Theft and Safety

Serene Karplus, Nederland.  Last week, my wallet was stolen. But I’m a pretty lucky girl.


I was raised by a mother who didn’t trust anyone anywhere and I learned as child her little property protection tips. She taught me not to hang my purse on the hook in a bathroom stall, as someone might reach over the top and nab it. I couldn’t set a book and mittens down unattended. She never let me set anything on the floor where someone might grab it and run; even a suitcase needed to be attached to me or secured between my ankles. Proving her right last year, my brother’s flight bag with passports was stolen from the floor right next to him as he completed check-in paperwork at a small Midwestern city hotel counter.


When I moved to Colorado, I became a little more relaxed than in Chicago and its suburbs. Some ingrained habits still govern me; I still lock my house, windows, and car doors, even when I am home. Here, the bar across the sliding door is more to protect me from curious bears or blowing wind than from nasty people, but it serves well in all cases.


Still, like all of us, I make mistakes. While helping my 91-year-old Dad select some walking shoes at REI last week, I left my purse on the try-on bench while holding his hand to walk on the hard surface in front of the shoe sales area. It would have been easy to carry with me; I just forgot to grab it. So someone else did.


The store management was sympathetic and quickly retrieved videotape of the guy carrying my purse into the bathroom and a great face shot of him exiting the store two minutes later. The thief pulled all cash from various zipper compartments and five plastic cards. They say you should never carry more cash than you can afford to lose, so I typically have under $100 with me; unfortunately, that day I had an extra $100 bill I was carrying to transfer elsewhere. Still, he got less than $200 cash. Within minutes, he had run to King Soopers and Walgreens and likely purchased gift cards (all transactions ended in $.95) totaling over $1,265.


After trying unsuccessfully to get through to the banks to immediately stop all the cards, I called the police. The Boulder officer taking the theft report over the phone was not interested in identifying or catching the thief. She said it was unlikely that an officer would come by the store to see the video stills they had pulled for them and they would not seek to obtain the photos “for a crime of this kind”. I asked the DA’s office to issue the search warrant that would allow police to add the snapshots to their files, but I never heard back from them, either. The next week, I read a blurb in the Daily Camera in which Longmont police were seeking help to apprehend a wallet thief there who had taken about $2,000. Interesting difference.


The Boulder thief dumped the purse and wallet on the floor, leaving my driver’s license, RTD card, and gift cards behind. He just grabbed what he needed and escaped. I got back my personal items. I feel fortunate that I lost only some cash (the bank covers the other losses) and not my identity. I was not robbed at gunpoint, my father and I remain safe, and my life was only inconvenienced, not traumatized. It is annoying that the criminal netted more money in 20 minutes than I earn in two weeks of long hours and sleepless nights, but I am grateful to have a job and a home in a relatively safe community (bombs, crazed gunmen, and wildfires aside), rather than having to resort to crime to eat.


In last week’s little drama, I reckon I am the lucky one.




All adults are welcome at all Mountain MidLife and Nederland Area Seniors events, attended mostly by folks over age 50. Everyone is invited to all meals at the Nederland Community Center. Please call two days ahead for lunch reservations (a week ahead for dinners and breakfasts if possible) to 303-258-0799. Missed the deadline? Call anyway. Costs listed show first the over-age-60 requested anonymous contribution, then the under-age-60. Please note that all over age 60 are welcome regardless of ability to contribute financially.

Serene Karplus

About the Author: Serene Karplus – is the Executive Director of the Nederland Area Seniors, Inc. (NAS) which assists senior citizens in enhancing their quality of life, enabling them to live a life of respect and honor.  This is accomplished through the facilitation of nutrition, transportation, education, recreation, socialization and outreach programs for all seniors living in the Greater Nederland Area. Serene is a contributor to The Mountain-Ear with her Senior Scene column.