July 5, 2010

The Robbery

First of all, I'm sorry that I went AWOL on you, but I have good excuse...we moved this weekend!

The move itself was uneventful, except for the fact that we got robbed.

The incident took place on the day that our moving van was being loaded. While the vast majority of our stuff was hauled to Florida in the moving van, we took some of our most important valuables with us in the car. After loading the back of the car with said items, I went inside to check the time (I was smart and left my car doors open). Thirty seconds later, I returned to find a garbage truck in front of my house and a trash collector running from my car to the cab of the truck. I yelled at the man, but it was too late; he and an armful of my stuff sped off down the street.

After we wrapped our minds around what had just happened, my husband and I did what any sane, rational couple who are moving out of state within the hour would do--we blocked off the entrance/exit to our neighborhood with our cars. While my husband hunted down the garbage truck on foot, I conducted an inventory of the back of the car and tried to determine what was missing.

When the trash truck reappeared, my husband was in the cab. Both of the trash collectors sitting next to him were sobbing hysterically.

"What's missing?" my husband yelled out the window.

I shrugged my shoulders. We had both seen the trash collector take a number of things from the back of my car, yet nothing seemed to be missing.

My husband hopped out of the truck with a confused expression on his face. He held up a handful of computer wires and a bundle of extension cords.

We had no idea what was going on until we talked with the garbage collection company on the phone. The shift supervisor explained that in attempt to make a little extra money, some of his employees salvage electrical cords from the trash they collect. They then strip the cords and sell the thin copper wires contained inside them to local scrap yards. On a good month, one can earn up to $75 by doing this.

It wasn't long after hearing this that I began to feel sick to my stomach. My husband spent the next 10 minutes on the phone with the supervisor, pleading for the trash collectors' jobs.

Clearly, it's wrong to steal, but I can't help be affected by what the trash collector took from my car, or, rather, what he didn't. The guy took $5 worth of wire, on top of which was sitting a laptop and wallet containing $75 in cash.

As my family has spent the past few months preparing to move out of a house that we bought at the peak of the housing market and sold at the bottom, I've found myself more than once saying "I feel poor."

The pile of extension cords in the corner of my new living room serves as a stark reminder that most definitely I am not.

44 comments

FabuLeslie said...

Wow. That's quite a story!! My car was broken into recently, but I also was spared my laptop being stolen. Instead they took everything in the car, so they wouldn't set the alarm off by opening the doors or trunk. I'm not as gracious as you, though. I feel violated and angry that someone thinks they should be able to take something that isn't theirs. Sure I may have more than them, but that doesn't make it their right to take what wasn't offered. Just sayin.

Karen Mortensen said...

Wow. That was a little sad.

Deborah said...

Hi Jana
I've lurked for a while but this touched a cord.(no pun intended!)

Someone broke into our house once many years ago. OK, I may have left all the windows open...that's like an invitation, right?
TVs, money, jewellery...not touched.
They took baby clothes, nappies and half the contents of my pantry, including baby formula.

I refused to ring the police...good luck to them.

sara said...

That story sure turned out differently than I thought it would. Makes you think, doesn't it.

Lisa Loo said...

I don't comment often but I visit every time you post. You are wickedly funny and your mothering skillz are...well lets just say that I wish you could adopt me.
I loved this post.....

Anonymous said...

Most law enforcement would describe this unfortunate incident as a theft. Not a robbery. Here's the difference: Robbed: (1) : to take something away from by force (2) : to take personal property from by violence or threat.
Theft: the illegal taking of another person's property without that person's freely-given consent.

So glad it was theft and not robbery and no one was harmed and nothing important was taken. I am glad you used your smarts to track down the truck and get your cords back. How sad that these guys are so desperate for cash that they would steal from a vehicle while on their garbage rounds.

Kirsty said...

Ohhhh please tell me they kept their jobs? I am touched by and grateful for your compassion and acknowledgment of how good most of us have it.

The Mom said...

Yeah, I am most definitely NOT poor. Thanks for that reminder!

Me said...

Years ago when my son was a baby, my car was broken into and his carseat stolen.

I was not as forgiving as you though. In fact, I was insulted. Yes, whoever took the carseat obviously needed it but didn't my child? I mean, seriously, someone who doesn't need a carseat certainly wouldn't have one.

Mindy said...

Life is interesting. And, yep...when it gets right down to it...we are very fortunate in many ways! It's good to get a wake-up call once in a while. Good luck getting settled!

likeschocolate said...

