On being a crime victim

Hey, Barb! I still owe you a response to your question about Traffic and Crash and The Wire. Been a bit busy. However, I think that I have additional experience now to tack on to whatever answer I finally develop.

For those of you who don’t know, last Saturday, while Crystal and I were driving home from Erie (you know, after her mother died and all that particular joy), we were robbed. We stopped in Indianapolis at a Cracker Barrel and, while we were eating inside, parties unknown smashed one of the car windows and stole a bunch of stuff from the back seat.

So, I’m heading out to the car, while Crystal is, uh, attending to some business inside. I see a police car parked near our car. I’m thinking, “Oh no. What’s going on? We haven’t done anything wrong. It’s a rental car….” And so on and so forth. But I continue to walk the car.

Then I see the woman sitting in the passenger seat of the police car. This is a bit unusual. Normally, if you’re busted, you’re in the back of the car. Then I see her car and the shattered glass. Now I understand! She’s filing a report, and the police officer let her sit in the car, where it’s not quite so cold.

My heart goes out to the poor woman. “That’s terrible,” I think. “I can only imagine what that would feel like.”

And then I see our car, window similarly smashed.

Even then, it takes me a moment to realize that stuff is missing from the back seat.

I’m really surprised at how matter-of-fact I felt about it all. At least right then.

The rest of the scenario played out about how you’d expect. We talked to the police officer and filed a report of our own. The other woman, who actually works at the restaurant, ran back inside to check the security camera tapes. No dice; our cars were both conveniently in a dead zone of coverage. We canvassed the area a bit, hoping that the thieves had stashed our stuff somewhere to come back for it. Nope.

All of it was gone.

My laptop was gone. Among other things, it held my gaming archive, including various playtest versions of games, hard-to-find character sheets (like the sheets for The Mountain Witch). It also included notes for various games-in-progress, as well as my manuscript for Showdown.


My backups were on external hard drives, in case of hardware failure. They were in the laptop bag.


Those of you who have met me know that I carry a large black bag. I’ve done this ever since college. My bag is my toolkit for life. If I think that I might need something, I carry it in there. So, on our trip, my bag contained the following:

–my brand-new ESV Study Bible
–copies of each of my games (including my personal copy of Junk)
–my copies of Breaking the Ice and Shooting the Moon, each autographed by Emily Care Boss
–the game Hive, including the Mosquito expansion
–the book I was currently reading (Homicide by David Simon)
–the book I had finished reading (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen)
–my PDA charger
–my phone charger
–several decks of cards
–several pens
–a digital recorder
–a green plastic alien who dangled from one of the zippers, which had been a present from my sister Elizabeth

And more, of course.

My bag is an extension of myself, almost a portable sanctum.


The list goes on. Crystal’s dad had given her a couple pieces of jewelry that her mom had bought before she died. They were in another bag in the back seat, which was taken.

Crystal’s slippers.

Several of my CDs, including one on loan from Raquel.

Gone. Gone. Gone.

They didn’t take everything, thank God. But they made out…well, they made out like bandits.

And somewhere in there, my emotions caught up with me. And, besides the anger and the sadness, there was this feeling of being offended. What had I done to these people that they treat me like this?

And then I felt violated. This was more than just my sense of security being shattered, though that’s certainly true. Rather, I felt attacked. These are things that I carry close to me, and they had been suddenly stripped from me. Violence had touched me, leaving me feeling exposed to the cold dark world.

I really needed that laptop to do work this week. Instead, I’m trying to do time-sensitive work while configuring a new computer. That’s frustrating.

I’m so used to carrying my bag everywhere that the lack of it is a constant reminder of what happened and what I lost. Crystal encouraged me to start putting together another bag, which I’ve done. But, it’s not really ready yet. And I’ll never be able to replace that green dangly alien.

And here I am, writing this, and I’m actually starting to cry over a silly plastic alien.

But it was special. It meant something to me. It was mine.

And someone stole it away from me. Just like that. Stole it and probably threw it away, because it wasn’t actually worth any money. Or worse, dangling from someone’s key ring as a trophy of that amazing smash-and-grab where they scored big.

If you have to be a victim of a crime, I guess this is the best kind. Neither Crystal or I were hurt. In fact, neither of us were physically threatened in any way. I mean, I’ve been reading Homicide, right? Those victims don’t get to walk away. So, I’m thankful to God for that.

And yet, we both are still feeling violated and hurt. And, honestly, there’s nothing to do except try to move on from here and say, “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” And, by God’s grace, that’s what we shall do.

But, I suppose, I have also gained something. I have gained an immediate understanding of what it feels like to be a victim of crime. And, if nothing else, I will be better able to empathize with others who have been similarly victimized. And, perhaps, I will be better equipped to help stop others from being victimized, too.

And, lest anyone is concerned, yes, I still plan on making and playing crime games. I mean, after an experience like this, how could I stop?

5 responses to “On being a crime victim

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