To catch a thief
I hate a thief. Nothing gets under my skin more than someone taking something that they didn’t have to put in time, effort and money to purchase themselves.
During my lunch break on Saturday (weekends are just another workday in my line of work), I stopped by Andy’s at Ahoskie Commons Shopping Center to place a “to-go” order. I was craving one of their famous cheeseburger specials, topped with mustard and chili.
My order was fixed promptly; I paid the cashier and made my way back out to the parking lot in less than five minutes. As I approached my pick up truck, I happened to glance down at my license plate. I stopped dead in my tracks. The “year” sticker on the upper right hand corner displayed 07. The “month” sticker (in the upper left-hand corner) was correct (NC 5), even down to its faded color.
For a fleeting second my initial thought was…this isn’t my truck, it has an 07 sticker. Reality quickly set in as it was a white Ford Ranger and parked in the very spot where I left it. Even the vehicle to my right was the same one – a Chevy Tahoe, red in color – as when I parked.
I closely inspected the 07 sticker and immediately noticed a heavy scratch mark running vertically down the center. It appeared some sort of flat device, perhaps a knife, was used to pry underneath the series of stickers placed there each year when I renew my tags.
After returning to the office and eating lunch, I called the Ahoskie Police to report the theft. The officer first ran my plate through NC DMV to verify they were active and up to date, which they were (I got a new sticker in early June of this year….it expires June 15, 2013, which also means my vehicle insurance and annual inspection are valid: other necessary items I have to purchase annually). He took my info and said a report would be ready for me to pick-up on Monday.
Okay…so what do I do from here? The officer said since my license plate was up to date, I was not in violation of operating my truck, even if the sticker showed 07 instead of 13. Having a police report to prove that I immediately reported the theft would verify that I wasn’t oblivious to the fact that the sticker wasn’t up to date.
I went online to NC DMV to check for a policy dealing with lost or stolen plates/stickers. I can indeed apply for a new sticker, but it will cost me the normal fee ($28) as if I was performing an annual renewal.
So, let me see if I can get this straight. I can choose to shell out 28 bucks, a fee I’ve already paid for the year, because some low life decided that due to their inability to legally score a valid sticker for their vehicle they opted to steal mine. Or, since my plates are valid despite the sticker issue, I can wait until June of next year for my annual renewal. The latter does come with a problem – that of law enforcement officers doing their job by stopping me due to the out-of-date sticker. That wastes their time and mine.
While all of this bothers me, what’s more concerning is where did the theft take place? Was it here in the News-Herald parking lot; while I was out covering a news event; or, even more alarming, while my truck was parked at my home?
That latter scenario is frightening. What if I or my wife walked outside while the crime was occurring? Would the thief (or thieves) become startled and run away, or would they choose to become confrontational? That scenario could turn ugly…..something nobody wants to occur, but a man has to do what he has to do to protect his property.
Do you catch my drift?
Cal Bryant is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-332-7207.