At the end of the month, it’ll be a year since my car was broken into. That experience sucked to say the least.
And with car break-ins at gyms on the rise, I thought a “heads up” would be appropriate as we approach the first anniversary of my car window being smashed to smithereens. Save your butt from a major pain and, quite possibly, a bunch of dough. Establish the following habits and keep your car from being ripe for the picking.
*A version of this post originally appeared on BlogHer.
“Will the owner of the white Mini Cooper please come to the front desk?” mumbled the dude over the gym intercom. I just finished up my workout and daydreaming of a cheeseburger when I heard the announcement.
“What, did I leave my dome light on? No, it’s broad daylight. Did some idiot lose control and accidentally hit my car turning into the parking lot? Thank god my car’s in the shop and it’s a loaner.”
Not once did I think about someone breaking into my car. They wouldn’t have any reason to. I remembered locking it and made a conscious effort to cover my purse and laptop up with a blanket before ever arriving at the gym. If you peeked in the window, it only looked like an old, folded-up blanket on the floor.
I walked up to the front desk and sure enough, they said someone smashed my back driver’s side window.
I bolted out to the parking lot, looking like a character straight out of one of those cheesy hour-long crime dramas. You know, where she’s running toward the yellow tape of the scene after finding out her husband is a hostage.
Maybe by some crazy miracle the thieves were truly incompetent and missed the purse? I hesitantly looked through the shattered window to see the blanket thrown up on the seat. The Mac was still there, but no purse. My legs went numb.
The thieves took my passport, a few credit cards, numerous gift cards that I always carry around with me (because I’ll lose them if I don’t … isn’t that ironic), my checkbook, my license with the absolute best picture I’ve ever taken — bastard crooks — and $1,480 cash that I just put in my purse that day to deposit after my workout.
I know what you’re thinking, “You idiot! Why would you leave your purse in the car with that much cash in it?”
First off, I am kicking the crap out of myself again and again because I stashed it in the car and didn’t take it with me. Secondly, not to excuse my actions, but I parked in the row closest to a busy street in the middle of a Sunday afternoon! Third, my belongings were well hidden.
And if they were out of sight, thieves wouldn’t take the chance on having nothing in there, right?
I’ll go ahead and answer that with a big, fat WRONG.
Those little buttheads gambled and won like champs.
So how? How did those D-bags know I left my things in the car if I hid them at the gas station en route?
Well, according to the officer that showed up almost three hours after I first called the cops, gyms are high-target areas. Gyms, amusement parks, concerts, any place thieves figure you’ll keep valuables in the car. And the creepiest part is, they could be watching you from the moment you park.
If they see a woman walking in without a purse, the bums assume it’s still in the vehicle, and then it’s go time.
I believe that’s exactly what happened to me. I arrived at the gym a little after 4 pm, and when I called to cancel my credit cards, the thieves used one of my cards at a gas station by 4:20. Those jerks wasted no time.
Prevent Car Break-Ins with These Tips
Making the next several actions a part of your daily routine will help a ton when it comes to keeping the crooks away from your car!
Do Not Leave Any Valuables in Your Car — Zero, Zilch, Nada
I always used to add the word “unless” at the end of that sentence such as: UNLESS you hide them, or UNLESS you lock them in your trunk. Rita Arens, BlogHer’s managing editor, shared that her purse had been stolen out of her trunk at the gym.
Yep, you read that right. The trunk is not completely thief-proof.
Isn’t that just craptacular?
If you’re one who tends to leave her stuff in the car while working out, that’s a simple fix. Invest in a cheap lock and shove it all in a locker. I never owned a lock before, but you bet your sweet butt I have a lock now.
Although, there’s really nothing to lock up at the moment. Nobody in their right mind would want my gym bag and the only things in my purse are a photocopy of my license and tampons.
Going to a concert or amusement park? Sounds obvious, but figure out what you’ll need ahead of time (e.g., license, debit card, etc.) and leave everything else at home. Or better yet, rock the fanny pack.
You’ll be my best friend.
Keep You Car Spic ‘N Span
If your vehicle is cluttered, thieves will think there’s going to be something in there worth taking. If your car is empty and boring inside, they’re more than likely going to pass.
Lock Your Car
I believe there is an exception to this tip, though. If you have a convertible or a jeep with a cloth top, I recommend keeping it unlocked. I say this because I have owned convertibles for well over a decade, and when I used to lock it, the thieves would simply slash the top to get in.
It took me two different times before I learned to leave my convertible unlocked. Yes, I still have car break-ins every once in a great while, but nothing is ever taken and my top remains cut-free. Now, if you’re worried about your car getting stolen while leaving it unlocked, get The Club.
