them.

    Hmmm, also, don’t climb over slate or wooden roofs, and be careful not to damage built-up roofs and shingles.

  25. Anonymous says:

    a cat burglar with narcolepsy, perhaps? Or something to do with the solar eclipse?

  26. Anonymous says:

    Maybe he is into Parkour and he got stuck?

    Doubt it though.

  27. KurtMac says:

    Who needs TV?

    Also, I enjoy learning new ways of spelling English words for mundane objects in everyday life. Kerb. How delightful! I was also unaware of the term “shinning” and had to look it up, but mostly out of my own ignorance and lack of climbing abilities.

  28. wolfiesma says:

    Burglary is what happens when people can’t find jobs. If you care about the victims of theft, then it would seem to me a good idea to address the underlying economic conditions that make such a desperate and dangerous act seem like a good idea.

    Or you could hang the messengers.

  29. Takuan says:

    what is appropriate for a thief then?

  30. Anonymous says:

    The first thing I do when I see something attention grabbing is I reach for my camera. One time I accidentally set my car on fire and when it was over the first thing I took pictures. :D

  31. Darren Garrison says:

    Were the cats okay?

  32. vonskippy says:

    “I hope his leg is ok”

    So stealing is ok? Too bad the dumbass didn’t break his neck. Not only was he willing to rip someone off, but now he’s going to cost the taxpayers money to fix him up, lock him up, take care of him for a period of time, and then release him so he can try again. Yeah, that’s a great thing to wish for.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      This thread certainly goes a long way toward explaining the existence of Guantanamo and Bagram.

  33. Anonymous says:

    Would I break this guy’s leg to punish him for coming and stealing my stuff? No. But I wouldn’t feel terribly bad either if he slipped on the icy sidewalk on his way out and broke it himself.

    I believe it’s called Karma, and Karma is a you-know-what…

  34. Rindan says:

    Because he’s a robber, not a murderer.

    Eh, if I was a fan of corporal punishment I think that a good solid leg breaking would be about right for a cat bugler. It impairs the trade, hurts enough to remind you why what you did is wrong, but probably is going to leave you with little to no lasting damage. Murder on the other hand probably demands something far more sever than a piddly little leg breaking. Shit, if the cost of a murder was a broken leg and I had fewer morals, I would probably be a cheery wheel chair bound person for a few months.

  35. nutbastard says:

    if he’s a burglar, then this is the most appropriate punishment possible. you never realize how much you take your limbs for granted til one of them doesn’t work anymore.

  36. Takuan says:

    proportionality, skippy, proportionality. The extent is debatable, the doctrine isn’t.

  37. Takuan says:

    I’m inclined to think natural justice was served. An ankle, not a spine.

  38. Talia says:

    Takuan: “being a slave to initial unthinking emotion can be error as well. Your infant cries at the bite of the vaccination needle, would you stop?”

    No. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t feel compassion for the baby for being in pain.

    Pretty large hole in your logic there.

  39. nosehat says:

    I’ve never burgled anything, feline or otherwise, but I’ve certainly spent a lot of time sneaking around, including on roofs, in my misspent youth. I’ll wait for more evidence before I decide he’s a burglar.

    And I also hope his leg is ok, but after a three story fall onto concrete, it probably isn’t.

  40. Anonymous says:

    Really, the (apparent) thief deserves a broken leg? Does he deserve more pain that that? Exactly how much? Certainly some legal systems to inflict physical pain (lashings, do they still cut off hands?) – do we want that for our society? Why?

    No one wished him released from prison.

    vonskippy: while you lament how much the taxpayers will pay for his broken leg, you then wished he broke his neck – really?

  41. Takuan says:

    being a slave to initial unthinking emotion can be error as well. Your infant cries at the bite of the vaccination needle, would you stop?

  42. RedShirt77 says:

    The term Cat burglar would imply some amount of nimbleness. This seems to be a case of a crook on a roof having left his common sense at home.

    I hope his leg doesn’t keep him from honest work after he pleads guilty to being a dumb ass.

