By Jennifer Burns
Have you ever had something stolen from you? From your house, the gym, or even the fridge at work?
It’s not the best feeling. You feel confused, upset, and empty. Normally, these feelings are followed by angry, violated, and then retaliatory. You wonder why people steal or why it happened to you.
Well, this weekend, someone stole my car—yep, the whole thing. From bumper to trunk, (somewhere Rebecca Black is singing: “…Front seat, back seat, where are you going to sit NOW?”)
So, I was home visiting for Mother’s Day and managed to get to bed at a decent time Saturday night. Our dog started barking at 2am and my mom woke up to find my car missing from the driveway.
I jumped out of bed as she dialed 911. My dad got dressed and went off to find the crooks. My mom is asking me several questions about my car. “Jen, how many miles were on your car? Jen, when was it painted?” The police report questions were painful and mind-numbing. Each one served as a realization that my car was missing. And at 3am, I was hoping it was all just a bad dream.
No sooner did we hang up from filing the police report, did my dad call to say he FOUND the car and the thieves! Dad to the rescue! They had pulled into a convenience store right around the corner from our house. Apparently, they thought they had enough time to stop for snacks.
My car was returned, minus a few of my precious belongings. The thieves grabbed some things of value and others of no value, from my entire CD collection (yes, I still listen to CD’s) to a lint roller (really?).
You may be wondering what happened to the crooks–sadly, they got away before the police arrived. They are still roaming the streets.
During the long—and quiet—drive home, the incident made me think twice about what I keep in my car, and moreover, what I would do if I lost more than my car.
Here are a few suggestions to protect yourself, in case this happens to you:
- Avoid opening mail in your car. Besides junk, mail normally includes bills, ID numbers, account numbers and other personal information. Make sure to destroy credit card offers through a paper shredder. You can also go the extra mile, call the company and request they stop sending them to you. You’ll be doing the environment a favor, too.
- In a safe but easily accessible place, keep a list of all credit card company and bank phone numbers and contact information. These are found on the back of your credit cards. If your wallet or purse is stolen, you will need the list to cancel your cards immediately.
- If you value your music collection, make sure to create a copy somewhere at home. I wish I had uploaded those wonderfully odd mixes from friends to my computer before this happened.
- 4. Consider installing a tracking device in your car. These average about $100.00USD, which may seem a bit pricey, but you can find your car if it is ever borrowed without your permission.
- Don’t keep family photos, planners, computers, or other personal memorabilia in your car. The criminals may use this information to their advantage, especially if they find old mail or other important information.
- Install and use a “vault” on your computer. This way if someone steals your computer or device, you can prevent them from accessing your personal files.
- Put something on your car that makes it identifiable. They did remove a sticker but didn’t remove my license plate holder. Anything that helps your car stand out would help (including if you have been in a minor fender-bender).
- Park in a well-lit and populated area. This is more of a common sense reminder. It is much more difficult to steal something when it’s lit well for all to see.
- Write down your VIN number. Your VIN (vehicle identification number) is the long unique code each car has. They will ask you for this number in the police report.
Despite the loss of some priceless belongings, I am so happy (and lucky) to have my car back. Sometimes we need to be hit across the head before we take precautions, but I hope you can learn from my mistakes.
(And a big thanks to ma, pops and boona bear.)