We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Tuesday, June 26. 2012
I considered asking readers what crimes they may have committed, but figured few would respond despite the fact that we all have made dumb mistakes. (See The average professional in this country wakes up in the morning, goes to work, comes home, eats dinner, and then goes to sleep, unaware that he or she has likely committed several federal crimes that day.)
So my first for this summer is this:
What crimes have you been subject to in your lifetime? - Not including ordinary rip-offs, school-age or barroom fist-fights, or unpaid invoices.
I'll start it off. I had a car stolen in Hartford about 15 years ago, and we had five saddles stolen from the barn about 6 years ago while vacationing. That's all I can recall. Never anything with violence or threat of violence, thank God. Well, I did run from two would-be young muggers in Cambridge many years ago when I was fleet of foot. Got into my car on a dark street before they caught up with me. I have a CT carry permit now, but I never carry out of state. That's jail time.
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Grandfather's entire and valuable gun collection stolen, in the 70s.
Held up in NYC with a .22 pistol in my belly. Morningside Heights.
Car stolen, upper West Side NYC
Caught burglar in apartment, NYC. Chased him away with ice-axe.
Entire antique furniture and decoration collection stolen from the Farm, 1990s.
Garage broken into, bikes and fishing poles stolen (!)
Car broken into, NYC. Stole my ski parka.
None, nada, nessuno in 81 years. Lived in a number of large and small U.S. cities and Panama. Spent time in most western European capitals and many smaller cities, as well as most Middle East capitals. Also spent time in Tripoli, Beirut, Addis Ababa, Karachi, Peshawar, Teheran, Diyabakir, Manama.... Finally spent time in most South American capitals and several smaller cities. Probably left out some. Was adventurous and did my share of carousing in earlier times. Never gave much thought to being a crime victim. Just lucky I guess.
Should have pointed out my "active" years were '50s and 60's. Different world.
One apartment, two break-ins. Actually felt a bit sorry for the second thief, because the first had even stripped the sheets off my bed two days earlier!
Contrast with my current place. When I was taken to the hospital, an EMT closed the door - or thought he had, my door closes but does not latch without some effort. At some point, wind blew it open. I got home after two weeks, door wide open - not a thing missing.
1. Mugged, knifepoint, Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C., 9th Street just North of Stanton Park. Two Black kids, one about 15 years and what looked to be his 10 year old brother. Broad daylight about 3 PM. Older kid whips out knife. I instinctively grab his wrist and twist it over and behind a loop of wrought iron fence (those fences are all over D.C.). He looks at me astonished and stutters out "Wha - What're you doing, man??!!" Meanwhile kid brother rummages through my pockets and grabs what he thinks is my wallet, yells "I got it!!" and runs. Older kid twists away and runs. Leaves me with the knife. Old lady across the street yells after them "I saw what you did!! I'm calling the police!" Police come & I make a report, turn over the knife. What did they steal? A rubber-banded clump of Zinnia and Morning Glory seed packets.
2. Convertible top slashed, car rummaged, McClendon Ave., Atlanta. Stole a pair of broken prescription sunglasses and a flashlight. Car doors were unlocked. Thief appears to have sliced the top so he could reach through and unlock the doors. What he probably did was reach through and lock it and then have to reach back through to unlock it again. Jackass.
That's it. Never once had any trouble in NYC or Brooklyn when I lived there.
In D.C. I lived on Capitol Hill just inside the corner of Constitution and 4th, N.E. That's a five minute walk from the Supreme Court. I heard more random gunfire there than I did in NYC or here in Atlanta. That's been the only place where I expected, as a matter of course, for my house to be broken into. Didn't happen, as it turned out. That was in the early '90s a few years after D.C. earned its (temporary) spot as "murder capitol of the U.S.".
In D.C. then there were plenty of hot burglaries of residences - called "hot" because the residents are at home. There are plenty of residential break-ins here in Atlanta, but not too many hot ones. The criminals expect people inside are armed, and a very high proportion of them are. I live in an old working class neighborhood, mixed Black and White, with a lot of long-time residents. I know my neighbors, and almost all of them are armed.
Incident #1: Begin working on the road so put up entire household into a storage facility. The guy who owns the storage company sells to another company; the go through and send "everybody" notices to vacate. However, some of "US" didn't get any notice and our storage lockers were broken into on the 30th day from the claimed mail out date of the notice and all--ALL of our belongings were "sold off". To who? New owner doesnt' know. We (there were several of us) file a lawsuit and get abvout .10on the dollar.
