Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Things are looking up

These tulips from last spring just made me smile, as I looked for a nice picture to dress up my blog post. Hope they do the same for you. Things are indeed looking up, since today the window on my car got fixed, I have a new bank account, and the insurance claim has been completed with my insurer. Although the replacement of the window didn't meet the deductible, it feels so NICE to have my car usable (and invisible) again. I also got my driver's license renewed and drove around today in my repaired car, the first day since "it" happened last Saturday. So yes indeed, I am feeling so much better today. My insurer even paid for the cost of the stolen chocolate bar.

Last night I also slept the best I have in days. Some of my blogging friends have real difficulty sleeping, so today I am feeling much more understanding, after two nights of anxious tossing and turning. Last night, however, I turned a corner, and today my life feels like it's getting back on track. I can actually start thinking about other things. I've learned some valuable lessons. Here are a few.

This kind of theft is increasing exponentially as people get more desperate. The thieves ALWAYS fill their car with gas as their first move. A red flag is when they fill two or three cars all at once. Women are often targeted, because they carry a purse and usually leave it in the car when exercising. They watch for that. The trunk is a better option, but the police told me if I leave valuables there that I place it BEFORE arriving at my destination, so that nobody sees me open the trunk. Covering your valuables with a coat or a pillow is also a red flag to the thieves.

Women in grocery stores are a target because they leave their purses in the basket as they peruse the shelves. This is when they will walk right up and take your purse while your back is turned. The policeman told me of a woman just today who accidentally left her wallet at Home Depot, and by the time she found where it was, more than $2100 had been charged to her account.

There are two kinds of theft: property and identity. Both are felonies, but identity fraud needs to be handled separately, since police cannot take your word for what happened, your bank needs to give you a detailed report of what happened with your cards so you can make a separate fraud report. The only important thing I still have to do is to get ahold of annualcreditreport.com and use their free report to find if anybody is trying to set up new accounts in my name. They offer a free 30-day fraud alert to make sure nobody is trying to steal my identity. That's my task for this week.

What I am hoping is that my misfortune will serve to warn some of my beloved community to protect yourself from this happening to you. The biggest shock I received today when I turned in the police report is to learn that here, in Bellingham, more than 40 to 50 of these thefts happen every single day! With the police departments being cut back, there are fewer and fewer enforcement officers to follow through to catch these criminals. They get away with it, sometimes until they must feel they are entitled to our stuff. What can we do to change this scary trend?

One of the most important things I've learned in the last few days is that yes, it's a violation of my life, but move on and do not let myself become a victim of identity fraud! The number of people who have told me of their own experiences makes me realize that suspicion is a more reasonable response than trust when somebody calls, or emails, or pretends to be offering something that seems too good to be true.

If you can convince me that this is the wrong choice, I'm all ears. You will be talking to a disillusioned Pollyanna...


  1. I hope you changed the locks on your car, too! Here in Hawaii, there have been reports of home invasion. The most recent one happened during a xmas party. The men entered the unlocked house with guns, stole everyone's valuables, computer, TV, etc., and even shot a man in the leg. I always lock the doors now.

  2. i am glad you can see the good things out of this...and warning others...sorry you have lost sleep...ack...

  3. It sounds like you are well onyour way to etting this mess settled. Hopefully this will be the end of it.
    I certainly thing misturst is a reasonable outcome from this experience. As poverty increases, more and more people turn to crime for survival. Add that to those who steal to pay for their drug habit, and we have a big problem. It's just a matter of time until anyone of us has a similar experience.

  4. How about being vigilant? It sounds more neutral than being distrustful, eh?
    We have way more positive interactions all day, than negative ones. Sometimes the negative ones are more memorable...but that's because they're more rare.

  5. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
    I am really happy that you feel that you are getting your life back on track.
    Cyber hugs.

  6. Glad to hear you are moving on and getting some sleep. One step at a time. It will all be okay eventually:)

  7. You have made one key comment. Cutbacks have been made to police. The only thing bad guys are afraid of is getting busted. They don't care about jail...just getting caught. so we have to have more police not less.
    Yes there are many good things we can do to protect ourselves but bad guys still can eat us. Probably the bad guys learned some new tricks in prison
    Good to hear that some normality is returning to your life.

