A few weeks back, my wife's brother had his car stolen from out in front of our house. To be more precise, it was a van, and it was not his primary vehicle. It was a used Honda van that was on its way to becoming the second car, the one that could be loaded up with sports equipment and kids and driven to places where kids and sporting equipment collide in events that tend to generate fun and togetherness. The van itself needed a bit of work, but was still operating in that potential capacity when it was left in front of our house for a few days before it could be fully restored and placed in its proper rotation as The Fun Family Truckster. That didn't get to happen since, as I have already mentioned, it was stolen.
Were there safeguards and measures we all could have taken to ensure that such a crime would not be perpetrated on the collective us? Sure. Probably not the least of which was leaving it parked on the street outside our house for more than a day or two. As much as I like to believe that I live in a safe and respectful corner of the planet, I am sure that putting it someplace where it could have been locked up more securely without a big tree between us would have been a better choice.
I know this because I once lost a car in Oakland. Okay, I didn't so much lose a car as it was lost for me. The mistake I made way back then was leaving a car unattended in a parking lot while my family and I went to see a movie and have dinner together. The windows were closed and the doors were locked. We carried the keys with us so that when we came back from being entertained and fed, we could drive back home. At this point in history, we were a one-car family with a son whose dreams of owning a car were just that, right behind the dream of having a driver's license and four years of high school to figure out what he wanted to do with his life. After our car was stolen, his focus shifted slightly to give his parents as much information as possible about how to purchase a new car that would fit his sensibilities better than the gold Saturn wagon that had been disappeared. That was four years ago.
Since then, we have been driving the Prius that my son still holds in mild disdain, and we have become a two car family, adding the Supra to our driveway that is my son's point of affection and attention. That's why we didn't really have room for the Honda van in our corral. The good news is that my brother-in-law got a call from the police, telling him that his vehicle had been found, not far from where it had been borrowed. My son tagged along on the recovery effort, and helped bring the now slightly more used van back to its home. Not in front of our house.
A couple weeks ago, there was a black Toyota Avalon that sat in roughly the same spot as the van had occupied. After a week and a few tickets had passed under the windshield wipers, I posted a description and license plate number on the abandoned vehicle portion of the Oakland PD website. A day later, officers were able to connect the owners to come out and reunite them with their car. Without the radio. All a part of the Circle of Life here in the East Bay.
Which gives me some mild hope that one day the phone will ring. After my son has left us a spot in the driveway. After he has driven off to college and found a safe place to park his car. We might get that phone call, more than four years late: "We found your car." I have a spot in the garage for it.