Second event:Several years later when my husband and I were newly married, we became members of that small elite group of people who had a moving truck of thieves pull up to the house and clean out EVERYTHING in less than an hour. I mean EVERY THING! Daughter's playhouse, hubby's working drawings, furniture, family photo album, family bible, etc. Cops tell us, they do it that way. Bunch of guys grab everything that is not nailed to the wall, load into a truck and then go to some empty warehouse site and sort things out there. Some goes to Saturday market, things of value go to dealers, some stuff gets moved and advertised in markets out of state, etc.
My sixteen year old daughter was jumped outside of a small apartment building next door to where Diane Feinstein was living in San Francisco. Two black guys held her down, while the third pulled her jewelry off of her. Two guys grabbed her purse and jewelry and took off running--third guy was moving her into the bushes to do God knows what when people came out of the building and scared him off.
These three events were in the best part of San Francisco--you know that lovely, ever so caring city of love! Yeah you betcha!
The funny follow up to the event with my daughter was two days later some elderly African/American guy found her driver's license and what was left of her wallet outside of a trash bin the bad housing development. He called her to give it back to her, we reported it to the police and asked them to drive her there so she could recover her things. Cops would NOT get out of the car at the place. Daughter did though--she is balanced and strong. She thanked the old man and gave him $5.00. He said he was sorry folks from his hood would do that. Castrato cops . . .
The most egregious theft occurs on campus-- in academia. It is the extortion committed by those who have been given tenure without the qualifying talent, skill, or proper experience. They will steal your words, your ideas, your course outlines, your proposals, your research funds, your reading list: any GD thing they can get their hands on to make themselves look good!
I was mugged in Seattle, WA: 3 broken ribs and broken front teeth.
A few years ago my wife was the victim of a brazen pickpocket in Beijing, China. She had her wallet stolen out of her closed backpack while she was in a crowd of Chinese tourists who were struggling to look through the open doorway into the interior of the Qinian Dian (Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests) building in the Temple of Heaven complex. We did not realize we were victims of the theft until much later, when we started walking out of the site to return to our hotel and looked for the business card our hotel had provided us to give to the taxi driver. My wife considers herself a careful and cautious tourist, and since we had been warned about pickpockets this was a terrible blow to our pride. We should never have let our guard down. We spent the rest of the afternoon canceling her stolen credit cards, using the photocopy record we had made as a precaution before we left home. The thief/ves managed to make one quick purchase at the Burberry store near our hotel before her credit cards were blocked. In the end, the illegal charge was erased and we were not charged for it. It should be fairly obvious, of course, that a thief who must have been Chinese should not have been able to use a credit card with a non-Chinese cardholder's name on it, unless the sales clerk was an accomplice of the thief. We did not file a police report in Beijing. We were told nothing much would come of it and it would have ruined yet another day of our trip, so we just pressed on. Except for a bit of inconvenience, there was no other fallout from the theft in the year following our return home.
Shortly after we married, someone broke into our little rental house and cleaned us out. I lost my class ring, and worse, my TI SR-52 card programmable calculator (I'd also had one stolen in college). The wife lost most of what little jewelry she had. We had to phone the police from a neighbor's house because the thieves also stole our phone. That same day, I had to work late and didn't make it to the insurance guy to buy renter's insurance as planned. We'd have been covered had I gotten the insurance that day.
My uncle, by marriage, was convicted about 15 years after the crime of killing my aunt, in the late '60s, and leaving my cousins motherless. Initially, investigations of him went nowhere. Several other women he was in relationship with also disappeared, so eventually police in several states put two plus two together. Although no bodies were ever found he was finally convicted of two murders and died in prison. I was living on the other side of the country by the time of his capture and trial, but it was pretty tough on my parents and family.
This makes the loss of a calculator pretty trivial, doesn't it?
Only two incidents. The first one was in 1982, house broken into and all my camera gear, including my dark room, was stolen - everything gone. About $11,000 in today's dollars worth of gear.
Second was in 2003 - somebody hot wired the console on my 32' Contender CC and stole the boat right out of Borden Light Marina. The USCG found it floating off Martha's Island with the engines and all the electronics gone. Fortunately it was insured for full value so I didn't lose very much money on that one.
