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Just another statistic Thursday, July 31, 2008

One of the things I love about my neighbourhood is its proximity to just about everything I need on a day-to-day basis: I have two grocery stores—and several restaurants—within four blocks, my bank is about two blocks away, there are various nearby drug stores and convenience stores, theaters, libraries, post offices, etc. And I'm just a mile from the heart of downtown Portland. (My address has a walkscore of 95/100, about double anywhere else I've ever lived.)

So I oft
en go a few days without driving my Jeep. For example, I went from last Sunday evening to Wednesday afternoon without moving my vehicle.

Yesterday, though, I had a scouting trip to a home I will be photographing soon—about 16 miles across town—and pretty close to my weekly Ultimate game. So I grabbed my camera, a change of clothes for Ultimate, and headed out.

I threw my stuff in the back of my Jeep, and went to get in. But I noticed something weird: the cord that pl
ugged my old cell phone into the cigarette lighter was on the driver's seat, with a couple other papers that should have been in the glove compartment. Sure enough, the glove compartment—which I keep locked—was open, with nothing in it. The console between the driver and passenger seats (also locked) was also open.

The controller for my after-market, trunk-mounted CD player was pulled off its location near the floor in front of the gear-shift lever, and the wire attached to it was all pulled out. #$@&! I've been robbed! Sometime between Sunday evening and Wednesday afternoon.

I checked in the back, and the CD player was still there with all the discs in it. At first I thought the control panel for it had been taken, but it was still attached to the wire. I don't know if the thief/thieves were interrupted, or just decided it wasn't worth the trouble to take.

I generally don't keep anything of value in my vehicle, especially in the summer when the top is down.

So what was missing? Weird stuff: the pen from my dashboard. A pair of running shoes from the back—but not my hard hat. A half-pack of gum, but not the parking-meter change. They took a pair of prescription glasses I kept in the console just in case I lose a contact, but not the (inexpensive) pair of sunglasses in the cup holder. They took the owners manual for the vehicle, but left the tire pressure gauge.

They took only two things of real (potential) value: the key that locks my spare tire on the back of the Jeep, and my insurance and registration papers. Those have my full name and address on them, so I guess that's identity theft. And the lock on the glove compartment is broken, so it won't stay closed.

Now, I park on the street every day, so I suppose it was just a matter of time. But I've lived in this neighbourhood for 2 ½ years without incident. This time—atypically—I was parked in a spot I can see from my apartment. Admittedly, the top was down on the Jeep, as it normally is in the summer. But maybe that was a good thing—I don't have any broken windows or slashed roof to deal with.

What has me equally bothered is the police response. I wasn't sure who to call, so I dialed 911. After confirming that the break-in wasn't actually in progress, they forwarded me to the non-emergency number. Fair enough.

So I waited on hold for a couple of minutes, and told the person that answered what had happened. She asked whether I wanted an officer to respond; already running behind for my appointment, I asked how long that would take. She forwarded me to dispatch.

The dispatch person told me that there was no way they could give me an ETA, but they were just heading into shift change. My call would be the first on the next officer's list, but a priority call could come at any time and change that. In any case it would be at least 30 minutes. I asked what the difference would be between an officer coming to the scene and filing the report by telephone, and she said nothing. I asked if they wanted to collect any evidence from the scene—such as the Kool cigarette butts left in my car—and she said they wouldn't run a DNA test on them anyway, so no.

So I elected to file by telephone on my drive across town. That required another call to the non-emergency desk I'd called earlier. After again waiting on hold for a few minutes, I explained to her that I wanted to file by telephone. So she gave me another number that I had to call within an hour. I dialed that number.

Without identifying itself, the computer at that number said it wasn't taking any calls at this time, please call back later. I tried three times and had the same response.

So I called the non-emergency desk again. On hold again. Same person answering. I explained that the number she had given me wasn't taking calls. She told me there wasn't anything she could do; at the moment, she couldn't even take my name and number.

At that point I'd had it. My car had been broken into, the police wouldn't/couldn't do anything about it, and wouldn't even take a report. She me to the chief's office.

I told my story to the guy at that desk. He put me on hold while he talked to someone else. Then he sent me back to the non-emergency desk again.

This time, the woman there took my name and number and said someone would give me a call in the next couple of hours.

Sure enough, about half an hour later a police officer phoned me and took the details of the incident. She was supposed to send me an email with the case number and some other information. I haven't seen it yet.

So now I have to call my insurance company to get another insurance information card. I have to look into getting a new lock mechanism for the glove compartment, and a new key for my spare tire. Who knows what that will cost. Once I get the police report number, I can file for anti-fraud protection for my personal information that was stolen. And I have to feed the CD-player cable back into wherever it came from.

I'm parked in a different part of the neighbourhood now, partly because it's street sweeping day tomorrow and you can't park anywhere in my area then, and partly in the hopes that they won't come back and steal my spare tire. But of course I can't see the car from here—it's 2 ½ blocks away.

I appreciate that the police are busy tracking down murderers and drug dealers and I certainly don't want to take them away from that. And I understand that it's unlikely that they will be able to apprehend the perps in this case. But I am disappointed that they didn't even want to try. Whether it's because they're too busy or it's futile, that's sad.