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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