  8. I think it is a necessary thing to remain suspicious or vigilant given the times, but even more than this I think it would behoove us all to look at just what it is that is causing people to blatantly steal from their neighbors. I mean we could keep asking for more and more police but is it ever going to be able to reckon with that exponential rise in crime you mentioned. Why is this happening?

    I don't know. It makes me sad this happened to you DJan. I just wonder if there is anything we might do or learn by looking at it from the perpetrator's eyes.

    Meanwhile, I will remember to not carry a purse and keep my cards in my pockets. I only wonder how long it may be before I am not seen as an obstacle to my pockets. I hope I have passed on before that ever happens.

  9. I'm glad things are looking up. You have good advice to share.

    One fraudulent call that I've had 3 times now is from someone who says that my computer has been compromised with a virus. I play along, asking "oh really? how do you know?" And they say some BS about being able to detect it from their offices and if I give them my address they can come and repair it for me. I tell them that they're wrong and they go on to convince me that it's true. Eventually I tell them they must be mistaken because I don't have a computer. ;) Click!

  10. I'm glad things are looking up for you. I had to smile when I read that the cost of the chocolate bar was covered by insurance. Sorry to hear the window replacement didn't meet the deductible.

    Thank you for sharing the lessons learned. I think we must all be vigilant. I have gotten so I don't take my purse with me when we go walking. I don't trust leaving it in the car. We live in crazy times.

  11. I'm glad to hear a more positive tone in your post. I'm happy to hear you've gotten so much settled so quickly.

    I try to be vigilant but know that I slip up sometimes. I am particularly wary when it's just me and the kids because it takes me longer to get in the car with the doors locked when i've got to strap both of them in their car seats first. I don't leave my purse in the car and never set it in the cart for fear of someone grabbing it. There's so much scary stuff out there that it's easy to be disillusioned or to become a skeptic. I try not to focus on it too much, otherwise I'd never want to leave the house.

    The tulips are as gorgeous as can be!

  12. I pity the fool who steals my identity. Wait till he finds out I pee a little when I sneeze.

  13. I'm glad to hear you are getting your life back to normal DJan. I am also glad to hear you have gained knowledge from the experience. I had a brief case taken from my car when I lived in Anchorage. Another time someone took my brief case out of a shopping cart (this is when I was a sales rep for P&G). Both times they realized there was nothing valuable and left it not far away so both were recovered.

    Also if you don't own a shredder get one. Never put anything in the trash that could be used to steal your identify.

    Yes, out weather is very much like yours. It is in the fifties and at the moment pouring rain and very windy.

  14. I'm pretty suspicious of people who call too.

    You've suffered a horrible experience, but you're really kind to pass on what you've learned, DJan. Thank you very much. I used to do exactly what you do, but I'll be more careful now.

    I was at an After Christmas sale last year at Walmart and a woman left her bag in her shopping cart while she walked around down the aisle. It boggled my mind. I finally went over and told her she should be careful. Sheesh!

  15. I guess we can't be too careful or suspicious when out and about shopping, but we had our car relieved of a roll of quarters while in our back yard and a granddaughter's side window was once broken in their drive...seems the crimes are spreading out to the quiet country settings too!

  16. I was born in a time period when you trusted your neighbour, your milkman, the postman, taxi driver, school teacher, minister/priest, etc,etc,etc. We are now in a time period when we must be vigilant/distrustful, always wary in shopping mall parking lots, etc. My Mother once said to the ladies she had over for tea one day - "My Goodness, the world has changed so much" - we're starting to lock our doors and there are robberies right on the street". Now, looking back, I can only add, "My Goodness, the world has changed yet again - my little ole neighbour(older senior citizen) was in house robbed, tied to a chair till someone found her and all they got was $12 bucks". Its a big joke to the robbers, now they just do not want to rob you, they hurt you too. Its not just a matter of having more Police Officers. Its a matter of harsher punishment, instead of the ankle bracelet in your home punishment. That's a real joke, eh
    Good to hear you are on the mend DJan, and sleeping - you are a girl that moves on, so you will be fine.
    I love the photo of the Tulips - beautiful.

