Piracy of the high street has been the scourge of Britain for centuries, but has been dying out for many years. However, in 2020, it is making a comeback, thanks to the economic devastation and empty streets caused by coronavirus.
Geoff Brownbeard has been a pirate since he ran away from home aged 17. "I were attracted to the pirate lifestyle. Sailing a fine ship and stealing booty is the greatest joy a man can know. Not to mention the rum and the sodomy."
Brownbeard is Huddersfield's most wanted man. CCTV footage from the last month shows him ram-raiding seven different shops in his three-masted schooner, the Big Booty. During the attacks on retailers including Primark and Greggs, Brownbeard is said to have looted over £37 worth of goods.
Each time the police were unable to catch the speedy ocean-going vessel. Policeman Harry Bollocks explained, "We only have rowing boats, and it's hard work scraping the oars over concrete. We've no chance of catching a sailing ship." Bollocks has requested that Huddersfield Police purchase a fast clipper in order to chase the pirates, but the department are sceptical, and don't have the budget.
Meanwhile, Brownbeard showed me his hideaway in Huddersfield Shopping Centre Car Park, and introduced me to the crew of his ship. Due to coronavirus, most of them are wearing their eyepatches over their mouths. "We've got to social distance," said Brownbeard. "Only one man can walk the plank at a time these days." He also showed a treasure chest full of rotting Gregg's pasties that he hopes to bury in a nearby manhole.
Yet Brownbeard is not the only pirate in town. During the coronavirus lockdown, the number has estimated to have increased exponentially. "It's a sad fact," said piracy expert, Jack Statts. "In fact, Huddersfield now has the highest Arrr! number in the whole of the UK."
Police are continuing to investigate.