GREAT TAMNY PIECE: GEN ZERO REPEATS GEN X
.....HAVE YOUR CAR VANDALIZED AND PURSE (OR OTHER VALUABLES) STOLEN. BE AWARE. It happened to me Saturday.
Looking back, it was probably overdue. I learned a good, rock hard lesson. Thuggery.
My training hikes in the park several times a week always involve: parking car near a safe trail access, stowing purse under a blanket on the floor of the back seat, putting car keys, cell phone and pepper spray in a small pack to take with me, locking car, and hitting the trail. I did it like clock work last Saturday when I met a friend to hike at 11 AM----though we met much later than normal----which may be pivotal since we usually go between 7-8 AM, long before most burglars have thought of getting up to start their day of thievery.
We walked two hours then returned to the parking area. She got into her car and drove off, while I dilly dallied around before getting into mine. When I finally unlocked my car and slipped my key into the ignition I noticed little shards of tinted glass all over the front dashboard and looked up to see if the rear view mirror had been damaged or fallen from its perch above me
Then it dawned: Turn. Look back. Shatterered glass was everywhere. Everywhere. Back window destroyed. Purse stolen along with drivers license, check card, national park pass, Costco card, and $45. Big rock on back seat.
I called 911. Waited an hour for a police officer. Called a friend who found my bank's customer service number to cancel my debit/credit card even before police arrived. Warned other hikers at the parking area.
WHAT THE POLICE OFFICER TOLD ME:
A kind, burly, good humored black park police officer finally showed up. He told me the following most likely scenario:
1) Thief was likely a man between 18-30 seeking extra money for recreational booze or drugs for the weekend. Sometimes a gang of thieves come in big groups from other cities and divvy up and work the territory for a week or two before moving on to other cities.
2) Thief/vandal staked out parking lot either sitting or lurking in tinted-glass car/SUV----or hiding in the woods on a nearby hill-- watching -the comings and goings of hikers who were mostly women.
3) He saw me drive up, stow my purse on the back floor, then leave the area with a friend. Thieves don't break into cars unless they know there's bounty to be had. They usually go for a woman's car in parking lots of parks, rarely breaking in unless they know the sex of the 'victim.' We all need to look around when we arrive somewhere to see if there's anything jumps out as suspicious.
4) Once the thief knew my purse was stowed inside, it was pointless for me to lock my car doors, since all it took was a big rock to crash the window and snatch it out.
1) Leave your driver's license and credit cards at home unless you're going shopping, then pack it and take it all with you when you leave the car. If it makes you feel better, bring a copy of your license and several dollars in your pack.
2) Take out any and all valuables from the car, especially purses, expensive camera equipment, iPhones etc. Don't store them there on trips unless absolutely necessary.
3) Organize yourself and belongings while you're at home, rather than being seen regrouping by thieves in parking areas.
4) Leave your car unlocked and a window partially down to potentially avoid a broken window and shattered glass everywhere.
5) Carry a personal defense device with you at all times. I always carry pepper spray on the trail. However, the police officer said I should keep it---or a hand gun (!)---handy at all times, wherever I am.
On Monday, I got my license, bank card and damaged windows replaced. It was a time-consuming pain but had to be done. On Tuesday, I went back to the park a bit wiser for the lessons learned.
Now I may be a tad bit more savvy and ready for the long holiday season ahead. Hope you are too.