Monday, May 18, 2015

A Thief Among Us

I have read more blog articles than I can count regarding travelers' experiencing theft on the road.  Usually it's some far of country and I sit behind my screen, soaking up their misery vicariously and shaming their offender in my mind.  I was niave really, not to think something like this could and would effect us locally.

A week ago Thursday, my purse and phone were stolen from the front seat of my car.  I have so many feelings even now ranging from anger to relief and everything in between.  We're definitely not in Concho anymore.  We were spoiled with living in the middle of no where.  The probability of our car being broken into while we lived in Arizona was miniscle if any.  There we lived on gated land.  I can count on one hand the times "visitors" actually drove through the gate.  Field mice were the biggest threat.  We definitely became more aware of leaving food in the car.  Heck, when we lived in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, we rarely locked our doors.

This particular afternoon, I was enlisted to pick up a client's 10 year old from school.  They also have 1 1/2 year old twins.  Having 3 kids under 3 in car seats is hecktic on a good day.  As I pulled into the "car rider" line an hour long hail storm began.  In that time that passed at least 5 inches of hail accumlated on the ground.  My windshield wipers froze.  Fussy kiddos cried from the back seat.  The line crawled along.  Each time I got out to clear the windshield my feet would sink thru the slush into the ice water running beneath, drenching my shoes and clothes becoming soaked by the pelting grauple falling freakishly from the sky.  When my car actually made it to the turn into the school I was flagged down by the child's father.  Luckily, he had her in tow.  Unluckily, my pick up service had been unnecessary.
What the hail?

Though my mood was sour, my task was to get back to the client's home safely with their precious toddler cargo.  Thankful for good tires, I was able to manuver the thick slush successfully.  I credit my many, many years living through Pittsburgh winters for my "mad" weather driving skills.  Arriving to the destination unscathed, I began the tedious unloading of toddlers and car seats.  In the commotion, the car doors were left unlocked.  My purse remained unassumingly on the front passenger seat.

After about 15 minutes of filling the client in on the events of the day, I returned to my car.  I was anxious to get home and get ready for an interview with a perspective client.  Once Truman was secure in his car seat, I settled into the driver's seat and reached over into my purse to grab my phone.  I had wanted to let Brian know we were on our way.  My hand fell through the air to the seat below and in that moment I realized my purse was gone.

I didn't instantly assume the worst.  I went back to the client's door and asked if I might have left my purse inside.  I checked in the garage by the kids' car seats.  It was when I had searched all the usual suspects with no avail that panic began to set in.  I wasn't particularly worried about fraudulent spending, but the overwhelming thought of replacing everything from debit cards to social security cards loomed ahead of me.  And the phone calls...police, financial, verizon customer service, all of our auto debits...anxiety provoking to say the least!

I felt the call to the authorities a bit of a dead end.  My case wasn't violent or life threatening, so it wasn't a priority.  I was given the impression that any leg work would need to be done my me if I was going to recover my stolen items.  I began combing the neighbors trash cans, speaking with local business owners and checking their dumpsters.

All avenues turned up empty.  Calls to my financial institutions showed no attempted use on my cards.  Verizon assumed the suspects had turned off my phone and that is why my tracking application was not producing results.  Defeated, I gathered Truman and decided to head home.  My clients had been kind enough to replace the money in my wallet plus a little extra in exchange for future sitting, aleviating the immediate financial need.

I pulled out of their driveway and came to the intersection.  In a split second decision, I decided to search the trash cans on the next block.  A few houses from the end a neighbor was pulling out of his driveway.  He commented on my "dumpster diving" and I quickly explained about my purse.  He offered to keep a look out and then continued on his way while I continued searching garbage cans.  A few feet up he stopped and got out.  He called back to me..."It's here!"  He had found my purse and it's contents dumped in a side yard at the end of the block.

I quickly checked the items remaining.  Everything, but my phone was present and accounted for...even the money.  I recall screaming as if I had won the lottery and then hugging this kind stranger in thanks!    

The purse it self (aside from my phone) was quite possibly more valuable than all it's contents.   It was a replacement for my diaper bag that had broken a few months back, a gift from a friend.  Inside were diapers, a change of toddler clothes, and a couple of toys.  I'm hoping the theives were disappointed with their bounty and that is why they threw it away.
The infamous purse

Though the outcome was more positive than negative, I am still reliving the panic this experienced induced.  I don't think I realized how dependent I have become on my phone.  It contains my life and has been the hardest loss to overcome.  Due to it's confiscation I missed a promising interview.  I have had no response from my attempts at contacting this perspective employer. In addition, the deductible for my phone was more than anticipated and definitely outside our budget for the month of May.  Sadly, my perfectly functional phone is likely in the trash somewhere locally, unusable...Thank you, no thank you...Apple!

I wouldn't wish this experience on anyone, but if I had to be the one...I'm glad I had an amazing support system.  I can't thank my clients enough!  From phone use, to occupying Truman during my own melt down to giving us money (a portion of which I used at McDonald's for dinner, because who feels like cooking after their purse is stolen).  What a load of drama!  Grateful is an understatement!

In addition, Wells Fargo was amazing.  I was able to cancel my card and account and then reopen a new account all over the phone.  I was also able to recieve a temporary debit card from a local branch to use until my personalized replacement arrived.  Verizon's service was decent.  They were able to deactivate my phone and suspend charges on my line until the phone is replaced.  Though the experience has made me a bit skeptical about the monthly insurance plan I pay for each month.  At $10 a month over the course of 2 years, I am already shelling out $240 whether or not I ever replace my phone in that time.  When I signed up, I was advised a replacement deductible would be $99.  Verizon then stated over the phone it would be $149, while the insurance company verified their records showed a payment of $169 would be necessary to replace the phone.

I'm hoping this is the end of our string of unfortutnate events for a while.  After two weeks of illness, armegedon like weather, and then this debacle, we are ready for a break!  Fortunately, a local friend offered us a "parents day out" and we have taken her up on our offer.  Brian and I are headed out, just the two of us, on a much needed date.