Timeline: September 29 – October 2
We took off for Oakland mid-morning, stopping in Redding to get gas and some cash from an ATM. From there it was a smooth and easy drive down I-5, I-505 and then the I-80 into the East Bay. The drive didn’t take that long, a little under four hours so we decided to stop by the REI store in Berkeley to shop for a new pair of hiking boots for Joanna, her old pair having given up the ghost during our Rogue River hike (repaired with Gorilla Glue).
First though we hit the Costco in Richmond, purchasing a 256gb USB drive, two bottles of wine and one of Makers Mark 46, a favorite of mind and a bargain at $29 instead of the $42 I usually pay at home. After gassing up the car there, we drove to the REI at the corner of San Pablo and Gilman. We wanted to park near the entrance of the store but the only spots open had a planter intruding into the stall, which would have pushed the Highlander with our bikes mounted on the rear rack, well into the aisle.
We opted to pull around to the aisle on San Pablo and park in a stall that faced the street. Walking into the store we noticed a sign outside on a lamp pole that warned of car break ins in the lot and to not leave valuables in the car. We’ve been to this store many times and having traveled extensively the last couple of years with most of our belongings in the car, we took note of it but didn’t think twice about entering to do our shopping.
It takes a bit of time to properly fit a new pair of boots and after about 45 minutes, as Joanna was making a final decision I heard an announcement over the store loudspeakers, asking “will the owner of a grey Toyota Highlander please come to the front of the store.” Like a phone call late at night after you’ve gone to bed, you know this is information that will not necessarily be pleasant. I walked quickly up to the service counter and acknowledged I was the owner and was told that my car had been smashed, or something to that effect.
I raced outside towards the car, looking for what I thought would be damage by someone running into it with their car but when I pulled around to the driver’s side, my heart sank as I saw the passenger window was smashed through and a quick inspection revealed that the large Specialized bag we use to carry all of our bike related equipment (clothing, shoes, etc.) and two day packs were missing, one of which contained my fairly new 13” MacBook Pro and iPad.
A witness had a description of the car and a partial license plate number and the Berkeley Police were contacted. They responded they were too busy to appear at the scene but would contact me later that day. The manager at REI offered to give us a one-time discount on the boots so we went ahead and completed the purchase, and then drove our damaged vehicle down to Oakland to a glass shop we’d called that confirmed they had the window in stock and could replace it that day.
We waited at the shop for nearly an hour, contacting our insurer, our banks (two check books were taken) and putting into place a plan for the next couple of days, as what we’d originally anticipated doing was now irrevocably altered. The glass shop manager came up to us to advise that the window they tried to install was not fitting correctly and they’d need to bring another one over from their warehouse the next morning. We asked if we could leave the car there overnight given that broken window made the car an easy target and they said yes, so we pulled out what we needed, contacted Lyft and a few minutes later were on our way to Kris and Jessica’s apartment.
I’d started a list of what we believed was stolen, all in all it would come to total a little over $4,000 worth of belongings but fortunately little that couldn’t be replaced. Around 6:00pm when I was contemplating that losing all of the bike gear meant we likely wouldn’t be riding our bikes for the rest of the trip, I received an email from Jeff Jerge at The Pedaler Bike Shop in El Sobrante, a community about 14 miles north of Oakland. They had some of our gear, if interested I could call them.
We called and confirmed they would be open until 7:00pm, then jumped in Jessica’s Civic and began the drive north, during East Bay rush hour, taking San Pablo nearly all the way as the I-80 was gridlocked. With traffic holding us up we called again to let them know we were running late and they advised they would wait for us, which they did. We arrived, pulled in the parking lot in back and entered the store to discover the Specialized bag and one of the day packs, torn apart with every pocket and pouch emptied and then haphazardly stuffed with clothing and gear.
We recovered our bike shoes, almost all of the bike clothing, our two checkbooks, a credit card and other miscellaneous items, a bright spot on a gloomy day. Missing were three jackets, biking accessories, and a small camera, all replaceable except for the Patagonia Shelled Synchilla which is no longer manufactured.
Upon returning to the apartment we cobbled together some food for dinner and while eating received a call from a detective at Berkeley PD. I gave him the full details on the theft and he told me the police report number which I would use to confirm the event for insurance purposes. He also revealed that the plate number didn’t match the car’s description and they had little hope that anything more would be recovered.
I got to work with an Apple application that comes with all of their devices called Find My Phone which when activated uses GPS to locate a missing device, or alert you if it has been found, or best of all, to wipe out all of the data on it if it connects to the internet. I hit the kill option on those devices that were taken and breathed a little easier knowing that chances were the thieves wouldn’t hack my laptop or iPad.
I then called Verizon to report the stolen iPad, remembering that having purchased it last year from them, it was covered by insurance. They patched me through to Asurion, the insurance carrier and after their agent gathered the necessary information, she assured me that they would overnight a replacement refurbished unit that should arrive via UPS the next morning.
Needless to say, we didn’t sleep well that night, but sleep we did which brought us to Friday morning. We waited at the apartment until the UPS delivery came with the replacement iPad, then drove back up to Berkeley to the REI to begin the process of replacing our stolen belongings. First we popped into an adjacent Chipotle to split a burrito, then entered the REI where just about every clerk either remembered us from the day before or had heard about the theft.
We finished our shopping, drove back towards Oakland stopped at Berkeley Bowl to pick up food for dinner that night, a roast chicken and then on to the glass shop to pick up the Highlander, having gotten a call earlier that it was finished. Joanna took the Civic back to the apartment while I went over to the Apple Store in Emeryville to get a new MacBook Pro. I’d special ordered the one that had been stolen, opting to increase its RAM to 16gb; Apple’s laptops now have onboard RAM fused to the motherboard so adding RAM must be done at the factory. I was concerned that the configuration that I had would not be available at the retail store and was reconciled to getting a stock model with the original 8gb.
There was a pretty long line when I arrived and it took ten minutes or so to get to my turn. When I connected with the guy who would help me, I explained my situation and after quickly checking inventory, he informed me that they had a unit that would work for me, the only minor drawback being it was the model with the best chip, slightly more expensive than what I had purchased last year. What was there to decide? Get the better model or a unit that didn’t quite meet my needs? I’ll leave it to your imagination which way I went.
I returned to the apartment and spent the evening after dinner doing what you do with new devices, configuring and fortunately for me, restoring the MacBook Pro from the back up hard drive that the thieves had ignored. By late Friday evening we were pretty much back in business technology wise and could begin to enjoy the weekend fully, looking forward as we usually do to a couple of days of fun with Jessica and Kris.
The Pedaler: http://theped.com/
Find My Phone: https://support.apple.com/explore/find-my-iphone-ipad-mac-watch