Watched my car window broken from 7th floor of UNC library and contents removed.
Robbed at gunpoint in house and later taken to office to get more cash
Murder scene of friend
Murder scene of friend of friend
Employee knifing 1cm from heart
Armed assault of friends with pistol whipping
Heard testimony from person whose friend told him who killed him (the friend) before the friend passed away
Maybe more, but this is the worst. I live in the very 3rd world
2 cars stolen out of our driveway about 5 years apart. Held up by a thug with a sawed-off shotgun at our retail establishment. The worst was a trusted manager who embezzled several thousand dollars from our restaurant while we were on our honeymoon.
My wife and I were giving her cousin and her cousin's husband a tour around town a while back. I was driving, our visitors were riding in the back seat of the car. We decided at one point to stop for a bite to eat at a roadside lunch truck. I parked on the wide grass strip that formed the shoulder of the road, next to several other parked cars. We had warned both our visitors to leave absolutely nothing in the car. Unfortunately the cousin ignored us and she left her purse on the floor, tucked under the front seat, out of sight of prying eyes she must have thought. We went over to the lunch truck, which was really close by and bought our food, then came back to the car after only 10 minutes. When we got back to the car, we found the front passenger window was smashed in and the purse was gone, along with the $1000 in cash that was in it. A cell phone in the purse was also missing. We spent about an hour cleaning up the hundreds of small pieces of glass that covered the front seat and the dashboard so we could drive away. We then drove to a local police station that was located JUST 50 YARDS DOWN THE ROAD, across from the crime scene, where we filed a report. The stolen purse and the wallet inside with the cash were never found. However, the cousin's cell phone was found by a woman who spotted it on the ground along the side of the road a few miles away. She used it to let us know she had it and we drove back out again to pick it up. That was the only item we ever recovered. Our insurance paid for replacing the car window and fixing a few scratches to the paint job.
As a naive college student I was once conned out of $85 in Washington, DC. This is how I really learned about "street smarts".
At twenty-three, car stolen and had every tool I needed to earn a living taken, worse, my grandfathers pocketwatch from Denmark that I had been given to take to be repaired. Thats when I learned the concept of being ashamed about being victimized.
One week after my house burned down, and forty years of photography went up in smoke, a thief broke into my car (hey, I had nowhere else to store anything!) and stole my last surviving camera. Thats my definition of adding insult to injury.
On the plus side, twice I stopped a woman from being assaulted. Didn't have to use violence, I went over and was large.
Hmmmm . . . ahh, memories . . .
I worked in a gas station in a bad part of town for several years when I was 14 - 17. During that time:
- robbed at gunpoint - guy just took cigs
- robbed at gunpoint - guy shot at me from about five feet away, missed, lost his nerve and ran out
- robbed at long-scary-looking-kitchen-knifepoint - guy took all the cash - maybe $75
- robbed at rifle-point! - looked like a .22 - just took cig cartons (there was this old wives tale amongst the drunk thieves club that if you didn't take cash and you got caught, they couldn't charge you as seriously. Wrong.)
- robbed at knifepoint - cop came around end of building from behind the guy (this was a corner lot) raised his gun, shot the guy in the back, and then yelled "Freeze!" I shook for hours.
- Carjacked by guy with a big scary-looking (this was a source of some embarrassment later) potato peeler. And they didn't call it "carjacking" back then. ("OK, lemme get this straight: he stole your car with you in it?")
- staying with grandparents in bad part of Minneapolis - we got home-invaded by three guys with guns and really weird faces - turned out to be nylons, I'd never seen what they can do to a face - they insisted my grandpa had a pile of cash somewhere in the house - beat us up some and left.
Skip a few years . . .
- I'm not going to itemize this one - I'll just say, if you're going to make divorce a part of your practice, keep your home address a complete secret - no DL listing, no property in your name, no way big people with guns or hammers can find you. "Nuff said.
As a girl with overprotective and congenitally anxious parents, I've been conditioned from the cradle to be cautious and I've had a pretty lucky and mild track record:
--While a college student riding my bike home through Santa Barbara after a movie (actually, while walking it up a hill) I was attacked by a guy, but was able to run him off by screaming and punching him in the face. I have escaped from various other gropings and threatenings in my youth which fortunately did not escalate to actual crimes. I was a volunteer worker at one period of my life for a rape crisis center in Raleigh, NC and realized then how lucky I've been.
