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Once upon a time there lived a watchmaker in Denmark. Being very clever, he had founded a shop selling quality watches in Kompagnistræde, one of the streets just off the main pedestrian shopping street “Strøget” in the old city part of Copenhagen.

Now, you must understand that to maintain a shop in central Copenhagen you have to be quite clever, and you must also work very hard, for the real estate prices in this area are high, and the rent also.

But Michael Woolhead, as the watchmaker was called, prospered, and he was able to provide for himself and his family, and also for the people he hired to help out in the shop. The name of his shop was “Vintageure”, which means “Vintage Watches”. The watches he sold were expensive, for they were of the finest quality, and often inlaid with gold and diamonds.

Then one day it happened that a group of men heard of his shop. They could not afford his watches, but this mattered not to them, for they had no intention of buying them. Instead, they decided to steal some of them and sell them themselves.

The men bought pistols (ask me not how, for firearms are hard to come by in Denmark, where guns are strictly controlled) and went to the watchmaker’s shop. Here, they threatened the watchmaker and his assistants with the guns and forced them to hand over a large number of expensive watches.

After the men had left, the watchmaker rang for the police and reported the theft to his insurance company. The police, who hadn’t been near the scene of the crime (we know this, for otherwise they would surely have apprehended the felons!), arrived and wrote a report of what had happened, before making off to search for the robbers.

Now it happened that the tale of what had happened spread far and wide, and even beyond the land of Denmark and all the way to the Balkans. And it was rumored that in Copenhagen there lived a man with many expensive watches and no security, for in that country it was not allowed to defend oneself even in one’s own home or one’s own shop, and the police can’t be everywhere!

So it happened that the watchmaker was robbed again. And again. And again! I know not where the robbers came from the first five times. But the last two robberies were carried out by gangs from the Balkans. You see, the Balkan states by this time had joined the European Union and their citizens could therefore travel freely across all borders within the EU.

The sixth gang of robbers were armed. They proved this by firing warning shots before putting a pistol to the head of Mr. Woolhead’s assistant, who was his niece and, at the time of this robbery, eight months pregnant. Threatening in heavily accented English to kill her, they forced the watchmaker to look on as they smashed the armored glass and stole his watches.

For the sixth time running, the police arrived on the scene after the robbery to take a report and go look for the elusive thieves. As you can probably imagine, Mr. Woolhead’s patience was wearing a bit thin. So was his insurance company’s. They would no longer cover the full amount of the damages, refusing to pay more than 15% of the direct losses. Indirect losses, such as stress suffered from repeatedly looking down the muzzle of a gun, was not covered at all.

Watch Out!

Time’s up!

Mr. Woolhead was at a loss for what to do. He could not sustain such heavy losses on a regular basis without full insurance cover, and it was only a matter of time before a robber would, accidentally or deliberately, shoot and injure or even kill himself or his shop assistants!

So he went out into the darker streets of Copenhagen. I know not, and do not wish to know, where he went, for what he did was illegal. You see, he went and bought a real handgun with ammunition, which, as I have already told you, is strictly forbidden in Denmark without special permission. And such permission is never given to shop owners.

The seventh gang of robbers came from Serbia. We know this, because they were identified. In fact, they turned themselves in to the authorities. I shall tell you how this came to be.

The robbers arrived one early afternoon. As they burst into the shop, the watchmaker pulled out his own pistol and fired several shots, injuring two of them. It was perhaps lucky for him that this particular gang turned out to have only toy pistols; otherwise they might have fired back. As it is, they quickly fled the shop and took off in the getaway car they had stolen for the occasion.

But shortly after, they had to call for an ambulance, for as I mentioned, two of them were injured (the third robber made his escape, and what became of him is unknown to me). They were taken to hospital and treated for their wounds, which turned out not to be too serious. Having had to flee with no expensive watches, it was lucky for them that they had elected to rob a shop in Denmark, where hospital treatment, even for foreign criminals, is paid for by taxpayers such as Michael Woolhead.

This time, the police also showed up very quickly at the watchmaker’s shop! After a brief investigation, they arrested the watchmaker for firearms possession and for bodily assault of a particularly dangerous nature. The watchmaker was forced to spend a number of days and nights in prison while the case against him was made.

Then, on a summer’s day in 2007 he was brought before the judge. It was to little avail that he claimed he had bought a gun and fired it to defend himself and his property. The judge thought that defense was the police’s job, even though the police, as we know, had been nowhere near the shop at the time of the seven robberies. Neither did the court find that the defense of the shop’s “dead values” (i.e., the expensive watches) necessitated a firearm. The judge did, however, suggest that the watchmaker, if he felt that in-shop security was so important, could have bought a watchdog (no pun intended!) and kept it in the shop.

(The judge had obviously never owned a shop, or even thought of what it takes to own and run a shop. Otherwise, it would be as obvious to him as it is to you and me, that a large dog will scare away any potential customers. It will not, however, scare armed robbers who will simply use the dog to their own advantage, shooting the dog dead to make their point. But alas, you cannot expect judges and lawyers to understand such matters.)

In the end, the court found that Mr. Woolhead had been guilty of illegal firearms possession and sentenced him to six months imprisonment for this henious crime. Some of this time had already been served while the watchmaker was imprisoned pending investigation and the court case. The charges for dangerous assault were dropped, since it could not be proven that the watchmaker had known that the robbers’ guns were only toy guns, and he had therefore grounds for defending himself as if against armed thugs.

Finding that he had been sorely provoked and probably not quite himself, the court showed its leniency by making the remainder of the prison term probational, allowing the watchmaker to return to his shop.

Sadly, Mr. Woolhead decided that he could no longer cope with the job of running a shop in central Copenhagen, selling watches and being robbed regularly. So he sold his shop and is now retired in his early 50s, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.


(Inspired by this post from catsworld)