i Editor's Letter: Piotr Mikewicz 'have-a-go' heroism may not have been entirely in vain


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The Independent Online

Most of you will never have heard of Piotr Mikewicz. Why would you? To many, the name represents just another East European immigrant, a man who earlier this week was going about his everyday business as a street cleaner on a road that could have been yours. In fact, it was only about five streets away from mine. It's a job many British people appear not to want. Hence the need for immigrants.

On Wednesday afternoon, Mr Mikewicz became suspicious of activity at a house on the road he was sweeping and, say police, confronted a burglar. Locals said Mr Mikewicz wielded his broom, but suffered a stab wound to his chest. He died the next day in hospital surrounded by family. He was 40 years old and newly married. The burglar had been carrying two laptops, one of which he dropped, smashing it.

Mr Mikewicz was popular with local residents; he was part of the community. Like many others, that community is sick and tired of burglary, usually committed for drugs money, more recently as a gang initiation.

Our neighbours were burgled last week and it's already happened to us. No one was hurt, but don't underestimate the lasting trauma, especially to young children or the old (my Ma once had four masked men kick in her front door - while she was in! Luckily, neighbours disturbed them). Goods are replaceable, sentimental objects are not. Nor is peace of mind. We need the police to care more about such acts.

I cannot say Piotr's 'have-a-go' heroism was worth it. It cost him his life. But perhaps it was not entirely in vain. Not if enough people honour his name and courage and unite to fight such mindless, destructive criminality. Piotr Mikewicz, local street cleaner, national hero.