  43. cycle23 says:

    Wait, innocent until prov… (checks license plates)… Oh wait, England. Carry on.

  44. Snig says:

    Interesting trying to line up ICD-9 codes with the penal code. Hope he recovers, but sort of hope the fates are using principles of “natural consequences” to teach him something.

  45. Takuan says:

    feeling doesn’t preclude action, or choosing to refrain from action.

  46. Takuan says:

    he may have been innocent. Shall we assume for the purposes of discussion he wasn’t?

  47. Takuan says:

    it’s all about time.

  48. theOlster says:

    Erm. Where is the bag with “SWAG” written on it. I can’t believe you left that out!
    But as much as I hope he is now on the road to recovery, I also hope he is in a cell.

  49. Pantograph says:

    Hi Wolfiesma, I couldn’t agree more. Also rape is what happens when a guy can’t get a date… No wait that can’t be right. Where does personal responsability figure in your worldview?

  50. Trevel says:

    There is, I think, a large difference between advocating breaking someone’s leg for committing a crime and being pleased that, due to the criminals own actions, he broke his own leg.

    Assuming that he was a criminal, that is.

    That said, there is certainly and absolutely nothing wrong about looking out the window, seeing someone in pain, and hoping that they’re going to be alright. That sounds like a pretty good reaction to have, and it’s probably not the best time to be appreciating poetic justice anyways.

  51. Rip Tatermen says:

    @11 I agree, cat buglers are reprehensible. But oh, the sounds they get out of those cats!

  52. Anonymous says:

    wow, guys. more fans of corporal punishment here than I would have thought. And punishment for something which didn’t actually happen.

    Legbreaking as a punishment for INTENT (unproven) to commit a crime? so much for civil rights.

    also, it’s just plain sick to gloat over someone’s broken leg… maybe excusable in the heat of anger & pain if you have personally been grievously harmed by someone. But remote snickering over harm incurred by someone’s possible crime against property (not even against someone’s person)?

    isn’t that the same draconian attitude the RIAA takes against file-sharers, actually?

  53. bolamig says:

    Cat burglars really exist outside of heist movies? I leave my 4th floor city window open sometimes even though I know someone with a bit of climbing skill or equipment could get to it. Shucks now I’m going to have to rethink that.

  54. MrJM says:

    Maybe it was just Professor Henry Louis Gates trying to get back into his house…

    [/flamebait]

    – MrJM

  55. Anonymous says:

    I hope it was’nt all a big diversion, have you checked you still have your Red Cape and Goggles?

  56. Anonymous says:

    I hate you Cory Doctorow.

    You are a solid fiction writer, and something absurd happens outside of your home, and instead of hording it for some fantastically absurd moment in your next novel, you let us know it existed. You could totally have taken credit for that moment, but no, you are certain that your mind can still produce better.

  57. DarthVain says:

    I think this is horrible.

    The guy was climbing on the side of a building, and fell 3 stories and broke his leg.

    The first thing they do is call the cops? How about a ambulance? Remind me never to go to England or where ever the hell this story is from.

    “It was presumed he was a cat burgler”

    What. The. Hell. Was he wearing all black? Did he have stolen items falling out of his pockets? Did he have a little black mask and a waxed pencil mustache?

    Who the hell knows why he was out there? Maybe he was drunk and stupid? Maybe his buddies dared him? Maybe he was practicing parcour? Fixing his cable? Maybe he was on the roof and fell?

    Call an ambulance first and then the cops. He has a broken leg. It isn’t like he is going to run away, and its not like the hospital is going to release him, either way just as easy for the cops to visit him in hospital as the street. At least if the paramedics get there first they can help the guy.

    Disgusted.

  58. Phikus says:

    Maybe he was just a lousy cable installer. ;D

  59. KWillets says:

    I’m shocked at this Orwellian invasion of his privacy.

