Thursday, September 3, 2009

Grand Theft Auto, day 0

Here's my first post of several about my experiences having my car stolen.
Sunday, 9 August 2009

Jason and I arrived at the parking garage from the pier after our weekend vacation to Victoria, British Columbia somewhere around 9:30 pm.  The garage had special pricing for passengers aboard the Victoria Clipper, so for Saturday and Sunday it was going to be only $20 instead of $36.  We went up the stairs with our bags, and noticed that the garage was rather empty.  They were closing in an hour or so, and all but one of the entrances were already locked down, so it wasn't very surprising.  We got to the spot where I had parked, and my car wasn't there.  We checked the length of that side of the garage and didn't see it.  Oh, it must be on the floor above, I thought, so we went up one more floor.  That floor was almost entirely empty, and you could immediately see that the car wasn't there either.  Hmm.

This was, of course, unsettling.  I thought that they must have towed my car.  I couldn't imagine why; I'd been very careful to follow all of the directions since I was parking overnight, and since it was going to be almost double the special rate if I didn't have proof that I was a ship passenger.  We kept looking, checking that whole side of the garage on every floor.  Still no car.  By the end of the night we had checked every little section of the garage, even in places that I was 100% certain I didn't park, and we probably checked the area where I expected my car to be half a dozen times or more.  After a good half an hour or more of searching, I called the towing company posted.  It was hard to hear the other person since trains kept going by, but eventually I confirmed that they did not tow my car—they hadn't towed any cars from that lot or any Civics anywhere recently.  They said that I should call 911 and ask for a non-emergency operator.

I was a little hesitant to call 911 since I still assumed at that point that the car had been improperly towed, not stolen, but that's what they told me to do so I did, and after saying it was a non-emergency they transferred me to a different operator.  She checked the Seattle towing records and confirmed that nobody had towed my car, also checking under various different permutations of my license plate and the information I gave her.  Let no one state that we did not do our due diligence.  She asked if I'd like to fill out a police report, so I begrudgingly accepted, and went through her long list of questions, questions that would soon become rather familiar to me.  She said she'd send an officer to the Bell Street Pier garage at 2323 Elliott, and asked where I'd meet the officers.  I said that I could meet them at the lowest-level entrance.

That was probably a bad idea, but I had no way of knowing seeing as I didn't exactly have a city or garage map in front of me.  That entrance was not, it turned out, the main entrance.  Jason and I waited about 45 minutes for the officers to show up.  At this point it's nearly midnight, and we're wandering back and forth, wondering if the officers are going to show up at the entrance that the 911 operator said they would, or the one at 2323 Elliott, which was two blocks away.  So, we switched entrances from time to time.  Of course, we finally saw them at the far-off entrance as we were approaching it from a block away, and they passed right by the entrance, not seeing anyone standing there.  I flailed my arms wildly at them but they didn't see me, and went on.  I continued running to that entrance, and Jason ran on, seeing if he could spot them.  Luckily, they looped around for one last check, and I was able to flag them down with their headlights pointed directly at me.

They asked me questions to verify that I was the person to file the report and that Jason was the other witness.  Then one of the officers had a few report forms for me to fill out, and offered to give me a seat in the police car.  At least I can now say that I've been in the back of a police car, but I'd really rather not have to again.  It's about as cramped and uncomfortable as possible, nothing like how it looks in TV and movies.

After filling out the forms he proceeded to ask me a series of questions, warning me in advance that several of the questions were rather silly.  Among many other things, they asked me if I had recently been through a breakup or had recently started seeing someone new, if I knew where all of the keys to the car were, if I'm absolutely certain that I actually drove the car and parked it there, if I had Lojack, and so on.  They're the same questions that the 911 operator asked, and the same ones that Progressive asked me twice.  When it was all over, I got a business card with an incident number, and an admission that the rate of finding stolen cars is fairly low though not unheard of, and that Civics were one of the cars I was least likely to ever see again.  They'd investigate my case, and call me if they ever found anything.  (Spoiler: they never found anything.)

At that point it was midnight and Jason had needed to go to the bathroom for quite some time, so we walked to the nearby Edgewater Hotel and used theirs, and called for a cab.  The cab ride back to my house cost $40.

When I got home, I reported the event to Progressive.  They had a handy online form for me to fill out that asked me all of those same sorts of questions, questions that they would ask me again the next morning over the phone.

All the way through Saturday evening I had been having a great time, relaxed and happy from being on vacation.  But upon finding my car missing all of that instantly ended.  I've become pretty good at keeping control of my emotions, and I didn't lose my cool, but Jason could tell by the time of the 911 call that I was pretty defeated.  My face was pretty blank for the rest of the night.  I felt very, very tired.

But at least I was insured.  The insurance company would take care of me...

No comments: