A thievery update

In the comments section of the last post, Kyle asked whether this was an April Fool's Joke - I wish, buddy. We just keep realizing more and more things that are gone - my keys must have been in my new green bag, so my student ID and bus pass are both gone too; our bus tickets for the return trip from Chicago to Madison were in Missy's bag, so I suppose we'll have to buy new full-price ones (no student discount without a student ID) at the airport there; and Missy's reading glasses were in her bag.

When we called all the credit cards to cancel them, everyone reported multiple charges to gas stations in the small town closest to the hiking trail. Matt says what these thieves generally do is tell people pulling in to fill up their cars, but pay the theif a lower amount of cash. I was really surprised that anyone would agree to that - isn't it pretty obvious that something really shady is going on? - but Gretchen says that area is so poor that needing gas sometimes overcomes ethics.

In fact, at one 7-11, Matt and Gretchen had that theory confirmed. Unlike the cashiers that had no interest in helping us ("No, I'm not looking through the receipts - and what would it even matter if we found one with your name on it?"), they found a station that no only found four receipts with Missy's name, but showed them the security video of the pumps. A crazy-haired blonde in very short shorts was buying gas for multiple vehicles and turning our credit cards into cash that way. Apparently Matt and Gretchen had missed her by less than two minutes.

We managed to file a police report yesterday - we decided it was less likely they'd tell us not to bother them in person, so we stopped at the station nearest to Matt and Gretchen's apartment. I don't expect anything to come from filing the report, but we'll need it in order to dispute the gas charges and the $754.19 charge to a pre-paid cellular place with our credit card companies. Fortunately, we convinced the hotel to run our bill through, including the nights we haven't actually stayed for yet, before we cancelled that card.

We can get through the rest of the vacation with the money in our checking account, but we're crushed that we won't be able to go on a helicopter ride through the mountains like we'd planned. Before we left, Missy's coworkers told her to do that even if it meant skipping other things - that we absolutely, positively wouldn't regret it, even if it was a super-expensive 60 minutes of fun. We decided to save it for our last day on the island, so we'd have something amazing to look forward to and wouldn't feel sad about leaving in the days leading up to Sunday.

Honestly, and someone who has actually been mugged can certainly tell me I'm wrong here - I think I'd feel better if we'd been mugged. The worst part of this is that 30 more seconds of locking things away before we'd left the Jeep to go hiking would have prevented all of it - literally, 30 seconds. We could have locked everything away in the trunk - we could have taken it with us - we could have put it all in Matt and Gretchen's pickup. We were so, so careful when we went snorkeling at Hanauma Bay on Thursday - when we got breakfast, we sat where we could see the Jeep the whole time, and when we got to the bay, we made sure there weren't even stray napkins in the cab. How did we get so stupid and so trusting just 24 hours later?

I'm sleeping by reminding myself how much worse it could have been - at least I had my wallet with me, and at least we weren't out snorkeling with our wedding rings along with everything else in the Jeep, and at least they didn't take or damage the Jeep. Matt says he knows people that have had their windows smashed to get a purse or a couple dollars cash, and other people that have had their tires slashed for no reason after a break-in.

We're still in surprisingly high spirits, and I don't think we're going to let it ruin the next two days of our trip. I think I'll even post some pictures from yesterday as soon as we get back from returning the Jeep and eating breakfast. We took pictures with waterproof disposable cameras as Hanauma Bay, and I'm really excited to see whether they turned out and to show them to you if they did.

HEY BIG UPDATE - Missy just found my keys my student ID, my city bus pass, and our bus tickets from Chicago to Madison buried in one of our drawers!! Hooray for small victories!


Sophist said...

It's so sad that there is that implicit agreement between merchants and thieves in the area. UGH!!!! HOW FRUSTRATING!!!!!! I'm sorry it has turned into such a fiasco. Hopefully the credit card company will accept liability for the thieves' charges without too much awfulness.

Spice said...

That gas-buying scheme is sketchtastic! I can only imagine what types of crime the Honolulu police are dealing with if they can't find the time to crack down on such a widespread, well-known and easy to spot type of crime.

I'm sure Po will have something to say once she reads all of this... If you haven't seen an ID photo of someone who's at the DMV for her third time after being robbed within one year, you haven't seen true anger and frustration conveyed on film.

OleNelson said...

Ouch. I just now realized that you've been updating from Hawai'i (or whereever that apostrophe goes), and the first thing I discover is thievery. Boo!

I Blog, You Blog said...

I've had my identity stolen twice now...the first time, they got the number to the checking account/debit card and used it (even though we had our cards--thank god it was a small town where everyone knew me)...and the second time, they tried to buy very expensive cell phones.

It's frustrating and way more hassle than anyone should have to go through. My only recommendation is to keep good records of who you talk to and when and don't ever throw them away.

The cell phone fiasco went into collections status 3 years later even though we'd returned the phones and put a fraud alert on the account. Seems the company changed software and in the conversion all of the fraud alerts got lost. We only found out when we couldnt refinance the house because my credit scores had plummeted...

This too shall pass...don't let it ruin an otherwise amazing vacation...which it looks like you guys are having!!! :)

towwas said...

God, what a pain in the ass. Kinda makes you want to revert to cash.

elf said...

That's HORRIBLE!!! And incredibly frustrating... I'm heart-broken over the helicopter ride.

J.Po said...

Having been robbed through mugging and non-mugging, I say mugging is worse. Having mental imprints of a knife near my belly is worse than having shit stollen anonomously. But then, that's just me. For a breakdown of my experience, see my post in julij 2004 "What THEY do in MY Neighborhood". In months following, you can find various posts on follow-up theft. Sheesh.

J.Po said...

And yes, I am PISSED in my ID photo. PISSED! Like ... mug-shot-pissed. Perhaps I'll blog it soon.