Friday, May 05, 2006

They Stole My Car!!! But I Got It Back.

I am leaving to attend classes on Friday, April 28 – one week ago. I go to where my car was parked the night before – in front of my neighbor’s house. It’s not there!

I walked up and down the block; I even drove around the block with my other car (which I am selling, btw). I still couldn’t find it. I rush in house and call the police. An officer arrives and I start telling him about my car. It was a black 1999 Plymouth Breeze. I had just bought it less than a week earlier. There was an alarm installed on the car when I bought it, but I didn’t have a remote so I had it disabled – planning to get it replaced April 29 or 30. I had bought a Club-like device, but since my father drove and parked the car that day, he didn’t put the Club on, and I was planning to drive it later that day but didn’t.

The police officer was very polite and friendly – one of the perks of living in a suburb. A major city is right across the street. The officer told me that 90% of car thefts in our suburb happen within a few blocks of the city-suburb border – lucky me.

Not two minutes after the office leaves, I get a call on my cell phone: “Hi, was your car stolen last night?” I was stunned, how did he know??? It turns out that this man, Bill, works at a shipping business in the city, only a few miles from my house. Bill came to work in the morning to find two cars sitting on blocks outside the main gate – my car, and another car that was also stolen not too far from where I live and also near the city-suburb border.

According to Bill, only my tires and rims had been taken. He also advised that I came soon before the car was vandalized. So now I had to go claim my car back. I called AAA for towing service, but they told me that I needed at least two tires for them to tow it.

So now I gotta get tires. I call my uncle, who is a mechanic and who I bought the car from. He felt so bad. He managed to find a set of tires I could borrow from a junk yard guy he knows. Before picking up the tires, I decided to check out my car first. I found where my car was supposed to be – but it wasn’t there!

All that was there were a set of cement blocks thrown on the grass and a bunch of tire nuts. Where could it have gone? Was it really possible that the crooks got to it? Or was it the legendarily slow police?

I tried to call Bill, but he could not be reached. So I stopped a truck driver who had just left the Bill’s business. He said there was a police car and then a tow truck, but had not further information. I was relieved – at least there was hope that my car was in the hands of the law. I spent the next hour or two trying to find out where they took my car, but the city police department was clueless. They kept referring me to some number where I was put on hold forever.

I got frustrated and headed home. I figured that some impound yard somewhere has my car. I looked up a few on the internet. I called the first one. They didn’t have my car, but the lady gave me a list of other towing companies that might have it. One by one, I called – one by one, they didn’t have my car. I was down to the last number – running out of hope. I called the last number and success! – they have my car!

It was not going to be cheap. They wanted $80 in impound fees. And they wanted $30 to install a set of tires that I am providing. So I pick up the tires from the junk yard, take it to the impound yard, and have them install it. Now, how to get it out of there? They guy at the impound yard told me that I should be able to just drive it out. I find a screwdriver, turn the ignition and viola! It starts – it’s alive, alive!

I drove it right to my uncle’s mechanic shop. The initial assessment: $200 for a new ignition column and over $300 for a set of tires and rims. I had only bought the car for $3000. I was bummed.

Things started to look up, however, when I found the ignition column on the floor. My uncle was able to reinstall it in less than a day. And the tires? One of the mechanics at the shop had a car that didn’t run anymore and would sell me tires and rims for $150 – not bad.

So far, this was all on done on Friday. On Saturday, I got my car back, picked up and installed the new set of tires, and returned the borrowed set. I bought a new Club-like device then drove my car directly to a car accessory store to get a car alarm installed (I paid a little extra for keyless entry and remote start).

Even if I had insurance coverage for theft (I only have one-way liability), the cost to repair would have been less than the deductible – another reason why I really hate insurance. Oh, and they would have raised my premiums.

All in all, it was a bad weekend, but it could have been much, much worst.


At 4:30 PM, Blogger Robert Freeman said...

That must have been frustrating.

Glad you got the car back and running.


At 11:36 AM, Anonymous Gina Cobb said...

That's a rough time of it! I admire how you just went and handled all the hassles one by one and worked so diligently to get your car back.

Some people would have given up too soon and would never have found their car. Others might have solved the problem but would not be able to discuss the whole incident without at least a little dose of cheerfulness. It was a bad break but you handled it really well.

Remember that next time life hands you lemons. You are a proven lemonade maker!


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