It started with an advertisement on Marktplaats, a Dutch version of Craigslist, that doesn’t offer services, but concentrates on the selling of goods. Claire (29) and her boyfriend used it to offer an iPhone for sale. Yesterday evening, they met the 18-year-old prospective buyer, allowing him into their home in Amsterdam. Clair recollects:

I heard my boyfriend talk to the young man in the kitchen. He asked if my boyfriend could turn the iPhone on, so he could see that the telephone really worked. A few moments later there was shouting, and running around in the house.

The buyer had offered to pay in cash, but Claire’s boyfriend suspected at once the money was fake. When he held up one of the notes to the light, the buyer started shouting and ran off with the phone, leaving the fake €50 notes on the table. In his flight, he broke off the handle and the key of the door. But Claire and her boyfriend live on the second floor and always lock the first-floor door.

The young man was trapped in the stairwell, and my boyfriend just jumped on him and they fought.

During the fight, Claire’s boyfriend managed to snatch his phone back, after which the man yelled he had a knife. Clair and her boyfriend decide that it’s now not worth the risk. He backs off, and Claire throws the would-be thief the key to the front door. The young man takes off, leaving Claire and boyfriend in a daze. They immediately call the police. Two police officers arrive after one-and-a-half hours. When her boyfriend asks when they can report the crime, they are told that they might as well not do it.

The officers were really nice. But I think it’s outrageous that we are not encouraged to report a crime when you are assaulted in your own house.

Claire tells the officers that there’s a surveillance camera close to their front door. But because the officers say it’s not a municipal camera,

I just had to see if I could get the images myself.

After the officers left, Claire and her boyfriend were left in a state of disbelief. Luckily, her boyfriend only suffered some abrasions. But there is something wounded that is harder to heal. The disbelief has been replaced by anger.

You lose your faith in the rule of law. We’ll go and report the crime tonight anyway, out of principle.