12.01.2008

Broken Windows

Well, it was bound to happen at some point, but it still stinks:
sometime Saturday night or Sunday morning of Thanksgiving weekend, our
car got broken into. Apparently at least two windows on our street
were bashed in, one of them ours. The thief or thieves got away with
about $2 in change, a phone recharger, and a black pouch with our
vehicle registration, insurance card, photocopies of our passports,
and a five-dollar bill. So, in other words, they got about twenty
bucks' worth of stuff, if that.

What we got was a glass repair bill of $200+ (which I'm thankful for,
by the way; I was guessing it would be higher), a Sunday morning
headache, and a reminder that nothing is safe in this world. I am
grateful we lost so little in terms of material possessions, that the
financial cost is minimal, and that no one was harmed. I'm also
thankful that we're well off enough to have a car in the first place,
that an unexpected $200 expense won't wreck us, and that if we needed
a car in a pinch (which we don't), there's easily a good half-dozen
people we could have called in an instant and gotten help. There are
people in our own very neighborhood, let along all over the world, who
are much poorer than we are, in these regards.

Still, I'm upset at this personal encounter with the destructiveness
of crime. The fact that our change was taken but other items of value
- like our EZ Pass transponder - weren't tells me this was motivated
by the need for cash. And it was likely for drugs; I mean, when
seconds can mean the difference between getting caught and getting
away, to take the time to grab pennies and nickels out of our ashtray,
you really have to be desperate.

A lot of people often ask me if our neighborhood is safe, whether
Philadelphians inquiring about the relative status of University City
or suburban folks wondering what life in the city is like. I am quick
to tell them we feel fairly safe, that violent crime can strike
anywhere, and that policing has improved considerably in the last 15
years. But two sets of broken windows on our block this past weekend
give stark visual evidence that in our neighborhood, crime is still
alive and well.

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