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Friday, October 27, 2006

Aggravating Assault

Just what I needed.

I left my office about 4:40 last night, excited about some evening plans (the nature of which will be revealed in a future post) and ready to head to shul for mincha. However, what I saw when I approached my car led to several perplexing and even disappointing observations.

The first thing I noticed was that one of my windows was shattered.



Crap, I thought. Someone has broken into my beautiful car.

But as I got a little closer, I saw that someone was actually sitting in the passenger seat. This could have elicited many reactions. Like maybe I should yell, or run back in the building, or whip out my phone and call 911, or call Mama and Papa Bear.

But the thought that actually emerged was this:

Oh, this is not my beautiful car. That guy is just waiting for someone.

I know, I know. Disappointing is an understatement. I am apparently not the guy you want to have around when quick and decisive thinking is called for.

Of course, that assessment didn't last more than a fraction of a second as I realized, S***! That IS my car! And there's a guy in it!

By then, the guy apparently noticed me coming, and opened the door to get out. To which I said:

"HEY! What the frak are you doing in my car!!"

Intimidating, isn't it? I'm surprised the guy didn't pee his pants. What he did was get into his car and calmly drive away.

In retrospect, it has been pointed out to me that I had a cell-phone camera on my belt and there was plenty of time to snap a picture, but naturally that didn't occur to me as I stared intently at his license plate quickly receding from view.

So, I went back in and called the cops. They came, eventually, but while I waited I got more and more pissed off. First, because I realized that I was going to miss what would probably be the last weekday mincha I could make before the clocks change. Second, because I was now trapped at work at the mercy of the Milwaukee Police response time, which in my experience for this type of crime, has not been very good. And third, my plans for the night, which relied heavily on swapping cars with Mrs. B, were most likely ruined.

While I waited I served myself an additional dose of aggravation, as I discussed repairing the glass with an auto glass specialist, and with my insurance company, the net gist of which was that although it would be expensive to replace the window, it wouldn't be expensive enough for my insurance to pay for it. It would in fact be just a few dollars short of the deductible. Meanwhile rain was pouring into my car as I waited for Milwaukee's Finest to take my report.

Eventually a bright young officer showed up and took a statement from me. And to his credit, he showed significantly more interest that I would have expected.

I, of course, in my vast knowledge of police procedure and crime investigation, was putting a lot of stock in having the perpetrator's (that's what they call the criminal in Police parlance) license plate number. The officer, not so much. He called it in, and confirmed that it was registered to the owner of a '95 Geo. That, unfortunately, was not the car that drove off with the perp. How do you know, he asked me. Because I drive a '94 Geo and, to paraphrase the famous quote on pornography, I know one when I see one (as a side note, a '94 Geo Prizm was apparently stolen from the parking lot of the VA later that night).

So then he asked me to describe the guy. Were you ever in one of those classes where a guy randomly runs through the room, and then somebody comes in and asks you to describe him exactly? I have to confess I never did well in those situations. I would usually write something like Did somebody run throught the room? When?

Some details I had down, like his race, hair (skin head type), approximate size and age. It got fuzzy when he asked me to describe the clothes. Sweat suit...maybe? What color...? Uh...grey...maybe? Possibly some green in there...I mean blue...could have been yellow...hood...? I think...so...Shoes...? Ye....no. Sneakers. Maybe.

He took down the info. He promised he would investigate the stolen plates and file a report.

"So will you call me if you catch him," I asked. He smiled.

As Bill Cosby would say, "Riiiiiiigggghhhht."

40 comments:

A Simple Jew said...

Wow! That is some story, PT.

Soccer Dad said...

My wife told me this morning that one of our friends went out this morning and saw 5 police cars with flashing lights in front of his house.

Apparently a rookie police officer had been negotiating the neighborhood and reading a map while she drove. She managed to hit both their cars.

Sometimes the cops get there right away. Though I guess it might only be when they cause the damage in the first place!

PsychoToddler said...

Two weeks ago, I came out of the shul after maariv and found 5 squad cars blocking off the street in front of the shul, and one other car that was smashed in. I walked over and asked, "accident?"

The cop said, "no, no, nothing like that, just a drug bust."

"Whew," I said as I walked away.

Anonymous said...

Yikes, what agmas neifesh! I guess driving a manual-everything 95 Corolla doesn't make me as safe from criminals as I thought it did! Thankfully you weren't hurt, but I'm sure it was still an awful experience.

Jack's Shack said...

Glad to hear that you were not hurt.

Ozzie said...

Next time call you favorite Uncivilized Barbarian. I would be happy to smite him with the flat side of my broadsword.

Yawp!

