Just a few hours ago I left the Central Yerevan police headquarters located not far from the St. Sarkis Church, which overlooks the Hrazdan Gorge. I went there to report that my car stereo had been stolen. No real damage was inflicted thankfully, as the thieves managed to break in without smashing any windows. In fact, they went through the vent window, which was screwed shut with a vice-like contraption made of hard aluminum and was simply bent to a 45 degree angle somehow in order to weaken it. Once that was opened the thief simply reached in and rolled down the window, then must have climbed in to remove the stereo, as my car alarm seems only to go off when the doors are opened or when the car is shaken violently.
Below is a transcript of my conversation with Detective Merouj, who is a typical stereotyped wise guy cop right out of evening police story soaps. I will say, however, that he was accommodating, despite his irritation with the renovations taking place at the station. When I met him he was holding a Bjni bottle filled with I believe turpentine, which he was using to clean up something.
Detective Merouj: “Okay, then, come with me. What happened to you?
Me: My car stereo was stolen.
Detective Merouj: When?
Me: About two days ago.
Detective Merouj: Two days ago? Why did you wait two days before you came down here?
Me: Well I had some things to do, and I wasn’t able to come until now.
Detective Merouj: Wait, where are you from, I mean originally?
Me: I’m from America, I’m an Armenian American.
Detective Merouj: Is that what they do over there when someone has something stolen from them—wait two days before they report it?
Me: Well, should I leave?
Detective Merouj: No, why, where would you go?
Me: Home, I guess.
Detective Merouj: No, come in here. Wait a minute. Sarkis, when are you going to finish up in here? Should we use this room or go somewhere else? Well, is there anywhere else to go? Okay, forget it, let’s go in here. [We walk into his office.]
You see, we’re doing renovations.
Me: Well that’s good that you’re doing them, isn’t it.
Detective Merouj: Nah, look at what happened with the wallpaper. The wall is showing through already, the paper’s ruined.
Me: That’s not good.
Detective Merouj: I’m disgusted with this situation. We’ve been going through this for 25 days now, with no end in sight. I’m not in the mood. Okay, let’s go over to my desk and write some things down. You have a cell phone with you?
Me: Not with me, but I have one. I can give you my home number too.
Detective Merouj: Okay, well let me take the cell phone number down. [to someone else] Hey get that thing out of here! So anyway, what was it, a car stereo?
Me: That’s right.
Detective Merouj: And it was in your car? What kind of stereo was it, a regular one or one of those that has the front thing that comes off?
Me: The kind with the thing that comes off.
Detective Merouj: Well, why didn’t you take it with you? Let me get you number down so that someone will come to your house later.
Me: My car is just outside if that’s any help to you?
Detective Merouj: What should I do about your car being outside? That doesn’t matter, we’ll have someone go over to your house to check things out. Where was it stolen?
Me: In the back of my apartment building.
Detective Merouj: It was parked around back?
Me: That’s right.
Detective Merouj: What kind of a car is it?
Me: A Niva.
Detective Merouj: Okay. Why are you standing? Sit down over there. [near the desk]
Me: Okay. [sitting down]
Detective Merouj: So do you have the registration for the car stereo?
Me: For the car stereo? I have the car registration, but for the stereo?
Detective Merouj: You don’t have it? Well, wasn’t it you that installed the stereo?
Me: No it was installed when I bought the car, about three months ago.
Another detective: What happened? Are you the one with the stolen car stereo? [standing in the office doorway]
Both of us: Yes.
Another detective: Do you have the registration for the stereo?
Me: No, I don’t. I never knew that such a thing existed. This is the first time I’m hearing about it.
Another detective: Yeah? [walks away]
Detective Merouj: Okay. Do you have official identification of any kind?
Me: Yes, let me give you this. [I gave him my 10-year special residency visa]
Detective Merouj: [looking through it] What is this, a passport? Are you an Armenian citizen?
Me: No, it’s just a 10-year visa, with which I can live and work here.
Detective Merouj: I see. So, your name is Adanalian, Christian Garbis, of Khosroff. Right?
Me: Yes, that’s right.
Detective Merouj: [Writing it down] Of Khosroff… right. So you’re from America? Where from?
Detective Merouj: You speak pretty good Armenian for someone being from there. Are your parents from America too?
