I was recently a victim of what I would categorize as minor crime. I say minor, because I don’t want to alarm anyone or overreact or diminish victims of major crimes. Crimes where people are hurt, or killed or have their lives majorly altered. No, my experience was that of the garden variety auto vandalism and property theft (aka the “smash and grab”, aka they broke my window and stole my shopping bags.) A crime that is sadly becoming very common in big cities and small towns alike.
What I want to share is how this crime affected me and what I chose to take from it. Because having your property damaged and having your purchases stolen affects one beyond the material and surface damage. It’s the violation that gets to you. The fact that someone did you wrong. And for what? A pair of shoes? A bedspread? A bag of make-up from Sephora?
Then come the questions. Why me? Why would someone do this kind of thing to an innocent stranger? I asked this very question when a police officer called to follow up a few days after the incident. Her reply changed my perception completely. In my mind, the thief was intent on ruining my day, damaging my car and stealing my things, in other words, just a nasty blight on society. And while this was essentially accurate, according to the police the thief was likely a drug addict so desperate for a quick hit that they’d steal and sell anything for a few dollars worth of drugs.
My Pottery Barn bedspread became a means to an end for an addicts fix. The nice man at the glass repair shop reinforced this when he shared that another women had her car window shattered for a dixie cup full of change.
That was the eye opener for me. Yes, my car was damaged and my property was stolen, but the criminals motivation is the real tragedy.
So what did I learn?
Realize who the true victim is.
I have insurance. I have a job. I have a nice lifestyle and I am not desperately addicted to drugs. I am not a victim. I was just a person in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Shortly after this happened, I came across an article about a family who had three teenage sons who were addicted to drugs and were bleeding the family dry with rehab expenses. The family had to sell their home, mortgage their smaller home, put medical expenses and food on credit cards and watch as their sons revolved in and out of rehab. These are the victims.
I am not saying that I excuse the person who vandalized my car and stole my property. Not at all. I loathe what they did and am still angry that they took the adorable pair of boots I found on sale at Nordstroms. That was a stab at humor in a bad circumstance, but there is that kernel of truth..
What I am saying is that desperate people do desperate things and I’ll survive this incident – grateful beyond measure that I am not a desperate drug addict, whether by choice or by circumstance.
I try to learn from every life experience, the good and the bad. My experience as a “crime victim” was minor but it opened my eyes to what is going on in our society. Addiction. Poverty. Desperation. It’s everyone’s problem.
Lesson number two: never, ever leave anything of value in view in your car.