  60. bolamig says:

    When I searched for “cat burglar” for my town, most of the hits involved the SPCA. Makes me wonder about that dog walker…

  61. spazzm says:

    Heh, some drug addicts will get in anywhere if they think there’s anything valuable there. Tweakers are the worst, they’re light enough and skinny enough to get in practically anywhere, and have the drive to actually try quite insane stunts.

    Sadly, there are few witty, resourceful and clever thieves a-la Ocean’s 11. Real world criminals are mostly vulgar, crude, stupid and violent.

    Anyways, I too hope his leg is ok, or at least heals well.

  62. Anonymous says:

    Burglary is what happens when addicts can’t scrounge enough for a fix, at least around here.

  63. Takuan says:

    oh, perhaps a year ago? I can’t recall precisely. She was sitting in the the emergency ward nursing a wrist (which later proved broken). I struck up a conversation and learned her bicycle had been stolen. Using an unfamiliar borrowed bike, she had had a fender-bender with a car that cut her off. Her family came by and I overheard how her new job was now lost and her plans for travel that year were gone as well. Ah well, she was young, a set-back of a year isn’t much compared to the few dollars for crack the stolen bicycle must have netted the thief.

  64. spazzm says:

    By the way, six police cars and not a single medic/ambulance for the broken leg?

    Maybe British suspected criminals with broken legs are forced to hop to the hospital?

  65. Anonymous says:

    white sneakers aren’t very cat-like. as mentioned above, black ballet slippers all the way!

  66. Anony Mouse says:

    @ #62 Pantygraph:

    Robin Hood didn’t exist. Sorry.

  67. Zergonapal says:

    If the police ask you for a witness statement you can just point them to Boing Boing :)

  68. icky2000 says:

    @6: If your cat burglar theory is correct, he isn’t a robber. Burglary is sneaking in and stealing stuff. Robbery is using force or fear to take stuff. They’re different.

  69. couchguy says:

    A real cat burglar would have dragged himself away quietly while attempting to pretend that he’d fully intended to fall off the roof and break his leg.

  70. Hans says:

    I don’t want to rush to judgement here. Maybe he was a Harvard professor.

    *ducks and runs*

  71. nosehat says:

    @ 33: “By the way, six police cars and not a single medic/ambulance for the broken leg?”

    I was wondering the same thing. The 6 police cars is certainly overkill, and the no ambulance is just mean.

    @ Takuan: I do understand that burglary is bad, and I’m well aware that it can have a profound impact on its victims’ lives. I also think a reasonable society should punish burglars. I still think it’s just plain small-minded and mean for us to wish this fellow hurt himself (even assuming his guilt).

  72. Simon Bradshaw says:

    @33: Ambulances are for casualties who need immediate hospital treatment and/or life-support on the way there. Police are all trained in first aid and can either take him to A&E if need be or call an ambulance if more help is needed.

    Yes, this guy needs his leg fixing. But he’s the author of his own misfortune, and there’s no justification in tying up an ambulance if police are already in attendance.

  73. TroofSeeker says:

    Before you guys kick his broken leg any more, maybe he’s just a small businessman, a ‘back door man’ (not the Greek version! A man-whore.)
    And Cory, it’s no wonder he got confused on your street-cars drive on BOTH sides, arrows point in both directions… he probably thought he was on the first floor. Mrs. Jenkins is Friday, dummy! Mrs. Perkins is on the third! Amateur.
    Should’a called Fred Gavin.

  74. Anonymous says:

    troofseeker – also, here in the UK, what we call ‘first floor’ is ‘second floor’ in the US… plenty of room for confusion…

  75. failix says:

    @vonskippy:

    So stealing is ok?

    Only from people like you.

  76. Keeper of the Lantern says:

    He’s lucky this wasn’t New York! (They would have torn him to shreds!)

    As for Corey wishing the guy’s leg was OK, what a bunch of Philosophical Nazis!

    Damn! Does someone NEED to have some conceptual reason relating to punishment and crime to wish some guy’s leg was OK? It doesn’t have to be rational or “fit the crime”.

