RuthAnne Hale, Online Editor
Living in a nice part of West Omaha, I’ve never been paranoid about crime. I have a reasonable trust in the general public to be decent and not steal a bag I set down, my phone, my keys, or my car. Unfortunately, that trust was proven to be misplaced on Jan. 19 when my car was stolen while I was working.
I was working at Baker’s Grocery Store at Lakeside, cashiering away from 2 p.m. to 9:15 p.m., when someone took my 1998 Honda Civic from the parking lot, starting a month-long ordeal that has been one of the worst experiences of my life.
When I walked out that night after clocking out, I wandered around the parking lot, looking for my ride. I gave up, went back inside, and called my mom. My mom didn’t believe it was really gone, but after driving around a bit, she, too, was convinced and we called the police.
When the officer arrived, he told us something that I wished I had known when I first got the car: Honda Civics are SUPER easy to steal. If a thief knows what they’re doing, they can get it going with no keys in 20 seconds. The officer let us know that it would probably be found in a few weeks, but that there was no way to guess if it would ever be drivable again.
So we waited, just hoping it would be found because my family could not afford to buy me another car. In the meantime, I was forced to go back to my freshman/sophomore days of begging for rides from everyone. I got to spend my off blocks bumming around the school. It was HUMILIATING. You don’t really realize how convenient it is to own a car until it’s taken away from you. So to all you car owners: be thankful. Appreciate your personal transportation, because it is an asset that not everyone has and too many of us take it for granted.
Not only was the ride situation humiliating, so was telling people. I thought I could write this whole thing off as a quirky anecdote, but it felt so gross. I’m not even sure that I can put it into words, but when something as valuable as a car is stolen from you, it makes you feel small and weak and violated. When you have trust in the general public and it’s broken, it hurts more than you think it would. It is hard to really, truly, come to terms with the fact that there are people in this world that hurt other people for their own gain. And while everyone knows this in the back of their mind, sometimes it takes an experience as personal as this one to really let a tough truth like that sink in.
I did get my car back. My mom got a call from an impound lot on Feb. 8, and we paid the towing fee to get it back. I thought it would be a happy moment. I was really excited to get my car back, and I smiled the whole drive to the lot. But once I saw my car, I felt violated and gross all over again. My car was a mess. There were clothes and tools and parts everywhere, not to mention the trash, cigarettes, and beer bottles. The window was half rolled down and stuck, the ignition had been ripped out and was hanging by the wiring, the steering column was broken, there was damage to the front bumper, and one of the tires disappeared and had been replaced with the spare.
The repairs took a while, but I finally got my car back in working condition on Feb.20. I have no idea who took it or why. I barely have a clue where it was recovered from. I haven’t been in contact with the police nor do I want to. I just want to put this fiasco behind me as quickly as possible. I doubt anyone has been caught, and I’m not angry enough to put energy into wanting justice or revenge. I really just want to move on and prevent this from ever happening again to me or people I know.
I now have anti-theft precautions, namely a club on the steering wheel, which is a device that makes it so you can’t turn the steering wheel until you unlock it. Now, since I got the ignition replaced, I have to use three keys to get in and operate my car: one for the doors and trunk, one for the new ignition, and one for the club. It’s a hassle, but there is no way I am ever getting my car stolen again if I can do anything to prevent it.
When your trust in society is broken the way mine was, you can’t ever go back. I won’t ever be able to leave my car unlocked when I’m out of my car, even for a short period of time. I will always have a sinking feeling in my stomach as I walk out to my car, unsure if it is still where I left it. I’m still in the process of cleaning up the disgusting war zone that my car was in when I got it back. I don’t think I’ll ever to go back to how I felt before my car was stolen, but I’m not sure I would want to even if I could. This experience has been awful, but has forced me to come to terms with the world as it is.