TITLE: An End to My Innocence AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: July 25, 2004 3:28 PM DESC: I experience crime for the first time ----- BODY: Someone stole the stereo out of my car this morning before church -- while it was parked in our own garage. My wife and daughter had gone out earlier in the morning to deliver newspapers, and they left the garage door for our van open because we'd soon be heading out again. We live in Cedar Falls, Iowa, a small university town known for being friendly and crime-free in a state known for being friendly and crime-free. It doesn't feel that way right now. I've never been a victim of a theft and, as small as this is, it's unsettling. Fortunately, the thief (1) knew what he was doing and didn't really damage the dashboard and (2) only wanted the stereo and so didn't take anything else from the garage or car. And my wife and daughters were not bothered. So I'll count my blessings. We've always been perhaps a bit too trusting in leaving the garage door up or the side door unlocked, but that will change. I don't think it's an overreaction to start locking doors more observantly. But I wish I didn't feel that I had to. Not having been a crime victim before, I don't think I ever really got it when other crime victims spoke of feeling "violated". I read that phrase in the newspaper almost daily and was unmoved. Sometimes, in my mind, I probably wondered if those folks weren't just a little too sensitive, maybe even whiners. I've learned the lesson now. As I noted above, the crime I've experienced is relatively tame and wholly impersonal. It compares not at all to many other crimes against one's person. I will be more compassionate in my response to other's misfortunes from now on. On a less emotional note, this theft has reminded just how dependent we are now on electonics. In removing my stereo, the thief disabled some part of my Taurus's electronic system, resetting a little computer somewhere. As a result, the speedometer doesn't work and I have no way to control the fans or air conditioner. Man, it gets hot in a car fast, even in Iowa! Let's roll the windows down then-- wait, we can't do that either. They have only electronic controls. And then, when I get home, I go to lock the car doors with the automatic switch on my keychain, but it doesn't work either. Sigh. At least I can lock and unlock the doors manually. I'll be careful to lock them wherever I go now. -----