Loud Murmurs

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.“— Mahatma Gandhi

Petty Theft

I should have been more on guard. I should have handed my wallet to Pam, who was outside the dressing room. Instead, all it took was less than 4 seconds, while I shifted attention to her, modeling the shorts I was thinking of purchasing, for some guy to dive into the dressing room, rifle through my jeans, and grab it.

I realized the theft of my wallet in almost as short a time, but it was already too late. The guy (and I know it was a guy, as it was the men’s Fitting Room area) was already long gone. There were no witnesses, of course. So, we hurried back home, where I:

  1. Called my bank to cancel all of my credit cards that I had with them as well as my ATM card
  2. Called the Vancouver Police Department, where I reported the theft and got a case number
  3. Called the bank back and told them the case number. They needed this because apparently the thief had enough time to pay for parking with one of the cards before we canceled it.
  4. Called the other credit card companies with my card information. This included 2 other companies.
  5. Filled out a replacement form for my Health Care Card (with a cheque for $20)
  6. Meanwhile, Pam contacted the Building Super, and had my door access card deactivated.

There will be more to do in the coming days. I can get a temporary ATM card at the bank on Monday, and another $17 will pay for a replacement driver’s license. There was about $50 cash in the wallet, which is fairly typical, and that will be a total loss. I’ll also have to pay for the replacement access card for home. Also a bunch of other minor annoyances: A library card I’ll have to get replaced, a card for OneZero Sushi on Pender that I had about 5 stamps in. A Starbucks card with about $5.00 left on it.

All in all, I figure I’ll have lost about $100-150 from this crime. Not to mention getting a sour stomach and a ruined day.

One last metric that I learned from the experience: my case number at the Vancouver Police was 07- followed by a 6 digit number that began 1105. I asked the woman taking my information, and yes, there were some 110,500+ crimes (small, big, or whatever else there can be in between) that were reported (not sure if it was Vancouver only, or outlying areas as well) since New Year’s Day of 2007. Makes you think.

Don’t know whether I’ll go back to Sears or not any time soon. This has certainly made me distrust their security setup.

Update: The guy used $7.85 on the Starbucks card, but I just caught it and cancelled it with $5 left on in my account. Take that, you dirt-bag!


  1. Wow…that sucks David! I can’t think how many times I’ve done exactly the same thing as you did in a change room. I totally remember that sick to your stomach feeling – it’s unmistakable.

    A few years ago, I was just away from desk at the office long enough to walk about 50 feet to the kitchen area and someone grabbed my wallet out of my jacket pocket. I know it wasn’t a coworker because I was the only one in the office (back early from lunch) and considering I was on the 5th floor of a supposedly secured office building, thought I was pretty safe from this kind of thing.

    I estimated it easily cost a few hundred dollars in time and money to replace everything – not to mention the panic feelings and sense of violation.

    The thief ended up getting about $10 in junk food from the snack shop just outside my office (on my corporate card no less).

    What a frickin hassle (for me) for (his) $10 in pop and chips.

    One of the reasons I try not to park downtown anymore (opting for transit) as well is that I had to get a $300 window replaced so that a crook could liberate a sub-$10 flashlight from my car (buried under the seat no less).

    I still can’t comprehend how desperate these people must be to risk everything for the chance at some unknown reward.

    I feel your pain.

  2. Thanks, John. It helps to know that I’m not alone.

    We talk about the quality of life being better here than it was in Boston, and for the most part, that’s been true. The air’s been cleaner, the Parks better kept, the buses and Skytrain are more modern and sleeker than the old and sometimes crumbling ‘T’ and buses we rode there (and don’t even get me started about the food). True, the orchestra is maybe not as famous, and there’s no baseball team to speak of (although I wasn’t a huge baseball aficionado), but it wasn’t until today that I had anything more unpleasant than a lot of rain fall on me. That is sobering.

    I’m going to be visiting the US (East coast) for the longest time since we left, almost exactly 2 years ago. We still don’t regret coming here, but big cities are big cities, wherever you go.

  3. Aw – David – I’m sorry. What a grim experience. Latte’s on me next time we meet! And if it’s worth anything, I’ve twice stopped a theft in action that I witnessed – ie., sometimes, the bad guys get what they deserve. Or at least temporarily stopped in their tracks. And also for what it’s worth, it’s preferable to be in your shoes than theirs: something soul destroying must go on every time a person steals. You get to carry on with life, after the hassle. They have to live with a a diminished self. Small comfort, and way too philosophical, but, still…

  4. Sorry to read about your experience, David . . . What a hassle to get all the stuff replaced. As Nancy noted, hopefully The Universe will repay the thief in kind.

    Would that have been the Sears on Robson?

  5. Sorry to hear about that. Yes, it’s a terrible feeling, not to mention the hassle. My car was broken into – in Dorchester actually! – while I was at a concert years ago. It was so odd to know that someone had been my car rifling through my things. But, that pales in comparison to 2000 when our house in Minneapolis was broken into. We lost over $10,000 worth of stuff from food to shampoo to clothing to almost all of our jewelry – from class rings to diamonds that had belonged to our grandparents. I think the worst loss, though, was the necklace I was wearing in my baby pictures. I’ve often wanted to sit down
    with the dumbf***ks and say, “So, what’d you get for that, $5?”
    Anyway, I share that just so that you know that some of your readers in the blogosphere know exactly how much it sucks!

  6. It’s really too bad David. I was bummed when I read your status from Facebook (through Twitter). Even my wife was bummed about it too. Nope, VanGroovy and Canader is certainly not a nice safe place where people play hockey and live in igloos. It has ugliness just like ANYWHERE else.

    And it always happens to good people. Damn.

  7. That’s bad David. You never think anything like this will happen to you and when it does you feel terrible over it.

  8. Thanks so much to everyone for the sympathy and understanding. It’s been a little less than 36 hours since the theft, and I’m pretty much recovered. Pam is still quite upset, but hopefully she’ll be better as the week goes on and we get back into our routines.

    It’s easy to forget that we live in a place with a lot of good but some bad. We took one of our evening walks through Vanier park and I shot some photos of the sunset. We saw herons, swifts swarming to eat the bugs, rays of sunlight on the water, and 4 homeless people. It was a reminder that this is reality, that there is still poverty and suffering, despite the nature and the pretty pictures.

    Yesterday as I went to sleep, I kept thinking of the guy using my Starbucks card, my cash, going through my cards, perhaps even trying to get another card using one of them as ID. Did I plug every hole? Did I keep him from doing more damage? I’m not sure.

    At any rate, I’m determined not to stop trusting people, but I am going to be a lot more careful in similar situations. I got sloppy, and sometimes you have to get a reminder not to be. I got mine.

  9. Makes you think about how dependent you are on a few pieces of plastic…

  10. Indeed. Some day it will just be some sort of RFID implant that’s injected into one of our thighs. Oh boy.

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