This story smells like the south end of a bull facing north

When someone tells a story that just reeks of urban legend, I want to call bullshit.  Problem is, it was a colleague, and she told it as an aside in front of a half-dozen people at a meeting, so I didn’t want to put her on the spot.  She swears it’s true, though like all urban legends, it sounds vaguely familiar.

A man and a woman are at a party in Winterhude, a wealthy area of Hamburg.

They get up to leave and the woman notices that her purse has been stolen.

They go home.  Two days later, they get a phone call from a man who introduces himself as Dr. So-and-so, who apologises profusely for his wife.  “She’s a kleptomaniac, you see.  This has happened before, and she’s getting psychiatric treatment, but sometimes she falls back.”

He then invites the man and his wife to come pick up the handbag and have a glass or two of champagne with him at a restaurant as a small gesture of goodwill.

The couple accept the invitation, but upon returning home with the handbag discover that in their absence, their house has been robbed clean.

Maybe it IS true.   Con artists are pretty good at what they do, and even the police have tricked fugitive criminals into showing up to receive contest prizes, but you can pick so many holes in this story.

A case for snopes.com?

13 Responses to “This story smells like the south end of a bull facing north”

  1. 1 vorpal
    February 25, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    A friend of mine was at the gym mid-afternoon.
    She got back to the locker room to find that the locker had been broken open, and her purse and car keys gone — as was the car.

    When she eventually got home, she found much of her stuff gone too.

    Don’t know if they ever caught the thief.

  2. 3 Cat
    February 25, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    I actually think that’s a very likely story as that’s a perfect setup to make sure no one’s at home, though obviously provided they don’t have any children or anything which could easily be discovered during that phonecall.

    As long as the people who invited them and the people that burgled them are careful enough to not have any connections between each other, such as phonecalls it’s pretty much the perfect crime.

  3. February 26, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    The let’s-go-burgle-the-bereaved scam noted in the Snopes link got so common around here families had to prepare for funerals by writing obits, finding pall-bearers and figuring out who’d stay at the house to guard it.

    Let it be noted the house-guard’s also useful for heading off incursions by the fringe relative who decides to leave the funeral early, go back to the house and pick up a few good things as “mementos”.

    • February 27, 2010 at 9:13 am

      True, but the house robberies vorpal and you describe don’t have the confidence trick angle of the urban legend my colleague told. As snopes notes, the con men are taking advantage of our good natures there. They know that normal people wouldn’t suspect a supposedly remorseful person of such calculated back-stabbing.

  4. February 28, 2010 at 12:05 am

    I’m not buying it, and I probably would have said so to my colleague

  5. February 28, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    sure… ya whatever colleague dudette… one more to go for record gold tonight… p.s. wasn’t the curling riveting!!!

  6. 10 Vorpal
    March 3, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    Well, somebody gave me curling tickets to one of the Women’s curling events. Great fun.
    What drama! What? Drama?
    I am SO glad I went. The skill is impressive, the tension palpable.
    Our seats were at the end of the rink, so their seats were face on when delivering their rocks. What can be better than that? Perhaps the wobbly bits wobbling while they sweep.
    I’m sure a great attraction for women spectators is watching men sweep and apparently enjoy it. There is just something about a game where people yell “Hurry! Hurry! Hurry HAAAARD!” while getting there rocks delivered.


    PS — your question: Did I believe the story? Like “The Good Samaritan”, the circumstances might not have been exactly as related, but story has been played out many times, I’m sure.
    The really dumb thing is that they had not changed their locks in the intervening 2 days.

    • March 3, 2010 at 11:34 pm

      The ol’ man used to love watching it, and now I know why!🙂
      But of course he watched it on TV, not from the right end of the rink.

      I learned something about that colleague’s story, and that an urban legend can also be true.

  7. March 10, 2010 at 11:41 am

    I usually wind up sending people links to snope.com – one hears so many urban legends these days.
    I remember in the 70’s they warned in the newspaper about burglars who burgled houses while people were at funerals. It could have happened somewhere sometime, who knows?

  8. March 12, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    sleep well little prince

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