Statistics on car thefts barely blipped on my radar screen until I became a statistic myself. Sure, it was mildly disquieting to discover that since 1996, Canada has held the unenviable title of “car-theft capital of North America”. Or that, according to Statistics Canada, every three minutes another car is stolen, and a car is more likely to be stolen in major hubs like Toronto, Montreal, Halifax, and Vancouver because that makes them easier to export.
But it wasn’t until the local paper announced car theft is down 50% in my hometown of Surrey, once dubbed the “car-theft capital of Canada,” that I really took notice. Why? Because two days prior my husband tried to go to work and couldn’t because the car was no longer sitting in the driveway, centimeters from our front door. It had been stolen.
Granted, only a month earlier, as reported here in BoB, my daughter had delivered an entire speech giving the reasons why cars suck, but she changed her mind once ours was gone. As her father called the police to report the theft, we hurried into my infamous Bad Ass Truck to get to school before the second bell. I tried to argue away her worries about the house now being unsafe (I was fighting back my own fears), the car never coming back (maybe she was right), and her conviction that it was her fault the car was stolen: the dog had barked the night before, she said, and she hadn’t paid attention.
In contrast, my son was stalwart all day. It was the next week of sleepless nights that were more difficult, for all of us: nights filled with fear, of thoughts of the rental car being stolen, of thieves breaking into our home. I thought of ridiculous things, like would we get back Crazy Sue, the red-haired doll that had lived in our car for years? How about her companions, the teeny-tiny bear family?
I even began to miss the way the little headlights popped up, and how little bells chimed when I left the lights on after I’d parked.
Regarding theft prevention, we’d done what we were supposed to do, for the most part. Don’t leave the keys in the car (they were in the house with us), don’t leave valuables in plain sight (we’d cleaned the car out that day), and park in a safe location (you’d think by the front door would be safe enough). It’s also important to buy an alarm or steering wheel lock, especially if you have the misfortune of owning one of the easier vehicles to break into. Although my Honda Accord isn’t even on the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s top 10 stolen car list of 2006, we’d still purchased a steering wheel lock. Granted, we’d lost it somewhere shortly after we purchased it, but at least we owned one.
Despite our futile attempts and the positive local statistics, our car was still missing, and in my misery I did find plenty of company. I’d unwittingly joined the non-elitist club of people who’ve had their cars disappear. And the members I spoke with assured me that the police would definitely find my car, although I wouldn’t want it in the condition it came back in — there was talk of lingering cigarette smoke, stiletto heel holes in the interior roof, and stains on the upholstery. So once my kids were used to the rental — the 2008 Toyota Corolla that was so quiet my son slept rather than got car sick — once my kids decided they liked the clean, “just like grandpa and grandma’s car” smell, and once I accepted that the perfect silver vehicle (albeit a rental) sitting in my parking space really was there for me to use, I had talked myself into thinking it would be better if our stolen car was a write-off.
However, the police found our abandoned car five days later, at exactly the distance the quarter tank of gas could take whoever borrowed it, on the side of a lonely back road. There was a broken window, broken ignition, broken passenger side lock, broken headlight, blown alignment, and filthy upholstery, but it was all fixable. So much for getting a newer car.
But a quick look inside showed at least one upside: Crazy Sue was still inside, hat intact, red cowboy shoes still on, and all four members of the bear family too.
And we finally found the steering wheel lock.
It was in the trunk of our car, unused.