UPDATE: The car was eventually found a few kilometres away. A person in the neighbourhood rang the police when the car had stood on the verge for over a week. It had stolen plates and looked undamaged apart from the graffiti inside. All the contents were gone and it had been driven for about 1,000km. Fortunately, the insurance company had paid out our claim by then.
Today is the twentieth anniversary of the terror attack on the world trade centre in New York. I guess we all have memories of that event but the media is full of it, so I’ll talk about a less heinous crime.
We discovered our three-week-old, brand-new car had been stolen from our locked garage one morning a few weeks ago. The roller door, which had been closed the previous evening, was open and the car was gone. The thieves had found the (hidden) keys and we think pushed the car out to the end of the drive before starting it. We both had woken around 5am. Pete noticed lights on the blinds in the bedroom for a moment. I heard two car doors being closed and thought the workers at the building site over the road were early. And indeed, the theft happened at that time. Our neighbours had footage on their CCTV showing the car turning into their road and heading north.
Only the car was stolen – if you discount the case of wine and the bottle of scotch in there for our intended visit to friends at Bribie Island. Fortunately, access to the garage does not give access to the house – it’s a separate building and the pedestrian door is locked every night – and that door was still locked when I discovered the theft. The roller door was not damaged, so our thieves must have opened it with a remote control. They could have achieved that in several ways. The frequencies for roller doors are not unique; it could be done by trial and error, someone driving around at 5am, randomly testing whether roller doors would open. Seems unlikely to me. Apparently, it’s possible to buy an app for your phone that will open doors. There’s another app which will detect and copy the frequency when the door is opened. And that’s just a couple we’ve heard about. This short video highlights the problem.
There has been no further trace of the car. If it had been taken south of Gympie on the Bruce Highway, the licence plate would have been read. If it had gone on a toll way we would have been sent a bill. We (and everyone else we’ve talked to) think this was a professional job, clean and efficient. For all we know the car is in a shipping container on its way to a destination where VN numbers and such are not an issue.
For the thieves, it’s no doubt a job well done.
For us, it’s a kick in the guts.
It’s a nasty feeling, a violation of our privacy, an assault on our security. And a serious impact on our independence. If you live in the inner city, you might be able to do without a car. But in a place like Hervey Bay, it’s virtually impossible. Although we don’t have to travel long distances, we need to go shopping. We have to travel to the doctors’. We need to tow a trailer to do yard maintenance. Public transport is available but limited, and it won’t take the fallen palm fronds to the tip.
Then there’s the anger. The fury that some sleazebags think they can steal what they haven’t earned, take a slice out of our retirement – not just from the physical theft of the car but also the short holiday that fell through, the endless talks with the insurance company, locating a new car and a tide-over car.
Our neighbours were kind enough to lend us a car before the insurance company covered car hire for a week. In that time, we ordered a new vehicle. New cars are very hard to come by all over the world, mainly because there is a shortage of chips to build the clever functions. We had to wait six months for the car which was stolen, it will be nearly that long for another to arrive. In the meantime, we’ve bought a second-hand Rav 4 to tide us over.
To make life interesting, we also have the mystery of the disappearing oranges. One of our trees had quite a lot of fruit, some of which we picked and put in the stolen car. Pete left a good half-dozen on the tree. A few days after the car was stolen – the oranges disappeared. When I checked the tree, one half-ripe fruit remained. The following day it, too, was gone. It might have been possums – but they usually eat and run, leaving peels behind. Another theft? Somebody prepared to climb the fence to get into our yard? For half a dozen oranges?
From now on, the evening lock-up will include shutting off the power to the roller doors in the garage. And we’ll be fitting CCTV. I’m afraid that the days when we could leave our front doors unlocked because nobody stole are well and truly in our past. Sad, isn’t it?