--Had my bike stolen in Hyde Park, Chicago, 1977. My husband had stupidly left it chained to the fence along the sidewalk behind our apartment.
--Mugged at knifepoint in the vestibule of my apartment building at 6 p.m. in Hyde Park, Chicago, 1980; purse stolen.
Since moving into middle age and living in the 'burbs, the only crimes we have experienced have been people ripping off our credit card info every decade or so (somebody in a a hotel in Santa Monica where we stayed one night, for example). The criminals buy jewelry in Africa or whatever, but our credit card company always absolves us of the charges.
"Some will rob you with a six gun and some with a fountain pen."
When is fraud a crime? Isn't it a form of theft?
We were defrauded by a home builder, eventually obtaining a judgment against him. He drained the company of assets, transferring them to relatives and his other entities. In federal bankruptcy court he has walked away with all of his wealth intact, while we owe a considerable amount due to the litigation (that we did not initiate) and repairs to the house. The bankruptcy court has determined that pursuing the assets is too expensive.
From volunteering with a national group that assists homeowners who end up in this situation, this kind of theft is common and the perps regularly escape accountability.
DH just got conned by African/American selling magazines for soldiers; the company is called Friendship Publishers. Slam the door! He gave the guy $65 in cash. After the guy left I looked em up on the scam report! Stupid. Stupid. The libs are bringing in "community organizers" (color) from WA--most certainly gonna lose things a lot more valuable than things--free elections, right to work, and to speak. You know the story! They are here!
I was attacked from behind many years ago in the WTC. The perp hit me in the head from behind as I entered the escalator down to the PATH trains. It was a long way down, late in the evening. Lost maybe $25.
City Cops didnt want to write a report- told me to call the subway cops.
Mostly hurt pride- I am very lucky
Just this day...
In the wee hours of the morning...
A gaggle of deer massacred my acreage: horrific fatalities to flower heads, leaves, stems, -- even green tomatoes.
Perps entirely amoral.
Seeking advice to ward off these hoofers.
In high school, I was robbed at gunpoint during summer vacation while working midnite shift in a gas station. The Puerto Rican owner demanded that I make good on the stolen money. I had no money to speak of, so he fired me on the spot. I haven't like Puerto Ricans since. Not fair, I know. But there it is.
On my way to Viet Nam [old timey spelling], the night before I shipped out I mistakenly wandered into a black area of San Francisco. Robbed in uniform.
And a couple other robberies/break-ins over the years, when I wasn't home, but nothing major stolen. Car broken into twice.
BUT... the WORST experience has been over the past year:
Some workers were in my house, and I had just taken 30 years worth of U.S. Savings Bonds that I had bought during my carreer out of my safety deposit box to write down all the serial numbers, which I had been meaning to do for a long time. I intended to take them to the bank on Monday.
But it was the weekend by the time I wrote down all the serial numbers, so I put the stack of bonds into a bedroom drawer. When the workers had gone, I discovered the bonds [73 of them, mostly $1,000 face value, and six with $10K face value] were missing.
I had just recorded the serial numbers, so I downloaded the Treasury Department's forms to replace missing or stolen bonds, and sent it in by registered mail. That was last year.
Since then I have written five follow-up letters, and called numerous times leaving messages [no one returns the calls].
Still no replacement bonds. So I went to my Congressional Representative's office and spoke with an intern. She at least got someone to return my call. But it is now a year later, and still no bonds.
The government is the biggest thief there is. I've now contacted a lawyer, who thinks he can get some action, but legal costs will take a big chunk out of the savings.
WARNING: DO NOT buy U.S. Savings Bonds!! If you lose them or they are stolen, the federal beurocracy will grind you down, and you will end up just like me, trying to fight city hall. The government DOES NOT keep its word regarding lost or stolen bonds. And yes, they were bought by me, and registered in my name.
Worked in bad neighborhood, (once residents attacked the fire department with rocks and bottles because they wanted to see the house burn). You were told when working second shift not to stop at red lights after dark, if any one was standing near the curb. Even the Police wouldn't come into this area unless there was 2 or more cop cars with them. Leaving work one afternoon two rough looking white guys roared up beside me yelling they were going to kick my a**, I reached under my seat. as they were watching me, to get something made by Taurus, and suddenly they staightened up looked staight ahead and made the next right. they didn't even see what I was reaching for...