Park in Well-Lit Areas
Thieves are afraid of the light. A former car thief that goes by the name of TB states, “If your car is in the shadows, it was easier to break in unnoticed.” They’ll feel too exposed otherwise. Parking under a street light or in a nice, bright parking lot is your best bet.
Fake ‘Em Out
You know how car alarms usually have one of those tiny blinking lights somewhere around the dash? Well, you can buy just the blinking light and stick it in a place that’s easily seen.
Thieves see that and they don’t want to chance it. Purchase them at any automobile store, and voilà, you have a light that blinks, “Don’t mess with me, don’t mess with me, don’t mess with me … “
Install Good Exterior Home Lighting
“Smash and Grabs” are not limited to parking lots, parking structures or on-street parking. According to the Joliet Police Department, “Most vehicle burglaries happen in residential areas.” Having motion sensor lights set up around your house could quite possibly shoo off the bad guys.
Remember, unless they’re dumb or gutsy, thieves are like roaches. Turn the light on them and they scatter.
So as of today, in addition to working with the police, my husband and I are now dealing with mail investigators. Call me naïve, but I didn’t know there was such a job until now. It’s seriously the same number you call if you have a “mail emergency.” I have no clue what a mail emergency would even entail.
I guess if you ever have a body part stuck in the mail slot, that would be the department to call.
Has Your Car Been Broken Into? Here’s What You Do
This is an incident that I wouldn’t wish upon anybody (I take that back … maybe all car thieves), but if your car is ever at the wrong place at the wrong time, I suggest the following tips.
Call the Police
Always call the po-po to report a car theft, even if nothing of value was taken. Most of the time, you are able to file a report online or over the phone if you aren’t wanting or needing an officer to come out.
Try to make an effort to get the theft on record, though. The cops might increase the patrolling in the area where the break-in happened. On top of that, your report is used when putting together crime statistics in the community.
Cancel Your Credit Cards … Stat
Get online and find the “lost or stolen cards” phone number for each credit card. You’ll want to check to see if the thieves have made any fraudulent charges as of yet and, if so, dispute them.
Freeze Your Credit Reports ASAP
Sadly, in this day and age, thieves are not only wanting your money as well as stuff they can resell, the ones that do this for more than a hobby are also after your identity. It doesn’t take too much of your personal information for them to get credit cards in your name.
However, if you put the smack down and seal your credit reports up nice and tight, the joke’s on them!
Haha, you suckers!
When my husband did this a few months ago, I thought he was being a tad overly cautious. Until last week.
Contact Your Insurance
Car insurance takes care of anything that’s attached to your car (stereo, speakers, etc.). Your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance covers belongings such as your purse, laptop and phone.
Claim every last item that was taken, all the way down to your hemorrhoid cream. It adds up quick. Keep in mind, though, that most policies only cover up to $200 cash, which includes gift cards.
Go to the Post Office
Head on over to post office that handles your mail, explain the situation and see if they can freeze the forwarding of your address. Now I realize this may sound paranoid, but I had to do this exact thing earlier today.
Apparently, my thieves are seasoned crooks, because those scum buckets actually forwarded my mail to themselves so they could really try to sink their teeth into my identity.
We had been out of town for a few days when I received a couple of emails from my credit card company suspecting fraudulent activity. As it turned out, the purchases were made with the credit card that had JUST been sent to us to replace the stolen card! We rushed home to an empty mailbox.
Even though my husband froze our credit reports a while back, this entire situation has still been a gigantic headache. Trust me on this one and learn from my mistakes. When it comes to car break-ins, take the proper precautions. Seriously, we all think it won’t happen to us until it does.
This post will be linking up with these parties!
Sunday Blog Hop with Jenn
Inspire Me Monday with Janice, CJ, Emily, BonBon, and Nicole
Bonnie, the Pin Junkie
Totally Terrific Tuesday Link Party with Jessica, Laina, Kaitlin, Sherry, and Nicki
Shine Blog Hop with Tiffany, Jennifer, and Maria
The Blogger’s Pit Stop with Kathleen, Janice, Debbie, and Julie
Let’s Get Real with Karen
Living a Life of Fitness Health and Happiness Link Up with Jill
Small Victories Sunday Link Up with Tanya, Echo, Gail, Kimberly, Crystal, Leigh, Shannon, Meagan, Karren, Danita, Michelle, and Suzanna
Dream. Create. Inspire. Link. with Cat, Samantha, and Maria
Motivation Monday with Jen, Mitzi, Katie, Candi, Lauren, Raki, Crystal, and Aida
Meet Up Monday with Tara
Party at My Place with Michelle