Did you hear of the shocking events experienced by Rev Mike Jones that made headline news recently? He had his house stolen from him, but when he called the police, they told him that a crime hadn’t been committed!
Rev Jones first purchased his house in Luton back in 1990, soon after graduating from university and starting his first job. Over the past thirty years Mike’s employment has taken him to different parts of the country, and so his property has often been rented out, but has remained empty since the beginnings of the coronavirus crisis in early 2020.
However, one Friday evening last August, Mike’s next-door neighbours noticed that the lights were on in his house and called him to let him know, and when he arrived at his property the next day, having travelled down from where he was working in North Wales, he discovered that his keys no longer worked in the front door.
Then, after gaining access, he was astounded to find his home had been completely stripped of all furnishings, carpets & curtains, workmen had begun stripping plaster from the walls, and one of the bedroom’s ceilings had been pulled down!
Rev Jones immediately called the police, and soon after they arrived at the property, so did the father of the person who now claimed to be the owner. Sure enough, when they the land registry documents were examined online, even though Mike Jones had never sold the property, it was the name of this gentleman’s son, and not Mike’s, that was shown as the owner of his house.
At that point, the police told Mike ‘there’s nothing we can do here, this is a civil matter & you need to leave the house immediately because you are now trespassing!’ Thankfully, that wasn’t the end of the story.
Mike got in touch with the BBC Radio 4 consumer affairs programme, “You and Yours”, and you can still listen to their reporter Shari Vahl’s comprehensive investigation into these disquieting events on the BBC Sounds App. The episode in question was first broadcast on 22nd October.
The long-term implications for Rev Jones are that he will most likely receive financial compensation for the crime committed against him; but because another person’s name is on the Land Registry in relation to his house, (which incidentally is the only evidence we have of property ownership in this country), his home which he has owned for over thirty years no longer belongs to him, even though it was taken from him by criminal means.
Mike Jones is a victim of what is known as Vendor Fraud, incidents of which have increased by almost 40% in the past twelve months. A criminal obtained a duplicate driver’s licence in Mike’s name from the DVLA in January of this year; they also set up a bank account in his name to launder the financial proceeds of their crime. In short, someone stole his identity, and then stole his home.
As I sat and thought about the Rev Jones’ awful experience, I felt unnerved; not least because Linda & I own a property in another part of the country that we rent out and very rarely visit!
But I was also reminded of something that Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 6:19 & 20: - “Don’t pile up treasures on earth, where moth and rust can spoil them and thieves can break in and steal. But keep your treasure in Heaven where there is neither moth nor rust to spoil it and nobody can break in and steal.”
Whatever we have now that makes life good & more comfortable for us, it is all transient in nature; whether or not someone steals it from me, a day is coming when I’ll have to let it all go.
But the promise from Jesus for every one of us who puts his or her trust in him is that, as I look beyond my earthly existence, I don’t need to have any such worries or fears. Through faith in Jesus, my eternal security is guaranteed.
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