Lessons learnt from being a victim of theft from car / vehicle (And an update on the aftermath)

Never say never. This old adage is true.

Do you see such reminder signage around your Neighbourhood car parks (especially HDB flats?)

And dismissed it most of the time? I never expected to be the victim of a theft-from-car case.

This week, just when I was about to drive Xi En to school, he turned to me in shock that there is a hole at the back of the rear passenger seat. This is the smashed up window:

Smashed window

I was really puzzled why my car was the “chosen” one when there were so many other newer, more expensive, luxury cars in the carpark.

When I was at the police station, I told them there were signs of rummages through the items in the car boot, but nothing was lost. Cash card was there. Coins & car park coupons remained.

I left the police station with a nagging feeling that something is amiss but couldn’t pinpoint what it is.

Only when I reached home late afternoon, I realized what was wrong!! My work laptop was gone from its usual place in the study room!

This silly woman actually forgotten that she brought out the laptop and left it in the car!

Well… To save this woman some “face”, she seldom bring out the laptop & thus forgotten that it was even out of the house. And the rare occasion she brought it out to work, she (might) never see it again. I asked the police if they have ever met a person who didn’t know what was stolen. They managed a sheepish grin that made me felt worse.

And so, a second trip back to the police station ensured to lodge the report of the stolen laptop.

Besides the cost of replacing a broken window and a broken rear window wiper (thief likely used it as a tool to knock down the window), there is the cost of the laptop & the worst of all – lost data.

broken fragments of window & rear wiper

Learning from this eventful incident, here are some lessons to share.

7 tough-learnt lessons on how to prevent theft from cars / vehicles:

1) Never leave valuables in your car 

Low crime is not no crime in Singapore.

I forgot my laptop existence & thus didn’t bring it home. The first time I forgotten gave the thief the opportunity to act. So don’t ever try tempting vice by leaving valuables in the car unattended.

2) Try to park your car near police CCTVs

Most multi storey car parks are installed with police CCTVs near key entrance and exit points. Try to park your car in full view of such cameras if possible. Not the whole car park can be covered with CCTVs. My car was parked in a blind spot of such cameras.

Of course, you can’t always snag a lot near the CCTVs; and then again, the thieves might not even care having images caught. But reducing chances helped.

Police cctvs

3) Install an in-car built-in camera

The cost of installing a front and/or rear in-car camera isn’t that expensive. We procrastinated in doing so as our car is reaching its 10 years mark and we wanted to save some money and install cameras only in the next car.

I can’t say that a camera will help for sure. The thief could just whack it off & run away with it too? But possibilily it is a deterrence of sort?

4) Park in front of other cars

If you didn’t install a built-in camera, try parking near other cars; especially in front of other cars. There will be some chances that other cars might have a camera which hopefully is in recording function.

At the time of the incident, my car was parked facing a wall. There were cars next to me but only 1 car which has a camera. I left a note for the car owner to contact me, but alas his camera wasn’t recording!!

This car owner was actually a victim just like me. His rear car window was smashed in a similar fashion. It became obvious that it wasn’t a drunkard or some hooligans fighting which I initially thought so. He was luckier that nothing was missing from his car.

5) Cover your car boot

Most cars will have a pull-out cover which will enclose the boot from prying eyes. I didn’t have a habit of pulling it closed. The thief rummaged through my spare shoes and clothes left at the boot.

The other car owner told me that he had a big bag of spare stuff in the boot too. Possibly that was what caught the thief’s eyes too?

6) Back up your laptop/ iPad etc

The husband always nagged at me to ensure I backed up my laptop periodically. I always thought that there are other more important things to attend to than doing back ups.

And so a victim of my own procrastination, I lost about 1 year worth of information. Last back up was a year ago. Maybe the consolation is that I tend to horde email and is a traditional paper-filing person. Thus some of my “back ups” existed . Phew….

But learning from this, I think I will be a diligent digital back-up machine going forward!

What a rainy start to the Monkey Year! I told myself it can only get better? Or maybe the thief really needed some money? Some consolations.

Hope these will be useful to you for crime (and heartache) prevention too.

Now I need a new laptop.. And a new car maybe?

Stop gap measure

Update on1st March 2016:

Did the police catch the thief?

Yes! In fact, I found out that they caught the offender on the same night of the occurrence of the theft! What efficiency we have in our police force!

Not quite, wished that they caught up with the person before he sold my laptop to a random stranger in Geylang! Or maybe the police should have stopped the act while the theft was in action with their cameras! Ok – now I am complaining. I am just sore about my own oversight. Sad smile

Seriously, I was rather impressed with the fast actions coupled with some luck that the police had.

Understood that the perpetrator actually broke into another vehicle in another multi-storey carpark a street away. I am not sure if anything was lost though.

He is a male and a first-time offender. Thus the police didn’t find him on their records. Instead, they had a good clear picture of him caught on camera at the other carpark.

Using that photo, they found him! I am not sure how; it’s trade secret. Open-mouthed smile

But my poor laptop was probably sold within hours of the theft. It wasn’t revealed how much he got away with. But yes, he spent it all.

He will be charged in court and if found guilty, he will be sentenced. If he has any money to pay, I will be informed. If not, he will be serving jail terms in lieu.

I will get a letter to inform me of the final outcome.

That’s that.

I am glad that my laptop is password protected at the very least so that it is almost impossible to crack my password to get into my data. Probably the buyer of the stolen laptop will reformat and have a better use for it.

One last tip to leave for this incident:

7) Save copies of your laptop/mobile phones/tablets’ receipts.

The police asked if I kept a receipt which probably showed the serial number of the laptop. If I have it, it can listed as a stolen item and the police will be alerted if it is ever resold to authorised retailers. The chance is slim, but at least there is a “closure” for my laptop. But obviously, I didn’t keep the receipt as the laptop was bought some 3 to 4 years ago.

And that is another consolation; the husband bought me a new laptop earlier than scheduled. Smile

Now, I need a new car too. Smile

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