  17. Glad to see the tulips!! You have learned a lot. I had no clue the first thing they do is buy gas, but then gas has become a more precious commodity.
    A shredder is a good idea, too--against identity theft.
    I guess I didn't even think about the fact that I never leave my purse in the cart at the store anymore like we did years ago, or in the car, and that I always lock my doors even when I am home. I like to think of it as just being pragmatic, you know? Common sense these days is different than it was when I was young.
    Sorry you lost some sleep. I know it sucks. I hope you will be back on track and in your routine again now. *big hugs*

  18. One part of society continues to hone their skills to defraud, steal, dupe, and rip off. Why they don't put as much energy into working to make society as a whole a safer, cleaner, more caring place is beyond me. It must take lots of work to learn and practice to be a successful crook. Like you, many of us have learned to be diligent and wiser the hard way. It is a shame we have to look at strangers as potential muggers, robbers, and worse. When I first heard your story I was so thankful you were not near your car when it was broken into. You at least are safe and unhurt.
    And someone brought you chocolate and you insurance paid for a new candy bar. Way cool.

  19. Oh darlin', I just read your Christmas Eve post. My heart goes out to you. This is something that just takes some time to get over.

    Thanks for tips.

    Hopefully you can get this horrific ordeal behind ya.

    God bless and have a good New Year sweetie!

  20. The tulips certainly reflect your getting back on track! Here in South Florida, these crimes are all too common.

  21. Glad to hear you're moving on. And thanks for passing along your lessons learned.

  22. Unfortunately, in this day and age it is safer to be suspicious than trusting. It is a sad commentary on our society but a definite reality. I'm glad you've decided not to be a victim and take a more proactive stance. So many people tend to stay in victim mode and ultimately find themselves in deeper trouble.

  23. I am glad to hear you are starting to feel a little better. We all need to be more cautious. Times are desperate for a lot of people and they will do anything to make money. It is scary and sad knowing how much society has changed. Can't trust anyone anymore.

  24. Thanks for the good tips. I will have to try to be vigilant. It is so unfortunate that we have to be so on guard against criminals. I'm not a Pollyanna, but there are days when reading headlines is depressing, I try to find something more uplifting to fill my time. I hope you have had the last of experiences like that one.

  25. I am so sorry for what you have gone through but am happy to hear you slept well last night. Thanks for keeping us informed and please stay safe and enjoy the rest of the holidays....:-) Hugs

  26. I read your post with interest. Thank you for sharing it with us. Let's hope none of us needs to refer to it in the future! I'm glad you're feeling better now. Hope you get over it soon. Just hope the perpetrators get their comeuppence soon!!!

  27. Love the picture of the tulips on of my favorite flowers, hard for me to grow to others easy peasy, sorry for all that crap that happened to you in the most beautiful and mellow place we know here in washington state.oh, my god, I was mad as hell to read your blog of what happened to you, I had my purse stolen right in the grocery store the chain my hubby retired from after over 33 years of faithful, honest hard working for them..it was such a shock but nothing like the report I made out and the clerk who was losing her job told me most never report it as it is the most common crime and to boot, she shared where she won't
    ever shop I don't frequent those grocery stores...I did learn since the economy is in the toilet these crimes are so common the police put them on low priority so when I go anywhere I am vigilant about anything a thief could get from me and my hubby...Since meph addiction is high here and drugs, alcohol dependency one never knows who is out of it and needing a fix, we are vigilant indeed..Too bad some jerk or jerks thought to harm you in such a crappy way!!!! I believe in Karma what goes around comes around and it looks like peace, joy and love is coming to you after this bunch of crap happened...sorry for the language I say it as I see it and I am old hippy..peace surely is hard to get to after one has been invaded by a thief for whatever they took, money, possessions and piece of mind tooooooo! Happy New Year, we just celebrated our last day of Hanukkah I will pray for peace for you and much love and joy in one of the prettiest and mellowest places in all of the state of Washington!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  28. I am pleased you are feeling better and that you will be vigilant in the future. I had my new camera stolen while at the top of the Milan cathedral when I was 18, then when I was 20 my new camera was stolen from the car while on the French Riviera, so now I never leave my camera anywhere – if I have it, it stays with me. I have traveled to many countries but the only time something was taken from me again was in the US – but I know it can happen anywhere. Here in the Atlanta area there are many home invasions – lately, expensive homes of Indian people (east Indians.) It is sad.

