Stolen Water Meter Covers

I sent the letter below to ebay and posted links to the auctions and some comments to one of the local NOLA forums hosted by our city newspaper, The Times-Picayune. Within minutes, a host of forum readers had posted comments, sending similar messages to ebay, the sellers, and posting suggestions for action on the list. Apparently, the problem is quite widespread and the forum has been active in getting auctions pulled in the past. Other suggestions were along the lines of reporting the auctions as internet fraud (which they are) through the proper channels, since ebay won’t miss the opportunity to gain a buck if there isn’t very clear evidence of foul-play. So, feeling it my civic duty, I did.

It made for an interesting day. One of the representatives from the US Attorney’s Office called in the morning. He was incredibly nice, had checked out the ebay listings and encouraged me to call the local Federal branch of the Cyber Crimes unit. Apparently, they open the cases and then turn them over the US Attorney’s Office. So, I did. In the mean time, I contacted some of the people instrumental in getting the last ebay listing pulled. One of them is a local artist, Heather Elizabeth of Heather Elizabeth Designs. She immediately forwarded messages to contacts she has at the Sewage and Water Board and City Attorneys; we emailed a few times during the day and I can now say I have a new artist friend in NOLA (check out her website and give her lots of great business!) On a roll and writing well, I sent a message to Anderson Cooper, too. (I guess I had hit my limit with the incredible lack of respect so many are showing New Orleans and went a little nuts.)

But the best part of the day was the dinner-time call I received from the Sewage and Water Board, to personally thank me for my efforts. The representative said that post-Katrina, the theft of historical city artifacts has been beyond extreme. Particularly in the flooded areas, where visiting and local workcrews have been stripping private and public properties without care or reflection on what they are taking. We shared the feeling that these are important fights, even if they seem trivial in our post-Katrina world, where anything that is not life and death rings as insignificant. The architectural and historical artifacts within the very streets of New Orleans are things to be perserved and protected; once they are gone, they are gone.

Yesterday ended with me feeling uplifted. I broke out a little from the frustration and sadness I’ve been feeling and I connected with other people who truly care and are willing to take the time to stand up for little things that matter.