I became a crime victim this week. While in the Bay Area for a business meeting, my car was broken into while in the parking lot of a well-established business in a low crime community. The burglar broke a window in the back seat of my car, and got away with a small overnight bag and a laptop computer.
If something like this has happened to you before, you know the routine. An apologetic business manager came out to the parking lot, police were called, a crime report was made, and I began calling my insurance company. While everyone in this chain of people I spoke to was professional and showed empathy, I felt the most compassion from the police officer. Dealing with victims is part of his daily business. He ended his half-hour investigation by handing me his business card and another card titled “rights of crime victims”. I had never thought of myself as a crime victim before. Other than having a bicycle stolen during a concert in college, I’ve gotten through these past few decades relatively free from crime. As I watched two employees at the business apply tape and plastic to where my back seat window once was, I couldn’t help but think about the person or persons responsible.
My perpetrators were probably cruising the business parking lot looking for what might be an easy break-in. They must have been fast as there were no witnesses and the whole thing took place in broad daylight in front of the entrance to the business. They didn’t bother with a couple of sport coats and ties hanging in the back seat. They ignored what I would have considered to be valuable items in the front seat. My stereo was intact, compact discs were untouched, and a digital camera remained with the car. The only thing I valued among the items taken was my writing journal. It is worthless to the criminals, but irreplaceable as far as I’m concerned.
Over the past few days, I’ve grown more thankful that I was nowhere near the scene of the crime. A victim yes, but far removed from the images of victims who are physically and emotionally harmed by the senseless acts of others. I’ve always practiced anti crime measures while traveling. But this time, those safety practices didn’t matter. I’m just glad I wasn’t around when it happened. And I’m glad police cruiser showed up within minutes of our call for help.
I’m fine, and in few days my car will be back to the way it was before that sunny afternoon when someone took advantage of an opportunity. I’ll continue to take precautions when traveling and hopefully, my negative experience will fade into my collective memory of the ups and downs in life. I forgive the bad guys, but I’ll never forget. I’ll get over it.
Steve Newvine lives in Merced