Friday, December 5, 2008

When You Become the Victim

As I noted in the previous blog post, I love reading mysteries that involve varying levels of crime. But last night, for the first time in my life, I was the victim of a crime.

A few of us had gone to a nearby large city for our company Christmas dinner. My friend parked her vehicle in the (very well-lit and central) parking garage across the street from the restaurant. When we came out to the parking garage four hours later, the passenger side window was shattered and my briefcase-satchel was gone. Purloined. Missing. Snatched. Stolen.

Inside the satchel was my watch, my jump drive, and my checkbook, among a few books (of course) and papers. Not to mention the Eddie Bauer satchel itself, which I loved because it was the perfect size for my things and very durable. I've traveled with it all around the world. Luckily nothing too valuable was in there but nonetheless I was upset that some lowlife felt entitled to my things (and I felt bad for my friend who had to get her window replaced). So I spent all morning today getting a new bank account, stopping payment on the remaining checks in my book, and all of the other measures one takes after being the victim of a crime. I will get a copy of the police report in a few days so I have it in case there are any problems down the road.

I have traveled in more than 40 US states and 25 countries around the world, including places like Egypt and Mexico and Zimbabwe. I've spent time in Los Angeles, Orlando, Little Rock and New York. I spend a lot of time in Chicago. Nothing has ever happened to me. I've always felt safe. Theft happens to other people, not me.

Or so I thought.

Just a week ago one of my best friends had his computer and some cash snatched from his Chicago apartment. It was upsetting, but I thought Hey, it's Chicago. It could happen. But it was very strange. And now, a week later, I had my own similarly upsetting experience.

I don't know if it's the bad economy, or just plain old entitlement and thuggery, but taking something that doesn't belong to you is despicable. And being made the victim is truly a violation of privacy and human decency. One thing for sure is that I certainly do appreciate our law enforcement officers more than ever. Most of them work very hard to make sure criminal activity does not go unpunished, and the officer who responded to our incident made a telling comment. He said: "Why would these thieves go out and get a job, when they can just take things from people who do have a job?" That's so true. And sad.

This is to whoever took my things: I hope you find fulfillment in your life beyond the cowardly acts of a petty thief. If you need money to support yourself and your family, or you need help to free yourself from an addiction to drugs or gambling, there are plenty of organizations that will help you. No one deserves to be victimized because of the choices you make. Thievery is one of the lowest forms of existence. You only have one life to live: Make it count. Do something you can be proud of, and that your mother can be proud of.