We Just Don't Get the Same Quality of Car Thief We Used To

A mason, Luis, signals from the porch at 7 a.m. "Is that your car in the road?" I assume I left the parking break on, but no. Someone--looked like two people--broke in, popped the ignition, ruined the steering column, and stalled the car after starting it, then seemingly ran off. Mostly likely, meth heads. Luis helped us get the car to start (a piece of the starter motor circuit was dislodged), and I called police and my auto shop. The police were out in minutes and took the cover pried off the bottom of the steering column for fingerprinting. The shop had a loaner car for me. The insurance company said, no worries.

Even with all that, I was in the office by 9.30 a.m. I managed to pick up a rental car the next day with Lynn and I juggled cars, Ben, a bike, and a return of the shop's loaner car. The adjuster from State Farm went to the shop, agreed to pay all charges, and a check arrived today, about three days after I spoke to him. I'm picking the car up tomorrow having returned the rental car today (of which State Farm paid about 70% of the overall cost).

We have had our cars rifled and pilfered in the past, and our new car has nothing valuable in it and a car alarm with a thing that disables the electronic ignition. So it's not a smart choice to steal--not a quiet choice and we're a quiet street. Most of the cars of people we know in the neighborhood have been gone through; we're in some kind of transition area with little home burglary and little violent crime. It's all car theft and petty theft (someone stole our rusty and tiny propane BBQ a couple years ago from the front lawn).

But we usually get a higher grade of car thief. A professional. And I didn't realize how much you appreciate a professional. Someone stole the car radio out of our Honda two or three years ago, and they did it so neatly that they didn't leave a mark. I was irritated at the time, partly because the radio probably would fetch $5, but now I understand that they could have done hundreds of dollars of damage quite easily; vandalism, even more.

As it stands, a few minutes of bad car thievery will cost $1,000 to fix. If they'd taken the car, I suppose we'd be in worse shape, as it's unlikely it would have been left in good condition or with parts intact. Better to get us back to status quo ante than have had a ruined car and the marginal value versus its higher current utility.