    For instance, when I saw the picture of Paris Hilton being driven away to Prison, even though she probably deserved it, and even though her club fed prison was probably better than some of the hotels I’ve stayed in, she had a real look of animal fear in her eyes and I just felt bad for her. Her fear was real and she wasn’t smart enough to piece together why it was happening to her. I don’t really give a shit whether I was “right” to feel that. I just DID.

    It’s creepy to start trying to force-feed your feelings with your philosophies of life.

  77. nosehat says:

    @Keeper #43: “I don’t really give a shit whether I was “right” to feel that. I just DID.”

    It’s called basic human empathy. It is definitely ‘right’ to feel that. The basic ability to empathize is one of the things that keeps you from becoming a criminal yourself.

  78. noen says:

    “what is more compassionate? Feeding someone? Or patiently starving and alternately showing how to grow food?”

    It’s a mix. What is the proper response to alcoholism? Is it a disease to be treated or moral failure? The answer is both/and. You treat the individual with compassion but at the same time you don’t enable the disease process. You make treatment available but you don’t force it on them nor blame them when they fail to make use of it.

    I suppose it would be similar to the Buddhist idea of detached engagement. You choose it be here now and involved in this world and yet you take a small step back from it. The burglar is morally to blame for what he did, we however are not permitted to take pleasure in his suffering. No matter how well deserved we feel it to be.

    Q.
    Why do we have laws against cruelty to animals? They have no rights, they are not citizens. They are mere bio-machines that act only on instinct. Except for perhaps a very few they have no “self”, no conscious self aware “I”. They are not moral agents.

    A.
    The laws are for us not them. They make us better humans.

  79. Anonymous says:

    Am tempted to prove that Streetview is invasion of privacy by deducing Cory Doctorow’s home address from matching the photo automatically to buildings. Must. Resist. Temptation. Will. Waste. More. Time.

  80. Takuan says:

    I don’t take pleasure in the broken ankle of a thief. Possibly, I do feel a sense of completeness in action and consequence.

    What goes around always does come around. The human problem is accepting our brief flicker when karma can take a far longer time. We tend to want to hurry things.

  81. sf says:

    oh I know where that street is, hmmm so Cory lives in that place huh.

  82. noen says:

    @ Pantograph — For me personal responsibility figures in at all points. You are responsible for your behavior at all times, no exceptions. At the same time it is true that there are things one can do on the societal level to lessen crime. The ‘broken window’ theory of criminology. Generally I prefer both/and as a response to some problems.

  83. Anony Mouse says:

    As a guy who has been known to scale blocks to win the favour of fair ladies, I’m willing to consider other possibilities here, such as stupidity, pranksterism and art. The statement of ‘I didn’t do nuffin!’ doesn’t do a great deal to lend credence to any of these possibilities, but it would be wrong to equate a manner of speech (a product of class) to a propensity to criminality.

    That said, tearing someone’s co-ax out is probably an act of criminal damage; especially now that Eastenders is on 5 days a week or whatever… I’m not sure but I think that climbing buildings without permission of the owners is illegal in any case.

  84. JulianR says:

    It’s actually quite shocking to see how medieval most commenters’ opinions are. First, nodoby knows if the guy’s really a burglar, even though it very much looks like it, second, what does the pain of a broken bone have to do with the morality of burgling? Every person is entitled to an intact body, so shut up everyone who thinks this is fair. It’s two completely different things, a potential burglary and an accident. America, get over this horrible mob mentality right now.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      It’s actually quite shocking to see how medieval most commenters’ opinions are.

      Wanting to torture someone who hasn’t been to trial? Looks like Dick Cheney has hacked some of our user accounts.

  85. wolfiesma says:

    Don’t start with me, Pantograph. My sense of personal responsibility is highly highly honed. Rape has nothing to do with it, and throwing that in there is just mean and nasty. Was that what you were going for?

