To the Dude Who Stole Everything from My Back Yard the Other Night

Boy, you got me good. Woke up the other morning, looked out the back window and noticed something funny. The yard was bigger. Wait, it wasn’t bigger, there was just less stuff in it. The patio table was gone, along with the patio chairs. Oh, the gas grill was missing, too.

I first wondered if you, the perpetrator, were the same one who stole the copper-colored solar lights from our front walkway last summer. I reasoned you weren’t, though, since this new crime seemed to constitute a level of intelligence above the numbskull who’d figured the lights were made of actual copper and were worth nabbing – a mistake his comrades in sin surely still josh him about: “Hey, remember that time you tried to melt down those lawn lights and ended up getting brain damage from the toxic fumes of the copper-colored plastic? Man, I wish we had that on video.”

No, a back yard thief like you is a whole different animal than a front yard thief. To get all of that stuff out of our fenced-in yard must have taken time, stealth and manpower. It surely helped that we blithely keep our gates unlocked, and that motion-sensing light I installed obviously was a boon, too -- all that illumination must have made your work a whole lot easier.

Of course, as you now know, the joke’s on you. The stuff you stole is complete crap. That patio table? We got it at a clearance sale six years ago and it’s not even supposed to be used outdoors. Hence the rusty metal legs and the frayed wicker tabletop. Same goes for those junky chairs – try not to get a wicker splinter in your ass. As for the gas grill, talk about consolation prize. It’s made by Aussie. Never heard of that company? That’s because it's the Pinto of grill manufacturers. Go look up the grill in Consumer Reports, and you’ll see they constantly rate it the worst of the worst. It’s going to take a hefty dose of knob twiddling and button pushing to get it to light. And when it does, watch your eyebrows. The fireball can be seen for blocks. You’re also probably not too happy with me that I never bothered to clean the damn thing, since the inside looks like that crappy lava planet where Obi-Wan and Anakin had their stupid final lightsaber duel. Sorry about that.

You’re best off just getting rid of the whole lot. Better yet, why don’t you just drop it off at my place – you know where I live – and I’ll take it off your hands.

Though if you do so, you’ll discover a whole new spread of goodies in my back yard. That’s right: I’m using the opportunity to upgrade. In the corner, you’ll see a brand new grill, one that’s much better than the old one, but cost much less (thank you, online shopping). It complements nicely the new patio furniture that’s just arrived – stuff that’s actually made to be outside.

A scofflaw like you will surely be tempted to pinch the stuff, but you’ll be chagrined to discover it’s no longer so easy to stroll into my residential realm unannounced. Yep, there are locks on the gates now – thanks for the lesson. Even if you get past them, you’ll find the grill isn’t so easy to wheel away anymore. It’s locked to the patio. The table will be a bitch, too, thanks to the nifty new umbrella and concrete stand that anchors it down.

Now, if you manage to surmount all that and steal my stuff again, bully for you. You’ve earned it. Though don’t be expecting me to pen another helpful breakdown of all the loot you got. This was a one-time courtesy, pal. Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, you’re an asshole. – Joel Warner

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Joel Warner is a former staff writer for Westword and International Business Times. He's also written for WIRED, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Bloomberg Businessweek, Popular Science, Slate, Grantland and many other publications. He's co-author of the 2014 book The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny, published by Simon & Schuster.
Contact: Joel Warner