Carjacking: the taking of an occupied automobile by force.
My van was carjacked two weeks ago. With my elderly mother and little dog inside.
I’m not writing this for the purpose of getting a lot of comments with sympathy and outrage and support, although those are great. I’m writing this because I now share the cops’ paranoid attitude/belief that YOU ARE NOT REALLY SAFE AS YOU THINK and YOU’D BETTER STAY ALERT AND KNOW WHAT TO DO IN THE WORST CASE. I also need to tell people why I’ve virtually disappeared from the ‘net and haven’t answered many phone calls for the last couple of weeks; all that I’ve had to deal with and take care of because of this event has really taken ALL of my time. The house looks even more like a pigsty nowadays.
I’ll ruin the suspense that fiction is supposed to have because this is more of a personal letter to friends, colleagues, and acquaintances, and I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea. Yes, the van is gone (*has been recovered now–more on this later*), but I didn’t lose my mother or my dog, which is all that really matters. My mother has a significant “torn” granulating wound all down her upper left arm, and has a few bruises, and has a case of PTSD at some level. But she’s here, and the Pom is unhurt. This is a miracle.
How did it happen? In Plano, Texas, just today named “the safest suburb in the USA” *irony alert*?
I would never have left them in the van with the motor and A/C running had I imagined that nearby there was a crazed junkie escaping from a halfway house . . . or that the locked doors could be defeated with a simple click. But my mother (aged 80) always demands to be taken on any errand that I run, and typically she brings our little Pom along. He sits in his dog bed on the console of my 2004 Ford Freestar minivan. (We have some pillows and cardboard rigged up so the bed stays put.) He loves going for rides with us.
And we had just made the circuit: the pharmacy for her prescriptions, the gas station to fill up, Kroger for some frozen food, Luby’s for an old-lady meal, and now the Jack-in-the-Box restaurant parking lot at Parker Road and US75. It’s in a strip shopping center in a safe neighborhood. All I needed was to pick up a burger and fries for hubby, and we’d be on our way home. The next day Hubby and I were headed to the State Fair of Texas, so I had been sure to get my mother and my dog everything they’d need while we were off for a few hours.
At 6 PM on Monday–now about two weeks ago, October 4th–with rush hour going on and people going in and out of the surrounding stores, I found myself unable to get into the drive-through of JitB, so I parked a little ways away in a parking space so I could run inside. I had *always* parked to go inside various stores and lock the doors so they can wait in the van and people-watch. Never a problem in Dallas, Houston, Richardson, Sherman, and rural Oklahoma.
While this was happening, I had no idea.
Perhaps a numbered timeline would work better.
1) I jump out of the van, lock the doors using the keyless entry keypad on the door (not the keychain–this is important later), and head about 300 feet across the parking lot into the restaurant. I glanc back to see my mom tuning the radio to one of her talk shows, even though my iPod video 60 is plugged into the sound system because we’ve been listening to podcasts of “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” from PBS. My cell phone is also plugged into the van charging, but I think nothing of that, as I don’t bother to take my purse, just a $10 bill. Teddy sits happily in his dog bed on the console between our bucket seats, as always, and her cell phone is in the door pocket, and she has a Luby’s meal in a sack at her feet next to her purse. (It was beef tips and rice for me, and a chocolate pie for her, as she had low blood sugar even before all this happened.) It’s a still-light 6 PM in a safe area of Plano, and lots of people are on Parker Road and in the parking lot, because it’s still rush hour. What can possibly go wrong?!?!
2) I give the order at the counter and fill a Styrofoam cup with diet Coke. No large tops anywhere. I go back and stand at the counter. Oddly, I am their ONLY lobby customer. The clerk who took my order is back doing something and I am waiting with an uncovered coke. I hear someone come in the side door and I think I hear something like . . . my name?
3) I turn. A Hispanic woman about my height with spiral-curly hair is looking at me VERY panicked and worried. At first I think it is someone i must know or have worked with and she’s got a flat tire or some kind of crisis. She says, “Is your mother wearing a white t-shirt and has a red dog?”
This can not be good