Yesterday morning, as the children and I were scurrying around the house trying to clean up, I sent the little ones outside to play for a little bit. (I find it completely impossible to clean floors with Ben, Peter and Maggie around.)
As I was downstairs, folding laundry, Ben came running down..."Mom! Mom! There's something laying underneath our van!" My response was, "Leave it there, it's probably a toy or something." Well, because Ben is such a good listener, he ran out and came in a few seconds later carrying the item that had sparked his interest, which he had found laying under the back tire of the van. It was a Garmin. Someone else's Garmin, because I don't have one in the van.
Now, this sparked my interest, and I put the laundry folding aside to go and check out our van. As I walked towards our vehicle, I also noticed something else by the back wheel. My camera case! YIKES! I had left my camera in the van overnight apparently. I opened it up and, thankfully, everything was still intact. But, how on earth did it end up outside the vehicle?
As I approached the passenger side door, I noticed a coat hoot, which had obviously been jimmied with and which, I'm sure, had been used to unlock some locked vehicles. It was pretty apparent that someone had been in our neighborhood breaking into people's cars.
I opened up our unlocked van door to find our van in a complete mess. The glove compartment was opened and emptied out. Everything was thrown all over the place. Our pool bag was dumped out on the floor and the car seats were knocked over and unlatched. Was the burglar looking for old french fries? Anyway, the only thing missing was all the change we keep in the ashtray in the middle console. He probably got away with about $1.50 for all his effort.
But, the big question is, what happened that made him panic and drop all his goodies under our car? He had, in his possession, probably over $500 in merchandise. Something must have spooked him. Whatever it was that happened, I'm certainly glad that he didn't make off with our things!
I called Adrian, told him what I found, and we decided we would try to return the Garmin to it's owner first. I typed in "Take me home" and the Garmin told me where to go. It was to another house in our neighborhood, but I couldn't quite tell where it was at. We were headed out the front door, Garmin in hand, when my next door neighbor appeared in his driveway and I yelled, "Hey! Guess what I found underneath my van this morning!" and he yelled back, excitedly, "MY GARMIN!"
Wow. I was so glad for him! We exchanged stories. He told me how the police had come to his door at around 2am, telling him that there had been a string of car burglaries in our neighborhood and that his truck door was ajar. He went out to find that his Garmin had gone missing. Supposedly, the police spotlighted the area, but didn't see the goodies that were stashed under our van wheel.
Now, this is where the real excitement happens. I guess one of our neighbors has a surveillance camera in their driveway. They caught the thief, on camera, breaking into their car. They called police right away (at 1am?), to tell them there had been a break-in. The police showed up and they showed them the evidence. The police later found the guy, some 20-something year old kid, at a 7-Eleven store just a block away....
Moral of the story? Crime doesn't pay. Especially for this kid. He probably ended up with only a few dollars worth of change, to now face numerous accounts of burglary. Stupid.
I did kind of wonder what he thought, though, as he was emptying out the contents of our vehicle. I had some super old tampons in the glove compartment, which he had opened and then thrown onto the seats. Did he really think that there might be something other than a tampon under the wrapper? And, what did he think might be hiding in our pool bag? Or, under the car seats? I still think he might have just been searching out for some old, crunchy french fries. You know, to satisfy the midnight munchies.
Now the kid faces criminal charges and we get to fill out police paperwork. Lovely.