An Open Letter to My Thief (and Anyone Who Has Been a Crime Victim)
May 29, 2017
To whom it may concern,
Last week while I was in Dallas at a lovely restaurant in a nice part of town, you took something that did not belong to you. To be correct, you smashed in my friend’s car window, reached down under the passenger side seat, and stole items that were mine. Namely:
A Tumi briefcase (a gift from my husband)
A laptop (with 1,000s of hours of my work on it)
An old model IPhone (with pictures of my family)
A diamond pendant (bought to celebrate my first year as a consultant)
A pair of prescription Kate Spade eyeglasses
A laser pointer for presentations
Also a few other items of lesser/sentimental value:
A pair of Sketcher sneakers that no longer had treads but were just right for traveling
A small rock I held while in an emergency plane landing three years ago that changed my life. I always fly with it.
An embroidered travel Kleenex holder my friend made me last birthday
The perfect shade of red lip gloss
My hotel room key with the room number written on the packet
What on earth made you think that was an acceptable thing to do? You did not steal the beautiful Bible my friend had in the backseat, which is too bad, as that is something you might actually need. I wondered if you saw it lying there. I wondered if it caused you to pause for a second or two.
Over and over in my mind, I have lectured myself for a series of dumb actions I did leading up to your crime.
I should have been better about backing up my data
I should have kept my necklace in the hotel safe
I should have put my bag in the trunk of the car or schlepped it in with me to the restaurant…
I know that lots of victims blame themselves for the terrible things that happen to them. It seems easier to (mentally) lecture myself since you are not around to hear what I have to say. As of this letter however, I am not blaming myself, I am blaming YOU.
It had been a great evening of laughing with an old friend and his new wife over dinner. Because they are considerably younger, they said that my life was interesting and I should write a book about my adventures. Once they have a few more miles on their tires, their lives will also be filled with unexpected twists, and they will be able to write books of their own.
Then we saw their car window was smashed in. It was 9:15 PM and lots of people were standing around in the parking lot. I guess no one saw anything – at any rate – no one offered to help. I suppose you count on people being afraid of you so that they too carry some guilt as they silently watch you commit crimes. It must be comforting to be able to spread your bad feelings around to the victims and witnesses, not having to carry the burden all alone.
My friends are better Christians than I am and they calmly dialed 911. I borrowed my friend’s phone and called YOU- I mean I dialed my own stolen phone in the hopes that you would answer. You did not – but if you had – I was prepared to offer you cash for my stuff back. I would have gladly paid you much more than you likely got for the face value, because the hours of work I have poured into that laptop is only meaningful to me.
Since you did not answer my phone, I remembered that you were also in possession of my room key and number. It was a long shot, but I asked my friend to take me to the hotel on the off-chance that you were a drug addict and decided to have a moment or two in a clean place. As my friend and I walked down the hallway, he asked, “Do you have a plan of what to do if he is in your room?” It was an excellent question, but I had not gotten that far yet. I said that we should dial 911 and keep you in there. You never arrived.
The first thing I want to say to you is that I am sorry for whatever made you this desperate and cruel. You are a poor soul who needs to know that life is not about stealing but earning. Giving not taking makes you a richer person. I hope you get the help you obviously need and that you stop putting people through the type of pain you have inflicted on me and my family.
The other point I would like to make is to tell you that all of my items can be replaced, but no one can take away who I am. I will rebuild my data, learn from experience, and come out a richer person. We all know you cannot say the same.
Thank you for the reminder of what really matters in life. My health, family, and strength are better than a diamond pendant. I am proud of what I have accomplished and will do it again. My friends now have a new colorful story of their own, and we are all learning lessons from the experience.
One last thought about experiences. For anyone reading this who sometimes feels afraid to take a chance or make changes to your life, please know that while sometimes things go wrong, many more things go right. The kind detective, co-workers in Dallas, friends who offered support, the guy at geek squad, the tech at the Apple store, and my beautiful husband (who stayed up all night cancelling and changing all my passwords and bank accounts), these people catch me when I fall. If you never leave the comfort and security of your space, nothing bad will ever happen, but nothing truly good will happen either.
I am so thankful this Thanksgiving for the reminder that I am usually a strong woman able to take care of myself, AND when things go wrong I am surrounded by a network of love and kindness. This does not let YOU off the hook, but the human race is 99.9% amazing. I hope you will join us sometime.