Theft Update

I have more details on the theft I experienced a few weeks ago.

I didn’t talk about this previously because I didn’t want to possibly tip off the perp, although I doubt he knows much about the internet. Now that the SMU Police Department has discussed the case with the SMU Daily Campus, I can talk more freely.

Like I previously mentioned, I knew the perp used my credit card at a place called “CityPlace Market.” That’s all my bank was able to tell me the evening of the theft. The CityPlace shopping center is about 3 miles south of SMU, and it has several stores. The next day, I checked my online credit card statement and the statement clearly indicated that the perp went to the Target store at CityPlace. (HUH? Why couldn’t they look up the information that evening?)

I called the CityPlace Target and spoke with the security department. They were glad to hear from me. They got superb videos and photos of the guy, and they also got his license plate.

The SMU police department found where the vehicle was registered, and they found that it is not stolen. So they had a solid lead on the guy.

The PD staked out this guy’s residence. They did not see the vehicle or the guy at the house. After a few days, the PD eventually talked to a resident and found that the vehicle owner is not the perp. The vehicle owner knew the guy and provided a photograph.

The police department is very adamant about tracking this guy down. They are almost certain he committed crimes against at least two people the day of the theft, although it may be up to five. Based on what he did to me alone, he could be charged with class B misdemeanor theft ($50-$500), felony burglary (does this mean 3rd degree felony?), and two counts of felony credit card abuse. Depending on what my bank does, this guy could end up with more felony charges. Since the guy already has a criminal history and is on probation (per a reporter from the SMU Daily Campus), this cannot be a happy day for him.

Stolen: Wallet, Wedding Ring, and Pocket Knife

Today, while working out at the new SMU gym, my locker was opened, and my wallet, wedding ring, and pocket knife were stolen. Fortunately, since I use my PDA while working out, I still have my PDA.

I know for sure that at least one other person’s stuff was stolen.

My lock was a classic Master Lock Combination Padlock. It had a pink dial. Back when we lived in Groves (late ’80s), we picked it up at a grocery store on the way to the Port Arthur YMCA one night. (A family member worked there briefly, and we had a membership during that time.) When I came back to my locker after the workout, the lock was gone.

Fortunately, a cop was already at the gym taking the other guy’s report, so I was able to quickly make a report. The cop thinks a thief may have entered with a bolt cutter, although I wonder if the thief had a shim? These Master Lock combination locks are surprisingly easy to open. I will never use that trash again.

The ring was sitting in the locker, but my wallet and knife were in pants pockets. The thief was nice enough to zip my backpack shut when he was done. How courteous!

My wallet had about $80 cash, my credit cards, my driver’s license, my SMU ID, and other less important things.

I first called MBNA to cancel my MasterCard. After waiting on hold for 13½ minutes and reaching nobody, I hung up and called my bank and other card issuers. That was tragic for MBNA. Had MBNA not been negligent and actually had enough operators or an expedited path for fraud alerts, then $2,500 of fraudulent purchases could have been avoided. Yup, you got it, about 30 minutes after I hung up with MBNA, someone made three fraudulent purchases totaling around $2,500 at stores in the CityPlace Market, a shopping center with a Target and some other stores. I’m sure the merchant is going to eat the cost of these purchases, though, because merchants are supposed to verify that buyers are who they really are. (When is the last time a merchant has asked to see your driver’s license when you made a purchase?) My wife was finally able to get through to MBNA as the third fraudulent transaction was being placed. The other credit card companies and my bank immediately answered my call.

I am now questioning why I have an MBNA account. MBNA once fined me because I paid a balance too early (yes, literally, I was fined for paying too early–I made them credit me that fine), another time they fined me because their web site screwed up my payment (they credited me that one, too). Their web site is awful, and they don’t directly integrate with Microsoft Money (i.e., they haven’t bothered to allow Money to automatically download transactions). Now, their inept customer service department is causing a hassle. Because of the size of the fraud, I am now having to sign an affidavit that the transactions were truly fraudulent. Why should I bother with such a crappy company? http://www.mbnasucks.org/

Shame on you, MBNA!

The good thing is this is apparently random crime, and it is all replaceable stuff. Well, I cannot get my original wedding band back unless it is sold to a pawn shop.

The cop said that he was not aware of a history of crime problems at the gym. In all likelihood, the thief was taking advantage of the fact that the gym just opened on Sept. 26.

You know what’s strange? SMU is supposed to be one of the safest places in the Dallas area. Despite this, this is the second time something has been stolen from me at SMU. Back in 1999 or 2000, a Sony Walkman was stolen from my desk. Somehow, I managed to get through my undergrad years without any losses.

That’s Not Transmission Fluid!

As we were walking across the parking lot to church this Sunday, I saw a pool of red fluid on the ground. At first glance I thought it was automatic transmission fluid. It was wet and decently fresh. On closer inspection, I saw that it was too thin to be ATF, and it was blackening in the center, as if it was changing color. It sort of looked like a pool of blood. I didn’t see any other signs of an altercation, so I didn’t suspect anything.

After church, walking back to our car, the pool looked the same. About 1 foot wide, mostly circular, red, with blackening in the center.

Fast forward to Monday. As I was driving home, I heard the local NPR affiliate talk about a guy who was beaten to death in a downtown Dallas parking lot. Was this the pool of blood?

Tonight I get the full scoop: that was it. It turns out a recent high school graduate came to Dallas from Natchez, MS and was beaten to death in an unprovoked fight in downtown Dallas.

Ugh.

My crime fighting for the day

This morning, as I was backing out of my driveway, I saw an aqua blue, four-door 1995 Chevrolet Cavalier with very dark tint race off from the trailer of the mowers who were mowing a neighbor’s lawn. The Cavalier raced off quickly, and the mowers’ expressions showed that something wrong just happened.

I was able to catch up to the criminal at the traffic signal leaving my neighborhood. I got his license number. The guy may have wanted to go south, but I think he noticed I was recording his license number, so he instead darted north, almost causing a rear end collision as he raced into traffic. I didn’t try to keep up with him because he was driving erratically, obviously fleeing.

I reported this to 911 within minutes as a suspicious activity call, and I also called the owner of the mowing company. He confirmed that $400 of equipment was just stolen.

I hope that since I reported the license plate number, something good may result from this.

I was able to get more of the car’s details through www.publicdata.com. It can be a good idea to purchase searches from this site!

EDIT: I called the lawn mowing company owner a few days later. He said that the police were not able to do anything because nobody got a good visual description of the thief.