Stolen Laptop: In broad daylight

November 19, 2009

smashed car window

This is Part 1 of a series on my stolen laptop.

Last month, my laptop was stolen from my car in broad daylight. It was in a grey tote bag lying on the floor, right there where you see all the broken glass. I thought that laying a dark bag on a dark floor would make it mostly unnoticeable. That may have hidden it from casual eyes, but not from the thief who set out to do a job.

It was Friday, and I was meeting someone for lunch at IHOP. When I arrived, other techno-geeks were also arriving for lunch, and I parked next to them. The restaurant shares its parking lot, so I was not parked directly in front of any restaurant windows. Still, it was right in the view of passing traffic.

Lunch finished, I walked back out at the same time as the guys I had parked beside. They were staring. I sat down in my car, and only then noticed the mess that used to be my front passenger window. My first thought was, “Somebody must have done a poor parking job and bashed in the side.” The guys parked next to me asked, “Was anything taken?” I said no! I was so used to leaving it that way all day at work, that I had driven and parked without giving it a thought. Besides, I was shaken up.

Thanks to the generosity of a friend at Apple who gave me his once-a-year personal discount, and the generosity of my parents, I am writing this on my new 15″ MacBook Pro. It’s certainly an upgrade from my previous machine. And thanks to the wonders of Time Machine backups, I did not lose any data.

But you can bet I won’t be leaving it on the floor of my car.

Have you ever had anything stolen? What did you learn from your experience?
Read on for how I had to process thingsā€”on more than one level.

Stolen Laptop series:

  1. In broad daylight
  2. Violence and forgiveness
  3. Prevention and recovery

Jon Reid

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As an American missionary kid who grew up in Japan, I'm a child of two cultures, while not fully belonging to either. This gives me a sightly different view of the world.

7 responses to Stolen Laptop: In broad daylight

  1. my wife is pretty militant about the idea of leaving nothing of value in the car and i figure it has saved us from more than a few headaches.
    i mistakenly left my wallet in the car once and of course the car got broken into, and our first night in the city where we now live our car got broken into but that may’ve been a hazing incident (no actually it wasnt).
    overall we’ve been very fortunate but it’s very good advice not to leave anything of value in your car when you leave it. maybe put it in the trunk or take it with you in the future.

  2. shallow: Yeah, it’s not exactly rocket science, is it? I share my story in the hope that it will help someone else — and that someone may be me! Thanks for sharing yours.

  3. my car was stolen once. it’s actually a really messed up story. my mom had left her purse in the car, which was stolen. later that night, the thieves came to our house and used the extra key in her purse to simply open my car door and drive away. it was only gone for a day and they found it in the next town. it was pretty much fine except for the fact that they had dumped all of my personal effects (including journals and the like) and thrown a brick through the windshield. when your car is completely stolen, it is a huge insurance hassle, since they want to make sure it’s not fraud.
    this was a really disturbing experience for me, since i am vigilant about not leaving valuables in my car. it was someone else’s lapse that made it easy to steal my car. i haven’t thought much about what i learned. i guess it underscored my (hyper)vigilance about not keeping valuables in the car.

  4. That is a good principle, to not leave valuables in the car. I definitely have done so many times, mostly cuz I don’t want to lug things around. But now I’ll think twice. So sorry about your car and laptop. But so glad you got an upgrade.

  5. Frances,
    Wait, I’m trying to connect the dots. Your mom’s purse was stolen from your car, or from hers? And later they went to the address on her ID? What kept them from stealing the car the first time?

  6. Helen,
    I suppose putting things in the trunk is no guarantee, especially if the thieves observe you doing so. But it’s a good bit better than leaving it in the front. (What do we call the main area, anyway? I’d say “the cabin” but it’s not a boat.)
    Getting a replacement without the help of family and friends would have been daunting; finances are hard enough without the unexpected!

  7. Jon, they stole my mom’s purse out of her car and went to the address on her i.d.