  86. Tdawwg says:

    We might simply embrace our aggression and callousness toward the victim, and use the poor burglar as a moral example: we experience some small schadenfreude in his pain, we recognize this aspect of ourselves, and we move on. A droll chuckle at reading this story does not a bad person make. Rather than talking about whether or not we’re “permitted” this pleasure in his suffering, whether it’s “deserved” or not–I’d say “earned” by us–we could admit the fact of so many taking pleasure in his pain as a simple truth of our human condition, and one that needn’t preclude an active, responsive, caring attitude toward the world.

    The same goes for empathy toward the burglar: who cares if he’s a bad man, we feel for him, big deal. Human beings have feelings, not all of them tidy or appropriate.

    That said, some of the more extreme glorying in the guy’s, ahem, downfall, are kinda gross. What’s that about?

  87. Fooksie says:

    Geez,
    Good thing you had a camera. Glad you got that picture in focus.
    Please, if I break my leg, could you put the camera down, get off the web, and call for the ambulance.
    Thank you.

  88. Cory Doctorow says:

    Fooksie, RTFA. My phone crashed at the moment that the guy started screaming for the police. My wife called them from her phone before anyone got a camera out.

  89. Pantograph says:

    When you do dumb things like scaling buildings in the middle of the night without proper protection, and things go wrong you’re lucky to escape with a broken leg. As someone wiser than me once said, stupidity should be painful and so justice is served and a lesson is hopefully learned.

    While I do not wish permanent injury on anyone, I do feel that self inflicted pain is a force for good in the long run. (I know for a fact that it has taught me one or two valuable life lessons.)

  90. Pantograph says:

    Next you”l be telling me that Santy Claus doesn’t exist either.

    Come to think of it, this chap was seen climbing a building carrying valuables. How do we know that he isn’t Santa’s little helper cleaning up the backlog from last december?

  91. finiteattentionspan says:

    Am I the only person who read this headline and thought “Yes, but did he land on his feet?

  92. Cory Doctorow says:

    @73: for the record, the guy was not asking for anyone to call an ambulance; instead he was calling a friend and asking him to come get him before the police got there.

  93. Nelson.C says:

    I rather got the impression that the cops were called while the guy was still climbing. While it might not have taken a great deal of prescience to guess that he might reach the ground sooner than he expected, chances are that the person calling it in just didn’t think of it at the time.

  94. Category says:

    I’ve taken a fall like that before, but only from the second floor. Broke an ankle, hurt like hell, got accussed of being a theif. The truth is I was sneaking out of my girlfriends room, before her dad found me in there (he didn’t approve of our relationship). After all was said and done, after falling off the gutter pipe and hitting the deck, the police and first response paramedics (strange ambulances with hardly any eguipment or space in) alerted her dad to my presence, and I didn’t see her for a while!

    So, a lot of you people are jumping to conclusions. There are MANY reasons a guy might be climbing a building, and it is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. Let the police decide, it’s their job – not yours.

  95. Takuan says:

    what is more compassionate? Feeding someone? Or patiently starving and alternately showing how to grow food?

  96. Cory Doctorow says:

    I don’t know for a fact that the guy was a thief, but he had apparently climbed out of the window of the office building — stuffed with electronics and computers, visible from the street — onto the roof, and then fallen trying to escape from the man who was calling for police (I believe the man was the security guard for the building; I’ve seen him in the building’s doorway).

    Once he was on the ground, the injured man told a series of crazy, obvious lies, like, “The door was unlocked, the man let me in, I didn’t do anything.” He might have been an urban explorer in shock, but he sure looked like a burglar.

    I wouldn’t wish physical harm on anyone, and I am open to the possibility that this guy was just an trespasser and not a thief. The circumstantial evidence, however, is compelling.

  97. Tdawwg says:

    Eh, if I was a fan of corporal punishment I think that a good solid leg breaking would be about right for a cat bugler.

    Well, my cat bugler plays reveille every day to wake me up, so stay away from his leg or I’ll be pissed.

