Crime doesn’t pay

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By Nick Schrager

 Aug. 7 started like any other Thursday. I woke up, prayed, made coffee and went to get the trashcans from the side of the road. 

On my way there, I saw a cigarette with a chewed up filter lying underneath my car on the passenger side. At the time, I hadn’t smoked a cigarette in 537 days. 

Suspicious, I decided to give my car a once over to make sure no vandals had paid a visit. Thankfully, no one trashed my car, but it was apparent that someone had been in it.

To my surprise, everything from my glove box and center console was strewn about while the CD player’s knob had been taken off and cast aside. On top of all my registration and insurance paperwork sat my Canon 60D with 70-200 f/4L lens.

For those of you that know your cameras, you may be wondering the same thing I was. Why didn’t they take it? 

Though they spared me the 60D, they took my Canon Rebel XSi with kit lens. It’s an entry-level DSLR, though not cheap by any means. The only reason I can think of why they took it is because it weighs a lot less. 

Needless to say, I was distraught. After putting everything back, I noticed that a Gerber pocketknife my dad had given me several years ago was also missing. It wasn’t a showpiece or anything, but very utilitarian and sentimental nonetheless. 

I spent the morning completely upset and bummed out and only had myself to blame. I normally don’t leave cameras in the car and normally don’t leave the car unlocked. Despite my foolishness though, I didn’t put a sticky note on my mailbox saying: please come up my driveway, enter my car, go through my things, and take my camera.

Believe me, I won’t be making the same mistakes again.

After coming to terms with the situation, I thanked God for sparing me the better of the two cameras and tried to go about my day, figuring my stolen items were long gone. 

Despite coming to terms though, the hole was still there. The camera that was stolen was the one I learned on in college and during my internship. In fact, I still used it for work on nearly every assignment.

Honestly, a camera to me is what a paint brush is to a painter, or a tractor is to a farmer. It’s an expensive tool I use to make money with, and it’s very difficult to just replace without saving for a very long time or taking out a loan. Neither of which I’d be able to do for several years to come. 

Luckily, however, I won’t need to buy a replacement, because this story has somewhat of a happy ending. 

After being pressed by the staff at The Enterprise, I went to the sheriff’s office that afternoon to file a report. A few short questions later about what had been taken, I was informed they had my stuff. I went to the back of the office and saw he had taken a lot more than just my camera and pocketknife. He also got my backpack, which had an extra set of clothes in it, my GPS, and one of my audio recorders. Unfortunately though, I didn’t see my pocketknife. 

“He got you good,” one of them said.

But I wasn’t the only victim. It looked like he used my backpack to carry things he’d stolen from other cars in my neighborhood.

We did the paperwork right there and in less than an hour, I had most of my stuff back. 

After getting home, I called the sheriff’s office to ask if they needed the cigarette he left as evidence. They told me they’d call back, but at the time of this writing, they haven’t. (Seriously, call me back. I doubt you need it but I don’t want to throw it away only to have you call back and say I’ve tampered with evidence!)

The next day, I was forwarded a copy of the media release from the sheriff’s office. The email included the suspect’s name, age, and what he’s being charged with. Naturally curious, I looked up what the possible punishment for the charge is. It really got me thinking. If you were to ask at the time of this writing how I feel about his possible punishment, I wouldn’t know what to say. I feel somewhat to blame for leaving one car door unlocked. But with the exception of the pocketknife, pretty much everything he took was work-related. They weren’t luxuries. Without them, my life would be extremely difficult and I wouldn’t be able to make money. Then I’d be in real trouble. 

On that note, my neighbor’s cars were also invaded and they had their property taken as well. I like my neighbors, and feel for them, too. 

So with that said, I guess I could say I’m a victim of theft and a victim of mixed emotions. I honestly hope we all (including the guy who stole our stuff) learn a lot from this experience, and build upon it. We all make mistakes. 

Unfortunately, for everyone involved in this incident, the first lesson is crime doesn’t pay. While we got most our stuff back, it wasn’t a pleasant experience at all.