Me: Well my father is from Aleppo, in Syria. But my mother was born in there. She’s an Armenian American too.
Detective Merouj: She’s an Armenian lady then. Sarkis where are you going with that? [walks into the porch with a tall ladder, saying nothing] Allright, so you live where? On Nalbandyan?
Me: 3 Nalbandyan, apartment number 18.
Detective Merouj: So in the third building on Nalbandyan, in apartment 18. Right. The car was parked in the back of the building?
Me: Yes, that’s right. Around back.
Detective Merouj: Okay, around back. So we’ll have somebody go over there later on. What’s the licence number of the car? [I tell him]
Huh, I know that car, that number is familiar to me. It’s a Yerevan car, then.
Me: Right it has a Bangladesh [Malatia-Sepastia] number, but I bought it from Vanadzor.
Detective Merouj: Huh. You bought it from Varouj?
Me: From Merouj.
Detective Merouj: [Thinking] Huh. Well, I don’t know….
Do you have a cell phone number I can reach you at?
Me: Sure I do.
Detective Merouj: Okay, let me take that down. Don’t you have a home phone as well?
Me: Sure I do. You want that?
Detective Merouj: Yeah, let me take down both. Okay, what’s your home phone, then your cell phone? [I tell him and he writes it down].
So when they entered your car… don’t you have an alarm?
Me: Yes I do. It didn’t go off.
Detective Merouj: But was it enabled? You had it on?
Me: Yes, I did. That’s the surprising thing.
Detective Merouj: Then why didn’t it go off? You’re car is parked outside you said? Can you make it go off from here?
Me: I don’t know, let me look. [I walk over to the porch windows]. No, it’s on the other side of the building, in the parking area.
Detective Merouj: Oh yeah? [hesitates] So they just pulled the stereo out? They didn’t break anything?
Me: No, nothing. They were nice thieves, tricky but nice….
Detective Merouj: [Looks at me] Yeah, well, what can I do? Okay, let’s go out there and check your car out. [we leave the building]
Where did you say it was?
Me: It’s over there, in the parking lot. [We walk over to my car, I disengage the alarm]
Detective Merouj: No, leave it on. I want to check something. [Begins shaking the car]
Me: It’s not going off now, I don’t understand.
Detective Merouj: Wait, let’s see here. [pounds on the roof, the alarm goes off] Do you see? So the alarm only goes off when the car is hit hard and when the doors are opened, probably. So how did they get in?
Me: Well, you see this vent window? They broke this thing here—I’ve sinced changed it and put a stronger one on. Then they reached in and simply opened the window.
Detective Merouj: Let me have those keys. This car is the kind where the rear cargo door opens from the inside?
Detective Merouj: [examining the door lock] Change these caps on the door lock.
Detective Merouj: Because they’re worn out. Don’t you see here [pointing to it] With this door key you have—anyone with a similar key can manage to open the door.
Me: So I should change the whole lock, or just the cap?
Detective Merouj: Just these caps on both doors. They’re only a few cents. You can take the car somewhere and have them change it for you.
Me: Okay, I’ll do that.
Detective Merouj: Listen, why are you driving this? Why don’t you get a car from a manufacturer?
Me: Because Soviet cars are the best for Armenia. Where ever you go in Armenia you can manage to find someone who can fix it if it breaks down. Don’t you agree?
Detective Merouj: No, get a foreign car. They’re better.
Me: But they’re harder to fix. Say I have a Volkswagon and I go to Artic. If it breaks down there, who's going to fix it?
Detective Merouj: Get a Jeep, an American one.
Me: It’s the same thing. No one will be able to fix it, there are no expert mechanics there.
Detective Merouj: Who said so? I don’t believe that.
Me: Okay, let’s go out there and see.
Detective Merouj: Okay, we’ll go. What the hell are you doing in Artic, anyway?
Me: I’m just giving an example, that’s all.
Detective Merouj: Anyway, someone will be with you later on, they’ll call you to let you know….
Me: Okay, thank you very much for your help.
Detective Merouj: You’re welcome. You see, you bought your car from Merouj, and now Merouj is sending you on your way. Right? [smiling]
Me: That’s right, thanks again.
Detective Merouj: Okay, we’ll call you….
Labels: Personal Experiences