  98. PaulR says:

    A few months later, after successfully using the “I didn’t do nothin’” defense(“I din’t do noffink.”?), he can use the other ‘usual’ “It was never proven in a court of law”.

    Learned this phrase from from the Trailer Park Boys.
    Along with a new use for the word “unit”.

  99. Angstrom says:

    @ #51 finiteattentionspan

    yep, me too.

    That first thought was intensified by the ellipsis and truncation of my firefox rss. IE “cat burglar falls off three storey building …”

    I fully expected “… and lands on his feet”

  100. Anonymous says:

    strange that he’s in the middle of the road? He fell from three stories and what, the wind pushed him out about 4-5 meters away from the wall???? Or are you telling me he dragged himself into the road? And how can you fall three stories and sit upright in a normal position?? lucky to have survived at all let alone be able to make anything that resembles a usual body position, i would be mangled up.

  101. Daemon says:

    There’s nothing like yelling “i’m innocent” to make people automatically assume you’re guilty.

    He should have claimed to be a fan of Alain Robert.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alain_Robert

  102. wolfiesma says:

    You feel compassion. You don’t calculate it.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      You feel compassion. You don’t calculate it.

      Haven’t you heard? If you can’t pour it from a beaker, express it as an equation or create it in a particle accelerator, it doesn’t exist.

  103. Bugs says:

    I’m surprised by the people who’re glad that this guy broke his leg. The purpose of punishment for a crime is twofold:

    1) As a deterrent (to make everyone fear the consequences of committing crime)

    2) Hopefully, as rehabilitation (to make actual criminals stop committing crimes in the future).

    The lesson he’ll learn from this incident isn’t “don’t commit crime”, it’s “plan your crime better”. This guy is suffering with no benefit to himself or wider society, except to satisfy people’s base urge for revenge. I take the view that suffering is an occasionally necessary evil. There’s not benefit to anyone in this story, so I’d rather my fellow human being wasn’t suffering.

    A while ago I read a compelling argument in favour of corporal punishment. The reasoning was that jail time means the criminal loses their job and will have a harder time finding work in the future, making them much more likely to re-offend. Being locked up with a bunch of other criminals also has a (provable) echo-chamber effect, further increasing the liklihood to re-offend.

    By contrast, modern medical techniques can be used to induce very carefully calibrated levels of pain with no long-lasting physical effects, meaning that the criminal needn’t lose their job or spend time living with other criminals. The intensity and duration of pain can be fine-tuned; it’d even be possible to e.g. make someone need to use a wheelchair for a couple of weeks with no longer-lasting effects.

    The idea might seem barbaric, but is inducing transient and safe pain really worse than locking someone up, controlling their daily routine and severely limiting communication with their family? And from a simple pragmatic point of view, it’d likely be far, far cheaper than keeping someone in prison. (There’s an alternate argument that it’d be a good replacement for fining people; people’s ability to afford fines varies and the UK govt spends more enforcing collection than it actually collects. Pain, it was suggested, would be a great social leveller).

    I doubt it could be anywhere near as rehabilitation programmes, which can have astonishingly good success rates but are a politically dangerous option for a leader who wants to look “tough on crime”. But it’s still an interesting debate to have.

  104. Pipenta says:

    I’m with Takuan on this one.

    I do not lack empathy, I just direct it more discretely. I feel empathy for the victims of crime, rather than the perpetrators.

    I’m crabby and tired and not, clearly, a Buddhist saint. Gosh, I must have a limited capacity for empathy. I just can’t empathize with the selfish sociopathic mindset that says “I am going to take things which do not belong to me.”

    I would not have broken this man’s leg, but I hope is that this little incident affords him a chance to realize what a dick move being a thief is, and how much hardship and suffering he is causing other people. I doubt it, but that’s what I hope. It’s a ballsier wish for him than a minimally-damaged leg.

    Not all of us have enough money to trot out and replace the things we need. It is, perhaps, easier to empathize with a thief if you’ve got enough resources such that they can’t do you major harm.

