Sunday, May 17, 2009

Lessons learned

A few weeks ago, my messenger bag was stolen. I left it in the front seat of my wife's car, underneath my sweatshirt, when we stopped for lunch after a swim meet. When we returned to the car about 1 hour 45 minutes later, the messenger bag was gone and the sweatshirt was on the seat.

The thieves did the screwdriver in the lock trick and opened up the door. They even locked the doors behind them (the key lock is on the driver's side, my bag was on the passenger).

I don't want to sound materialistic, but everything was in that bag. I'd take it with me where ever we go for extended periods of time: it was my office on the go, it was my entertainment center on the go, it was my productivity on the go.

Timbuk2 Medium Messenger Bag and a lot of stuff

That's what I mean when I said everything. There was altogether too much personal information on my laptop. There were photos on the camera that I hadn't downloaded yet. The iPod was chalk full of music and movies. My property tax bill was in there.

While I dealt with the police, Heather canceled credit cards. There were a few cards that we didn't know the phone number to, and by the time we got home, the thieves had tried to make 5 purchases on my American Express card.

The creepiest thing, though, happened a few days later. I received an anonymous package which contained my moleskine notebook, the expired credit cards, my hotel frequent-stay membership card, the property tax bill and a stack of low-value BART tickets. It was addressed in one handwriting, but on the back, in that perfect Grandmotherly cursive, "If unable to deliver, please deliver to police."

That doesn't cry out Good Samaritan to me. All of the things that are useless to anyone else were in the package. There was no note saying the stuff was found in a garbage can, no way to even give a reward, if it actually was an act of goodness.

This act of thievery really indicates the weakness of locks. If I'm going to keep all those critical things in one place, that place should be with me, even if I'm at a restaurant. Its been quite a PITA dealing with the insurance - not that the insurance is unpleasant - but it takes a great deal of effort to find replacement costs and when things were originally purchased. I'm still working on collecting the information.

Heather has said that I can't start to replace the purloined items, until we've been paid by the insurance. It's part of my penance. I had to do some homework by hand last week and needed a pencil. I found one of the kids' Lightning McQueen mechanical pencil and used that. Its a far cry from my Pentel P205 mechanical pencil.

Another important point that his highlighted was the importance of a good backup of data. Other than the fact that my data was in the hands of ne'er do wells, I had daily backups of my computer. Or so I thought. Unfortunately, the backups had failed about a month prior, so there was some loss of data. Somethings were on flickr, some were in email and some are just gone.

However, and this will be the topic of another blog posting, with the data that I did have, it was quite easy to reinstall Ubuntu and be back up and running.

So, as the final note: don't let your stuff get stolen; it sucks.


Anonymous said...

That really, really sucks. I'm sorry. What a nightmare. I am however giggling that you have to do penance, sorry but it's true. :P

We had fraud on my husband's credit card last year. Sorting it out was such a pain we recently decided to close the account and have done with it. The credit card company at first accepted the fraud, but then decided my husband could have flown from Jersey to Australia and back in two days, calling on five liquor outlets and three brothels during his stay. Luckily he was with me the whole time otherwise he would have some tricky explainin' to do.


Beau said...

Yeah, I remember you blogged or tweeted or something about that incident. I thought you got it cleared up quickly. That sucks that they went back on it.

Five liquor stores and 3 brothels in two days - that would make quite a trip - and incur much wifely wrath. There's something that would definitely require some penance.

Thanks for the good thoughts and I'm glad there are things that still make you giggle on the internetz.