For accountability to our supporters, we keep track of all our expenses. Last week, I noticed my records didn't add up. I suspected one of the Luswata kids might have swiped some of our shillings. To test this theory, I showed Hank that I was putting 20,000 shillings (less than $8 USD) in a money pouch on top my pillow (usually kept under my pillow).
When we returned home from the Adonai Centre, the money was gone and the pouch crawled back to its usual place under my pillow. Also missing were small things such as my flashlight and soap, and Hank's lifetime supply of hemorrhoid cream. Now we were sure someone was stealing and it couldn't have been the kids, so we let Aloysious know.
The Luswata family has lived at this location for only a few weeks. Now Aloysious realized that his camera, other items, and some money which had disappeared during this time were also stolen. We lock the house while we're gone, so the only possible suspects were the landlord, one of her housemates, and Cat-woman.
Click picture to reveal camera
After programming my phone to take snapshots at 5-second intervals, I hid it in a box of recycle-worthy books and directed it at the main entrance. We took everything else of worth out of the house and left for the day. We're gonna nab this thief!
A few hours later, in the heat of the day, Hank and I trekked an hour back home to retrieve our footage. We arrived sunburned and thirsty to discover that Hank's chocolate milk we planned to drink was gone. We didn't think anything could be worse until we noticed the spying phone was also gone!
They hit the jackpot with my phone and didn't even know it. It is worth more than everything else they had taken combined (except maybe the chocolate milk). And on it was the only evidence!
Hank and I were so upset about my phone we momentarily forgot how dangerous the situation actually was. We immediately went next door to confront the neighboring landlord's household. We told them we knew one of them had been stealing. Hank had the brilliant idea of stating that one of our
Bananabbing the bandit
spy-cameras was taken. “Fortunately, the others weren't taken,” he said. We would give them 15 minutes to spread the word. “If the phone is returned before then,” we said, “we won't press charges against the guilty person.” Otherwise, we would take our imaginary remaining spy-camera footage to the authorities. I reinforced the lie by asking if anyone had a laptop we could use to review the footage from the “other cameras”.
A few minutes later, the landlord's son came into our home and drew to our attention a green plastic bag on the table among piles of other random things. He asked if we had checked that bag. Hank replied that he had not, because: 1)We left the phone in the box of books. 2)The bag was not there only moments before. The man was returning the phone while attempting to make it appear we had misplaced it all along. Cat-woman, you're off the hook.
I hope you haven't missed the irony here. We convinced a thief to return the only evidence of his crimes. We praised God for what was obviously his intervention. Mukama yebazibwe! (Praise God!)
After reviewing the footage on the phone, we confirmed that the landlord's son who returned the phone had stolen it. He found the phone the third time he dug through the old books to add to his pilferage.
Later that day, Aloysious, Hank and I confronted him about the footage we had (which he still believes is from multiple cameras) and convinced him to return a number of other stolen goods, including a nice digital camera with Luswata family photos which was stolen before Hank and I arrived, my flashlight and bar of soap, some baby food, and even a half-used jar of peanut butter. He also returned 70,000 shillings. Still missing is the equivalent of a couple hundred dollars of Aloysious's money, and Hank's chocolate milk of inestimable worth. We've requested he returns any items still in his possession and reimburses Aloysious for everything else. It's been a couple days, so unfortunately police involvement may still be necessary.
Here's how you can pray. We'd like to write a follow-up to this post about how we have befriended this man and helped lead him to Christ. He has already thanked me for handling the situation diplomatically and for being careful not to embarrass him in front of his children. Also, pray that the cash be returned. And Mukama yebazibwe for our safety.
Watch the Spy Footage Here: