Thursday, September 3, 2015

September 3, 2015 - The Thoughtful Thief

This is a true story.

On Tuesday morning, I was very stressed.  Oliver was late to work - usually I leave Aya with her when I take Noah to school and sometimes run a few errands (or go straight to work if I am substituting that day).  So normally I don't bring Aya with me to Noah's school but this morning I had her.  We were late.  There were no parking spots right in front of the school so I parked slightly down the road in an empty parking lot of one of the most popular restaurants in our neck of the woods. There is no security in this location.  I was flustered because the bell was about to ring. Aya was crying.  And I forgot that I had brought my handbag.  Normally I just take my phone and some cash or my bank card with me - I don't normally have a bag with me at that time of the morning.  But because it was THAT kind of morning I had brought a bag.  And when I was taking Noah and screaming-Aya into school I left my bag in the car.

Someone was obviously watching us go into the school.  When I came out about 6 minutes later, my window was smashed into a million pieces and my bag was, OF COURSE, gone.  There is a reason that I don't normally bring a bag or normally don't forget that I have a bag with me.  Because in Dar, this will definitely happen to you.  And it did.  I started to shake a little bit, mostly in anger at myself. 

There was a van parked sort of behind me with one couple talking to another parent of the school.  I asked if they saw anything and showed them my window - they felt really bad...said they had been there for 4 minutes and hadn't seen anything.  So it happened THAT quickly.  One of the parents went to get an askari (security guard), and I borrowed the woman's phone to call Kristoffer (who finally picked up the random number that kept calling). I reported what happened to the Head Mistress of Noah's school before I left (I have since found out that that road is known for bag snatchings - usually right off of people's shoulders when they are walking down the road.), and then I drove home with a now-sleeping Aya, a car full of glass and no passenger side window.  And no house key. And no wallet.  And no prescription sunglasses.  And no iPhone.

I went about the business of writing down what happened, cancelling my US credit card, emailing some people to tell them I no longer had my phone.  When Kristoffer got home very quickly he took me to get a new sim card with my old phone number to put in one of our back-up "not smart" phones. He is very calm and amazing and supportive in situations like these, so I was very grateful for him.

As we were waiting in line at the cell phone company, Kristoffer got a phone call from Noah's school saying that MY BAG HAD BEEN RETURNED.  Let that sink in for a minute. 

MY BAG HAD BEEN RETURNED.  Someone coming into the school found it about 90 minutes after it was taken, laying in front of the school's gate.  

The kindest criminal in Dar GAVE ME MY BAG BACK!  He actually took the risk of returning to the scene of the crime!  What a guy!

And what was in it?  My prescription sunglasses?  Yes!  My house key?  Yes!  All cards and papers from inside my wallet (license, credit card, medic alert ID, and some sentimental papers, etc.)?  Yes!  

What did our thoughtful thief keep?  My nice Fossil wallet.  The equivalent of $100 cash.  And my iPhone.  That's it.   Poor guy was probably disappointed that it was only an old iPhone 4.

The worst part of all this was knowing that I was watched and targeted.  Preyed upon with my kids. And that now I don't feel safe taking Noah to school in the morning.  

But there are many silver linings.  First, I got most of my stuff back! Still can't believe that my DKNY prescription shades are still mine!  Also, Noah and Grace don't know what happened.  Once the glass was all cleaned up, they somehow did not notice that the car was missing a window (which our mechanic replaced within 30 hours).  And I told them that Aya broke my phone which is why I am now using a very old, not-fun phone.  They totally believed that and it was really a must-lie situation.  Just like when Grace's bike was stolen from our compound in broad daylight earlier this year, we just don't want our kids to feel unsafe or scared (even if sometimes we feel that way).  And the biggest silver lining: nobody was hurt.  I wasn't held up or anything like that.  Nobody grabbed my bag from my shoulder while I was holding Aya.  And it was just STUFF that got taken.  That is a relief.

The rest of the week has had some other highs and lows as well.  We got our first family pet - Leonardo (Leo for short) the tortoise.  We adopted him from a family whose dog went crazy and starting killing all of their tortoises.  I never thought I'd say this about a tortoise, but he is super cute!  And the kids love him!  We also booked our first family vacation to Cape Town, South Africa at the end of October.  So that will be AWESOME!  It's been on our bucket list for a long time.   A few other tough moments were in there - Aya not sleeping, Grace has a stomach bug, Noah's first football (soccer) practice didn't go very well, and I had a horrible experience at the local Police Station trying to report Tuesday's incident.  Ugh.  But it's Thursday now - so just looking forward to the weekend and starting over next week. 

Thanks and No Thanks to Dar's Thoughtful Thief.  What a week!


Anonymous said...

Haivng spent time in Lagos, I found your story truly interesting. I don't know that I would have even had a vehicle to come back to after work. As such, I have to wonder if the thief you write about actually knew who you were or at least understood the pain associated with cancelling credit cards while living abroad.

Thank you for sharing.

Isobel Robertson said...

I just came across your blog- this is such an unusual story. It's so unusual that the thief decided to return your bag. I do have one friend whose mugger returned his sim card and credit cards from the stolen wallet and phone, so I guess it does happen! Thanks for an interesting read.

Andrea Gavin said...

Wow - just catching up on your blog and huh - who would have guessed Dar had such a thoughtful thief! Glad you are okay and got most of your stuff back!