Thanks for Stealing: Part I
I have read fanciful sword, sandals and sorcery epics wherein there were such things as a guild of thieves. After much reflection, I am certain that such things exist for I fear that in my carelessness I have been struck repeatedly by such louts. Each time I learned a lesson. Each time I likely learned not nearly enough.
Travelers and thieves
On the first occasion I was a newly minted traveler of the highways of central Florida. I had recently quit the sterile beaches of Melbourne, Florida and discontinued my employment as a civilian contractor on a military base. I decided to bypass Mickey Mouse and instead became ensconced in seedy digs not far from Tampa, Florida.
The motel where I was to spend the next few weeks was home to migrants, immigrants, prostitutes and several male individuals who means of employment was uncertain—at least at first.
In my first of many mistakes I complained about the first room the motel clerk gave me. He rewarded me by removing me from the front of motel to the back of the motel. Now, as luck would have it, my car was invisible from the street. In addition, the thoughtful clerk put me on the third floor.
It can get pretty warm in the summertime in Florida even at night and so I had my noisy air conditioner on and as I slept. During my slumber my car was stolen.
In retrospect I may have barely noticed a car alarm under drone of the air conditioner—I am not sure. But when was the last time you saw someone actually trying to steal a car when the alarm was going off? So if I heard it I probably rolled over and went back to sleep.
Later, the police found my car and returned it to my, sans all my worldly goods. This was not as bad as it seems since the thieves had dumped most of my worthless—at least worthless to them—in the parking lot when they fled. Herein I learned the first of many lessons. It ws my habit in those days to keep duplicates of everything. Car keys, bank cards, credit cards, just about everything I thought it would be bad if I misplaced. My greatest fear at the time was that I would lose some vital thing and not have access to it at some crucial moment. It would be cumbersome to keep all those dupes in my pockets so as I traveled I kept them in the car. They were in my mind securely locked way in the glove compartment and in the trunk. To the thieves had only to break a window, a glove compartment lock and the lock on the trunk to have access to my entire life and my car.
Within 5 days I had gotten my car back. After I dealt with the police, the insurance company, the credit card company and the bank, a kindly garbage man who found hundreds of dollars of savings bonds and other assorted stolen paper work abandoned by the side of the road called me and returned them to me. The garbage man refused to take any money.
I was robbed!
I felt as though I had been turned upside down until all my worldly goods fell out on the pavement. My debit card had been used to buy some gas. Some checks were written on my back account.
But on the plus side I was physically unharmed. I got most of my stuff back including the car. The car had suffered only superficial damage. Since reported everything promptly to the police, the bank, and the credit card companies, I was not out for the stolen money. The insurance company fixed most of the damage on the car. I did not have the stuff in the car insured and that was a mistake.
Long strange trip
It may sound strange, but after it was all over, I was sitting in that dirty motel room, waiting for the daily afternoon thunderstorm, which would be accompanied by the obligatory power outage, something occurred to me.
I had gotten off too easy.
Once, as I stared out the window at my car to make sure no one stole it again, I notice three cars drive up. Some young men jumped out of two of the cars and they began to help the man who drove third ransack “his” car. As I watch, one of the young men threw up some “worthless” trinket high into air. Most of the time the thieves discarded what they regarded as junk with far less theatrics. After a few moments of thievery, all the young men jumped into two cars and sped away.
I called the cops and gave them the cheap camera I had used to surreptitiously photograph the proceedings. It was a distant blurry picture so I doubt they were able to use it for anything.
I got real conspiracy minded after that. I thought what if almost everyone, the hotel, the hotel clerk, the thieves and even the police were in on the scam. Suppose the whole deal was to take tourists and bleed them but not kill them. Nobody needs real trouble. After the thievery everybody gets a cut of the action. One of the things that made me suspicious of the police was the way they said they recovered my car. They claimed that someone noticed a car driving around at night with no lights on and when the police arrived everybody jumped out of the car and ran away. What made me suspicious was they police claimed they did not catch even one guy running away.
In truth, while it is an entertaining enough conspiracy theory it is very unlikely to be true. The reason I say this is because I can’t see where there would be enough loot to go around. I don’t think the police where in on it mostly because it doesn’t seem like it would pay enough for them to take the risk. I think it was just between the hotel clerk and the car thieves. Was the hotel management in on it? Who knows?