    And the folks who are scolding Tak seem to lack “the basic human decency” to care about the people the cat burglar was attempting to victimize and the people likely victimized in the past.

    And, come to think of it, those same folks have the capacity to be open-hearted about a criminal, but are more than ready to jump on Tak for his so-called lack of compassion? Methinks I smell a steaming load of bullshit here.

  105. Michael Smith says:

    #40,

    I am surprised that the police in the UK will drive people to the hospital. The rule here in Victoria, Australia is that if you have somebody injured in a fall you call for an ambulance, and that is exactly what the police will do. This guy could have spinal injuries. He could be bleeding internally.

    I remember a case of a famous footballer who got kicked out of a casino here. The police drove him home as a favour. Then one guy wrote into the paper about the time he walked 10 or 20 km in high temperatures with a young child after a breakdown. The police had come past but pointed out that they don’t run a taxi service and don’t have insurance for non-criminal passengers anyway.

  106. george57l says:

    Cory you have a duty to contact the Police and let them know what you saw and that you have pictures. They can then ask if you took any pics of the policemen and if so arrest you on the spot. Do let us know how that goes.

    And Cory @ #6 – can someone sort out the numbering on these threads – it may have been #4 when you posted but by the time your comment appeared, you were replying to #5. Easy enough to spot here, but in longer threads where replies are separated by internet aeons of space and time, well …

  107. Rich Keller says:

    So, this wasn’t some Parkour mishap, then?

  108. pepsiman says:

    Gravity for great justice. Take that! man who would defy the nature of buildings. We have no pity for your legs.

  109. BobbyMike says:

    He at least had the common courtesy not to get stuck in a ventilation shaft.

    I’m with Cory on this one. Burglary is a crime and causes problems for other people, but it is a non-violent crime. If he is a drug addict spending time in jail w/o a fix would be worse then spending time in a hospital on painkillers.

    On the other hand I get a vicarious kick out of reading news stories about would-be robbers getting their behinds handed to them by their would-be victims, especially if the attacked senior citizens.

    Example:

    http://cbs5.com/local/Marine.attempted.robbery.2.686630.html

  110. bonafidebob says:

    Alleged cat burglar maybe, clumsy trespasser definitely. So fine, call the cops when he’s climbing/trespassing, but when you see a guy fall three stories onto pavement, definitely call an ambulance too. THEN take pictures.

  111. Snig says:

    The guy who once broke into our flat and took our electronics and my wife’s jewelry had previous convictions for assault. It’s possible that catburglar was breaking into a company that manufactures DRM and sells clients cell phone data to corporate juggernauts, and the catburglar was Robin hood type who going to use the proceeds to fund a ukelele camp for underprivileged kids. In the process of breaking into buildings, sometimes people get hurt. Even if it’s not a “violent crime”, just calling the police away from violent crimes is bad. Still not feeling that bad he broke his leg. Cory can follow and post this guys bio. Maybe it’s the first bad thing he’s ever done, maybe this is karma for previous crimes.

  112. arkizzle / Moderator says:

    BonaFideBob

    My wife started calling police while I grabbed my camera.

    Now what?

  113. Xopher says:

    I can understand people lacking empathy for this guy. I can understand people assuming he was up to no good (beyond trespassing).

    Can’t agree, but I understand.

    What I understand much less is the people who jumped on Cory because he DID have empathy. You who did that, do you really think empathy for an injured criminal is a bad thing, or do you just like to rag on Cory for any possible excuse? Or maybe you’re just trying to portray yourselves as tough or something?

    If you have no empathy for an injured innocent, there’s something wrong with you that cannot be fixed. If you have empathy for injured innocents, but not for injured criminals, I think there’s something wrong with you too, but in that case therapy can help.

    This is why I object to certain forms of “entertainment” available now. Seeing someone’s bleeding face should evoke an adrenaline response; if you become inured to seeing such things, you will not react appropriately when someone is injured in “real life.”

    I think the world needs more empathy, not less; more humane treatment even of criminals—even of terrorists—not less.

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