Wow! I am speachless at the moment. Hopefully, the rest of your journey to Florida will be uneventual. This story reminds me of when I was in Florida this past year and left my purse on the curb outside of Subway. I had to chase a guy down who was driving away with my purse. He gave it back thankfully otherwise, I so not know how I would have made it home to Georgia

Emily Heizer Photography said...

I feel sick...

Anonymous said...

That is so sad...I hope they got to keep their jobs.

Jackie said...

That made me cry. I really hope they were able to keep their jobs. Deborah's comment was heart wrenching as well.

Cathryn said...

Not poor temporally or spiritually!
God bless you and the garbage men.

linda said...

Those of us who have a roof over our heads, food in our pantry and healthy kids, do sometimes need to be reminded.... we are very fortunate.

Christine said...

Wow.

TORI said...

~tear~

that's all I have.

Lindsey said...

Geez, Deborah, way to make me cry into my coffee. :) Good on you for your generosity.

A little factoid: pregnancy tests were the most stolen item from the drugstore I used to work at. The second was baby formula.

Sandy said...

Wow that's really sad. Scary for you, but sad for them. It does kind of put things into perspective though. I hope you can relax and enjoy your new house!

Tara - SanitySrchr said...

I figured you were going to say this happened after you arrived at your destination. I know all the cops around these parts should you ever need it! I hope the rest of the move went well.

adhocmom said...

Just, wow. . I'm glad things worked out in the end. And I'm glad to read this post on a Monday morning RIGHT AFTER I PAID MY BILLS AND WAS FEELING POOR. Not so much anymore. . . Thanks!
P

Connie said...

We live in trying times. During a seminar on preparedness, the presenter told us that a man went to her after a seminar and expressed that there was no need to get food storage because some guy with a gun will just come and steal it from him and his family. She then said, "Are you afraid of the man with the gun, or are you afraid you will BE the man with the gun?" We'll all do things we wouldn't normally do if we're starving.
Good luck to you and your family on your move.

Nolie said...

I really hope they get to keep their jobs but at the same time learn a listen. Taking stuff from the garbage is 100% different from taking stuff from your car.

Donna said...

When I hear stories like these it reminds me that there are so many people with so much less than me. The last several years I have tried to rearrange my thinking. Just because I can't afford something I want doesn't mean I'm poor. My motto (when I remember) is 'Less is More.'

I hope the garbage men were able to keep their jobs without any reprimands in their files.

And congratulations on the move! Now you just have to unpack...

Jennifer said...

Wow, I'm actually a little teary from your story & Deborah's. Breaks my heart. That was very sweet of your husband to plead for their jobs.

Anonymous said...

I feel bad for them, but they did open your personal space and take something from your car. Some cords can be very expensive. I remember monster cables costing $90 at Best Buy but their retail really was $10. The trash guys should take stuff out of Best Buy. I also thought...they made pretty darn good money. They sure as heck make more then I do when I looked up their salaries in my area. I just feel violated if someone invades personal space like that. Would I call the cops? Probably not. Would I call their company after the fact of figuring out what happened? Probably not. Would I call the company like you did initially for the same reason before you found out to get my stuff back if I was moving out of the state? Yes.

HOWEVER, I am not a cold nasty thing...if I have cords I need to toss out, I'll put it next to my trash in case anyone could use it.

Susan said...

Wow. So many emotions in such a short amount of time. I bet you'll never look at electrical cords the same way--neither will I; thanks for posting this.

Another Piece Of Chocolate said...

What they did was obviously wrong and I believe there should be consequences. Without any consequences they may be inclined to do something similar again or worse. On another note - your blog is one of my favorites (from someone I have never met!) and my vote is cast for you :- )

Sants said...

The housing market in Spokane crashed too and we sold LOW LOW LOW. In Baton Rouge, the housing (and economy) are great! So we've bought high. I've been sick about it for 10 months, but this post just changed my mind!

Thanks for the reminder of what is real.

Ironically the word verification is bukiss.

Nancy Sabina said...

That is a very sad story. But I admit that I am a little impressed with your fast thinking as to how to catch them. I hope they get to keep their jobs - and may they find many wires.

Dangerous With a Pen said...

We also got robbed in the midst of a move. Before we moved into our previous home, we stopped there one weekend (we had closed but hadn't yet moved). We left a few things there and on our next stop there, found a broken basement window, candles burned in the middle of 2 rooms, a bag full of wedding cards rummaged through and dumped out (we had already removed any checks), and a broken stereo missing. Awesome loot, doofuses. Best wishes in your new home!

Amy said...

The first night that we moved into our new house, we left the car doors unlocked. We had just moved from Utah where we never locked our doors. The next morning we found our stereo, camera and my husband's scriptures all stolen. All we could hope for was that whoever stole it got something from those scriptures. That when he realized what was in the heavy leather bag, that he opened them, read them and had his life change.

But most likely not. I feel really badly for those two garbage collectors. I can only imagine what it would be like to rely on petty crime to bring home an extra 75 bucks a month. Sad. I am definitley spoiled, and far from poor.

Brie said...

Somehow we are living parallel lives. lives. We bought high and sold low to move to .... ORLANDO last week! It was the right decision for the long run we know but not an easy one.
Still, we cant get over how blessed we have been. I really hope that the guys got to keep their job, they need it.
on a creepy note, I would love to know what ward you are going to be in now... I have followed your blog since last years' blog luxe voting and its weird that you now live in my(new) area and could be in my stake or ward!

Anonymous said...

I had read somewhere that garbage collectors made pretty darn good money as well. Stealing is wrong. Period. However, I feel like there are exceptions: People breaking into abandoned stores to get food or medicine for their family during an emergency like Katrina-(NOT tvs, jewelry, etc)

Tiffany said...

What the heck happened to Deborah's comment?

Tricia ~~ Handmade Whimzy said...

Gee, how much do garbage mean make in your old city?
In our city, they are on the same pay scale with the police and fireman - so they make well above average for our area. I know because they post salaries for city employees in the local paper occassionally.

If I saw one of our garbage men taking something from my car, I'd have him arrested. It is by no means a low paying job in our area.

Twinmomwv said...

So sad.

Once, when I was in high school I walked in on my house being robbed. The guy was in the process of unhooking our VCR.

Then on our honeymoon, on the one night we forgot to set the car alarm, my purse was stolen. It had everything we had received from our reception in it. The campground owner recommended looking in the trash cans. Apparently this was not an uncommon occurrence. We found it and the only thing that had been taken was $60 cash. They had totally skipped over all the gift cards so we were still able to start our new household.

Renny said...

Something similar happened to me recently. I drove from Vermont to AZ for my brother's wedding. After having finished my first year of law school at an incredibly expensive private school, I am in debt for the first time in my life. I was about to leave after the wedding to head up to Washington for an unpaid internship, and I was worried about getting a job in the afternoons to cover my expenses to get back to AZ for ANOTHER brother's wedding in August, as well as driving back out to Vermont, and, finding a place to live, since I currently can't afford a deposit for a place this fall.
Needless to say, I'm stressed. I drove into the parking lot of the dollar store and saw a homeless guy with a sign. I don't know if he is really homeless, people sit there all the time with signs, and you never can tell. I saw someone else sitting right outside of Michael's with another one. I thought to myself, "you know, I've always been really lucky when it comes to money. I usually don't have enough to cover all my bills, but somehow everything works out, the Lord always blesses me." I bought some snacks at the dollar store for my drive north and as I was leaving I just felt this lurch in my stomach, stopped the car, waved the guy over, and gave him a box of granola. He told me I was a life saver. I cried the whole way home.

Angie said...

Agh. This is heartbreaking. I do hope they were able to keep their jobs. When I was teaching, my wallet was taken from my bag in my classroom. I actually walked in on the lady in my classroom after she had taken it (figured out after the fact of course). I found it in a dumpster 2 blocks from the school. Always check the dumpsters! I never carried cash, so all that was missing was a gift card with about 3 dollars left on it. Thanks for the perspective today.

Anonymous said...

IMO, removing the cords from discarded appliances is entirely different than breaking into someone's car and taking something (even if you left the door open). The first is recycling, the latter is theft, plain and simple. At the very least, their employer should should have reprimands placed in their files. How many other cars on their route have they broken into?

You may think the value of the objects doesn't matter, relative to the value of laptop and wallet - but what if your kids were in the car at the time they broke into it?

Anonymous said...

To all those saying trash collectors make fair wage: they don't always, and they are not always municipal employees. My husband is a "trash collector" and works for a private company that is contracted by several local towns. That said, here in Connecticut they make a measly $14 an hour.

I certainly agree that stealing isn't right, and that it's not okay to take someone's property. That said, I can certainly identify with Jana's sympathy.

In a time when job's are hard to come by, and men in position's like these struggle to feed their families as it is, I truly hope they were able to keep their jobs.

Lilly J said...

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