Saturday, December 08, 2007


Yesterday I drove my family down to San Antonio to attend my wife's best friend's graduation from University of the Incarnate Word with his MA degree. We arrived close to midnight, checked in to the hotel, brought sup our things, and went to bed. The next morning, I opened the back of my mini van to find the baby's stroller was missing. Also missing from the mini van: my wife's school computer (which she will have to pay for -- $3000), a bag with her school books and lessons, a baby bag which had in it things like diapers, binoculars (they dropped one pair, which were recovered) and several CD's -- we had many of my favorites in there, including all but one of The White Stripes, all The Raveonettes, a Weezer, a Killer's, Muse, and several others. Naturally, we called the police. They wrote down what was missing, checked my license and proof of insurance, and basically just walked around and looked at the van. We said we weren't sure if we had locked the van, but we knew the van was supposed to lock on its own after a while. There was no evidence of forced entry, which only means they could have used one of those tools you use to open locked doors, but seemed to mean for the police that it threw suspicion on us, if their lack of interest in the theft was any indication. Or maybe, they showed a lack of interest because this was just a small theft and wasn't in their minds that big a deal. Which is perhaps why there is such a high crime rate in the U.S., if police have this attitude toward "small" crimes. The criminals who burglarized our van will only be emboldened if they get away with this, meaning they will steal more and more stuff. How long before they break in to someone's home and find someone there and kill them? I believe in the "broken windows" theory of solving crime. If you get the people who are doing the small crimes, you will get the ones who are doing the big crimes (they're the same people -- or will be). But, no, the police seemed to have better things to do than to look for clues, or even fingerprint. I suppose someone will tell me that they don't fingerprint for such small crimes -- but if that's the case, then that's a crime as well.

The criminals did leave a few things. They left a dress my wife had bought for her best friend's niece to wear to the graduation. They left my wife's corduroy jacket in the front seat, and they left our books and my clipboard. I'm not surprised the illiterate bastards left the books. We're a bit flummoxed about the theft of the stroller. But what is most aggravating about the theft, and the reason why theft is and should be illegal (obvious property rights issues aside) is because by stealing our things, they reduced their value. Take for example one of The Raveonettes' CDs. Probably nobody has heard of The Raveonettes, but I had their first two albums when I met Anna, my wife. One of or early dates was to a Raveonettes concert, and there they were selling their newest album. So I bought it. When I see that CD, it reminds me of that time. Sure, I can replace the physical CD, but the new one won't be the one I bought when we went on our date. The pair of binoculars they made off with was a pair my grandparents bought me for a birthday when I was young. My grandfather is dead and my grandmother is in her 80's. When we would visit them in South Bend, IN during Christmas, I would accompany them on the Audubon Christmas bird count. They loved birds, and, knowing I loved birds and nature too, they wanted to buy me something I would love. And I have loved them. I gave them to my wife when she bought me a new pair for my birthday. Those are the binoculars they dropped and we recovered. These objects have more value than those crooks could ever get out of selling them. Thus, by stealing them, they have greatly reduced the value in the world itself. That is why stealing is such an important crime, and why the police should take far more interest in it than the ones we dealt with did. I don't blame the two police officers themselves for their attitude -- I would expect it from anyone on the force, there or elsewhere. It is the attitude overall, held by the police in general, that has to change. The crime committed against me is far more important than the crime of someone going 11 mph over the speed limit.
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