PsychoToddler said...

Here's what kills me, RM: The perp parked right between my car, the 94 Geo, and my partner's car, a really nice '05 Camry. And who does he choose to vandalize?? Not that I'd ever wish this on my partner, but talk about setting your sites low!

Jack and Ozzie, too bad you two weren't around. We woulda clobbered him good.

orieyenta said...

I wonder why the heck he was actually sitting inside your car after vandalizing it?

B'H'you weren't hurt.

Ezzie said...

Yeah, I don't get the sitting there either. Was he looking for something?

Perps are often afraid of the alarms on newer cars; it's usually safe to assume that a person with a '94 Geo doesn't have much of an alarm system. (Sorry.)

Neil Harris said...

Sorry, it should be a kapporah.
"Oh, this is not my beautiful car"

I thought the line was "beautiful house"- Once in a Lifetime. lol

cruisin-mom said...

P.T. I'm trying to decide if you were crazy or brave to confront the guy. Thanks goodness you weren't hurt. Sounds like the guy was a bit dazed and confused.

Yaakova said...

I'm so sorry that this happened to your car.
Re. the insurance: if the repair amount quoted by a repair shop is too low, just go to a pricier shop! (Unless you pay a deductible.)

Irina Tsukerman said...

Wow, that must have been scary! Is it VERY unethical that a law student like me is sitting here and laughing about a crime?! : ) That was a hilarious rendition... especially the part about trying to recall what you've witnessed! Anyway, I hope they'll catch the perp.

Baleboosteh said...

Wow, I am just glad you were not hurt in any way!

PsychoToddler said...

Thanks for your concern everyone. I guess the point of the story was that not only didn't I think, but my reactions weren't very helpful either.

I think he was sitting in the car because he had just broken in and hadn't had time to remove the radio before I found him. I would have thought these guys usually just rummage through the car with the door open, but maybe this way he was more inconspicuous, seeing as he was ripping me off in the middle of the day in my parking lot(just one row of cars, really).

Neil: I think you may be right. Same as it ever was.

Ayelet said...

Bummer! Reminds me of a story that happened to my husband a while back when he was still driving his '88 Chevy Celebrity. (It was a little tricky to drive that car. The gas pedal would sorta stick and had to be played with before it worked. The driver's side door deteriorated in a slow progression: first the inside door handle broke off so that you had to roll down the window to stick your hand out and use the outer handle. Then the outer handle would jam and could only be opened from the outside with a special upward-jerk trick, so you had to get out through the passenger side. Eventually the upward-jerk trick broke the outer handle off completely and you had to get in through the passenger side, too. The front bumper fell off and was tied on with a rope. The trunk didn't close so that too was tied with a rope. The antenna had long been gone and was replaced with a twisted wire coat hanger. Oh, and the clincher, you didn't need the key to turn on the ignition. The car was quite the beloved car in yeshiva and guys borrowed it all the time. For dates, though, they borrowed our Camry. I wonder why?) Back to the story. One Sunday morning, my husband came down ready to go to yeshiva. He noticed that the gym bag he usually kept in the back was on the front seat. Thinking that was odd, he glanced into the back window. There, stretched out on the back seat, was a man lying on a pillow my father-in-law happened to have left in the car a while earlier. His shoes were off and he was covered with a coat serving as a blanket. Apparently he was very comfortable because he was sleeping soundly and snoring loudly. Not sure what to do, he considered calling the cops. He changed his mind when he realized it would take them too long to get there and he had to get moving. So he knocked on the window gently and said, "Uh, excuse me?" The guy looked up with sleepy eyes and said, "Oh, sorry, man. Is this your car? I was jus' walkin' aroun' last night an' I was so tired an' the cops told me jus' find a car an' go to sleep. Sorry, sir." With that, he gathered up his things and went on his way!

Such memories. It was tough parting with that Celebrity. Finally, we had no choice when we got a minivan and couldn't afford three cars on insurance (especially since we have only two drivers in the family!) One thing's for sure, no car of ours ever had more character than that Celebrity!

Neil Harris said...

TP: Touche!

PsychoToddler said...

Ayelet: Great story. Gotta love those "yeshiva cars."

Reminds me of my first car, the 74 Apollo. It was falling apart piece by piece too. One day the side mirror flew off as we were driving. The windsheild wipers didn't work so I'd have to stick my head out the window to drive when it rained. And the vinyl roof was peeling so we replaced it with bookbinding tape. Ah, memories.

The Geo is the best car I've ever owned.

Jack's Shack said...

I once caught a guy breaking into my Camaro. It was a bad scene/thing.

