|Last week’s column brought me a few comments, and I want to share one particular one with my readers. For those who didn’t read that column, or don’t have access to it, I wrote about my brand new purse. Having it stolen. From my office. Right off my desk. While I was but a few yards away, on the very first day that we have someone new start work at the Las Vegas Tribune
I stated that I did not see the thief do it, but the good news is that since the thief used at least one of my credit cards, there is a traceable trail… and presumably, it will lead right back to said thief, since the fraud detectives are on the case.
But today I’m going to write about another kind of purse stealing. Right out in the open.
My friend was walking along the street with two companions – one male and one female. His female friend was carrying a purse on her shoulder; a very normal thing to do. When they got to the corner, they stood close to the curb to get ready for the dash across the street before the flashing hand would tell them their crossing time had run out.
Since I have been in that position often, I totally get the picture. And I also get the picture that many cars will whip around the corner where pedestrians are standing and practically knock them down. Yes, sometimes they do get knocked down, if not from actually being hit, then from the unexpected sudden movement of the car as it goes past them, missing them by the breath of a hare. Translated, that would mean the car probably touched them, but it was the shock or surprise and the motion of the car going by that made them fall, not the impact of the touch.
So couple that careless, thoughtless, dangerous, and mindless behavior of drivers approaching corners where pedestrians are waiting to cross with the heart and intention of a thief, and we’re ready for some very creative purse-snatching.
My friend was talking to his male friend on the right when he suddenly heard a thud and saw that his female friend on the left was down on the ground! Naturally, he thought the careless and thoughtless driver that just whipped around the corner had hit her. Not exactly. Oh, he made a hit all right, but it was the hit of a thief.
Seeing the woman’s purse on her shoulder – in the fashion that most women carry such purses – he simply drove up extra close to the corner, just as so many mindless drivers do anyway, pulled the purse from her shoulder and sped away. The force of the pulling of the purse off her shoulder caused her to fall down.
Now chances are that no woman reading this is going to have her purse pulled off her shoulder while standing at the curb waiting to cross today. I would have said that chances are no one would steal my purse off my desk while at my office either. But here’s the thing: someone with stealing in his or her heart is just waiting for that ripe opportunity! Those of us who don’t put ourselves in the shoes – or mindset – of a would-be thief all the time will fail to see that ripe opportunity that we are creating and therefore make it all the moreappealing.
So in addition to watching out for one’s physical safety when walking down streets and standing at corners waiting to cross, consider that if your purse is hanging from your shoulder, and you are near the road where cars drive by, you are offering some would-be thief a ripe opportunity to snatch and drive away.
Strangely enough, the new purse that was snatched from my desk was a special cross-body bag that was designed to ward off this very thing! If one wears one’s purse or bag across the body, it does not offer the same kind of allure to a thief since it cannot easily be pulled off the would-be victim and will likely be passed over for a much easier target.
In keeping with this subject of stolen purses, or any kind of bag that will be a temptation to those with thievery in their hearts, remember that purses/man-bags or backpacks in shopping carts also offer a great opportunity for those who are out treasure-hunting for their next stolen treasure.
Should anyone have the misfortune to have their purse meet up with the thief du jour, there are some things you will need to do. Everyone knows they should cancel their credit cards and inform their bank, and call the police to report the incident. However, I highly recommend making that police report in person if at all possible, since things can get somewhat discombobulated when doing it by phone. And inform everyone from whom you had a card of some kind (that is now in their possession and may well be used as if it were you using it) – the DMV, your library, Social Security, your apartment complex, etc. – that it was stolen.
But some pre-disaster advice that may serve you well is to take every card out of your purse or wallet right now, arrange them on a piece of paper, and copy them. Then look up all the phone numbers for each issuer of each card, and write them right on the paper. Then list all the other important things that you usually carry in your purse (medications and their prescription numbers; a favorite recipe or photos that can’t be replaced; all the keys you have, and where the spares are kept. (Be sure that you don’t keep identification on your keys for storage lockers or things of that sort. And get your house locks changed as soon as possible.) Keep that copy at home to make your life much easier in the event you should meet up with one of those persons who thinks he or she is much smarter than you, and obviously more important, since they believe that they should be able to just take from you whatever they want.
Final thoughts: A purse is just a purse. Credit cards can be replaced, and nothing in your purse or wallet is worth losing your life over. On a lesser note, losing anything – even of great value – is not worth going into despair or living in a state of gloom or doom. Think about that right now and what it will feel like. But more important, think of how you’ll outsmart any arrogant would-be thief by eliminating those ripe opportunities; how you’ll safeguard your own purse as you go about the rest of your life. Yet should some creative thief break through anyway, prepare for the possibility by being proactive with that copy of what’s what at the ready.
And for Pete’s sake, don’t stand so close to the curb!
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Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her email@example.com.