    Your tulips are lovely- a soft shade of pink and full of the promise of next spring – it makes one feel better looking at them.

  29. I agree with your conclusion, I am actually quite a suspicious kind of person. But not here where I live; I know everybody and we even leave our doors open (forgetfulness rather than planned)

    I'm glad you're able to move on, don't let it sour your outlook too much.

    Happy New Year and I hope that your insurance premium won't rise too steeply!

  30. Because I work for a financial institution, I know fraud is everywhere. Identity fraud is especially prevalent. You might want to have a fraud alert put on your credit report with all three credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax, & TransUnion).

    I'm glad you're moving on, and I'm especially glad your insurance covered the cost of your stolen chocolate bar!

  31. It's terrible that this sort of thing happens. I'm so sorry.

    Thank you for writing this, though. I have some bad habits that I should change--like covering things in my car and putting my purse in the cart even if I'm moving away for a moment. I'm going to heed this advice for sure.

  32. I knew they couldn't keep you down for long. I believe Jefferson said, "Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom." Peter is more attentive than I, and when he reminds me to put something away or lock something up he'll say, "You know, eternal vigilance." I wish you a New Year of many happy, vigilant-but-otherwise-carefree days!

  33. I see your name a lot on some of the other blogs I follow so read about your break-in. This is the first I've had time to comment on it. We have been a bit busy on our week off from work.
    First I am so sorry it happened but am thankful you were not hurt. Second it makes me sooooo mad that those of us who work hard for what we have can have it taken by someone who is either too lazy to work or has no sense of right and wrong. I do feel sorry for their misplaced priorities but I still want to see them punished and have to make restitution of some sort.
    Praise God you are going on with life - - - but you have had to add a lot of activities into your days that you hadn't planned on - - - with repairs, replacements, and watching your finances.

  34. We've had our house, our farm and car broken into and we've had a house fire. In every case we trusted the people(olive, etc) to guide and help us. What we learned is not very encouraging. It seems there's even fraud in those systems.
    Taking from those who have has become a lot more common and it is not the needy who are to blame. It's organized gangs and the like!!
    Good to know you are sleeping well again.

  35. In this day and age, it is always best to err on the side of caution when dealing with phone calls, emails or even people at the door. Identity theft is such a scary thing. My phone company rang me one time with a new replacement mobile phone offer for me and, rather than me having to prove to him that I was the account holder, it ended up where he was having to prove to me that he was legitimate. lol I can't help it, I immediately put walls up when people I don't know start wanting to know personal details. I am still a caring and trusting person but I am learning to trust my inner instincts more and more.

  36. We learned the hard way in my family not to leave anything visible in the car... on a holiday here in Spain 17 years ago my sister left a cd case visible in the backseat. That was all the thieves needed to tempt them to choose breaking into our car instead of someone else's. They emptied out the trunk which contained my parents' suitcases, all their good camera gear and our passports! (fortunately we had already dropped off us kids' suitcases at my grandparents' house, ditto some laudnry bags so my parents had clothes to change into). We had to go up the U.S. consulate in Barcelona to get new passports! Fortunately for us the Consul General there was a friend of ours because he had to vouch for my Dad's identity as we had no other legal documents (birth certificate...) on us! :s

    Since then I never, EVER, leave anything visible in the car. Or open the trunk if there are things in it. Haven't had a problem (car-wise) since then.

    I'm glad your car got fixed Djan! I hope all the ID checks went through ok!


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