Ari Kinsberg said...

pt:

not that this will make you feel better, but at least he only broke the quarter glass. it is cheaper to replace.

raggedymom:

"Yikes, what agmas neifesh! I guess driving a manual-everything 95 Corolla doesn't make me as safe from criminals as I thought it did!"

where i live (brooklyn) no car is safe. period. 3 years ago my 79 dodge was broken into.

yaakova:

"if the repair amount quoted by a repair shop is too low, just go to a pricier shop!"

the other alternative (which of course i do not condone, but such is the custom in brooklyn) is to to take a hammer and destroy the door. then you'll get a new door with new glass. (the door should be covered.)

Miriam said...

Strangely enough, we had a brick through our windscreen last night as well. The police didn't even bother turning up.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about that. Don't you wish it was like in the comics -- when they catch the criminals, they hold them up in front of you, "Here's the one that did it!"

I had a similar reaction once when I came home from work to find my apartment burglarized. As I approached, I saw that the door was open and my clothes were strewn all over the floor. My initial reaction: "This must not be my apartment."

PsychoToddler said...

Jack: I could see breaking into a camaro. But a Geo?

Ari: True, I am thankful that it was not worse (in many ways). I also cannot condone insurance fraud. I guess I wouldn't make it in Brooklyn.

(Side note: I was learning a sugia of Baba Metzia this week which deals with people paying for stolen property that they know they cannot keep, but are using as a shelter to keep their money out of the tax collector's hands. I told my Chevrusa, "That's SO NY!")

Miriam (1): I think they came because I had an ID on his plates and a description. But usually this is something you leave on an answering machine.

Miriam (2): Isn't it weird? Denial is such a strong emotion.

Ezzie said...

Wow. That story of Ayelet is weird and hilarious.

socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Sorry you had all that aggrivation. That is a wild story.

Ari Kinsberg said...

"I guess I wouldn't make it in Brooklyn."

no you would not. you would get eaten up alive!

Bagel Blogger said...

"Oh, this is not my beautiful car. "

Is that a play on a talking heads song?

Oh well lets hope it was once in a life time

Aaron

PsychoToddler said...

Ari: Well then thank G-d I don't have to live in Brooklyn!

Bagel: Have you met Neil?

jaime said...

PT - Don't be too hard on yourself. I think it's very natural to react the way you did - sorta stunned. You are very fortunate you weren't hurt and that your window will be covered by insurance, but I know how it feels - like you really been violated. It's a lousy feeling.

PsychoToddler said...

jaime: exactly right. That is what I am feeling. Violated. Some shkutz thought he had the right to go into my car and destroy and steal my property, that I worked hard for. It's a good thing I didn't have a gun.

Anonymous said...

Yuk...what an awful feeling!

Nice use of BSG lingo by the way.

PsychoToddler said...

I have to admit, Jessica, that I didn't actually say frak ;-)

Wickwire said...

Isn't that the way insurance goes? Too much to pay from your checking account, not enough for the insurance?

May it comfort you to know (and it won't really) that my mother gathered us all up when we were young and asked, "do you know anybody who steals?" We all though of a person or two in the community, I thought of MJ. She said, "now look at that persons life. Do they tend to have good luck or bad luck? Are they well off or poor? I pictured MJ's life, pity poor fool never had much, never got a good break.

PsychoToddler said...

Wick: Your mother was a very wise woman. I can see where you get it.

Anonymous said...

good luck. Moshiach will come before the Milwaukee PD does anything of any use.

PsychoToddler said...

Don't be ridiculous. They gave me a parking ticket once.

Household Duck said...

Yesterday I saw a car with a very artfully taped small back window and it made me think of you. Then I started thinking about you feeling like you didn't have a very helpful reaction. What would have been a helpful reaction? Maybe for blogging purposes some witty banter would've been good, but the end result would've been the same.
My brother had a similar break in and the window cost more to replace than the stereo that they took. At that point he decided to quit locking his car.

PsychoToddler said...

A useful reaction would have been snapping his picture with my cell phone, but most likely that would have resulted in his taking my phone or other acts of violence.

Yes, others have suggested I just "give up" and leave my car unlocked. I'm not ready to make that leap.

tnspr569 said...

At least you came out unharmed. It's always important to remember that while cars can be replaced, the same cannot be said for people.

Anonymous said...

We disconnected our car alarm when it was giving us trouble, but leaving the car unlocked is a different category entirely. Of course, here in NYC, we lock up everything - even the baby stroller when it's right outside the house. My dad still tells me I should put the Club on the 95 Corolla. I almost never do, but I do lock the doors. Listen, that's my ride and I want to keep it. Plus, I think that in my head I am driving a very different car . . .