How to deal with post-robbery anxiety?
April 30, 2008 11:59 AM   Subscribe

Broken car window, stolen iPod. Yep, I'm a careless idiot. Looking for info on renter's insurance (too little, too late?), potential new generations of iPods, dealing with emotional anxiety after being robbed.

My car was broken into on the street right in front of my house Monday night. I woke up to a smashed-in window, missing iPod, and a rough-cut bunch of wires from where my stereo cord was connected. This is the first time in my life I've been robbed, and I'm feeling pretty violated and shaken up. Clearly, it's my fault for leaving the iPod in my car. No guilt trips necessary. I usually bring it in, and usually park my car in the (locked, gated) driveway anyway, but some recent yardwork projects made the driveway unusable and I've been street-parking for a few days. I don't have renter's insurance, but I've now realized I probably need it and am looking around for quotes. I'm in southern California. Does anyone have any good recommendations or positive reviews of companies offering this? I'd like as cheap as possible, covering probably not more than $20k worth of stuff, but with a low deductible. My auto insurance is through Wawanesa and I'm pretty happy with them, so I'm not looking for a package deal.

Also, does anyone have any tips for retrieving a stolen ipod? Obviously a long shot. I had the 160gb, and although I'd like to replace it at some point, I have an iPhone I'll use in the meantime. When will Apple be releasing new iPods? Does anyone think they'll have one bigger than 160gb sometime in the next year?

The other problem is, I'm feeling unsafe and nervous in my neighborhood now. I've never really felt wary or unsafe before in my life, and I've lived alone many times and traveled on many continents alone. I'm in my early 20s and live alone with my dog in an admittedly sketchy, very ethnic neighborhood, and I've recently been informed its one of the highest crime areas in town. Moving isn't an option right now due to financial constraints. Tips for securing my stuff and/or getting over my newfound paranoia?
posted by booknerd to Grab Bag (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
In the future, get a stereo that has a removable faceplate. Take it inside with you wherever you go. I have one and it comes in a hard case to protect it. If you must leave any type of valuable in your car, ever, put it in the trunk or in the back of the car with a dark-colored towel draped over it.

I had my car broken into once a week for something like 3 months one year in a rental house. Bastards would do it while I was in the house, in the shower. I know what you're going through and I'm sorry!

No matter where you get renter's insurance, it'll be about $15 or so, which is well worth it.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 12:06 PM on April 30, 2008

We just moved from a dodgy neighborhood...nothing bad happened to us thankfully, but there were gunfights and drug busts and general stupidity galore. I think the main thing is to be aware of your surroundings. Avoid wandering around in the middle of the night aimlessly in your bathrobe.

Talk to your neighbors when you get a chance, just make small talk. Chances are most of them are just as annoyed/frustrated/scared as you are. It only takes a few morons to turn what could be a decent neighborhood into a craphole.

If you are so inclined, you could get involved. Our last neighborhood had a Police Crime-Alerts email list, activities for the community, etc.

If its a REALLY bad neighborhood, get out when you can, and just stay calm and alert and safe in the meantime.
posted by ian1977 at 12:12 PM on April 30, 2008

You say you aren't looking for a package deal but when I was a renter I was able to get insured through my car insurance, State Farm, at about $20 a month, added to my policy bill.

As for anxiety, I had severe anxiety after an accident, and I'm afraid the only answer is time.
posted by Brittanie at 12:14 PM on April 30, 2008

If it makes you feel any better, I lived in and around downtown LA for four years, had to park on the street every night, and was never robbed. After school, I moved to the beautiful and upscale neighborhood of Toluca Lake, and my car was promptly robbed... not once, but FOUR times. In a gated, locked garage. And my car has an alarm. And my girlfriend's car was robbed too.

So, if nothing else -- understand it's not necessarily your "ethnic" neighborhood, and is more likely your proximity to getaway routes (Toluca Lake is as white as it gets, but is adjacent to several freeways).

As far as protecting yourself: leave nothing that even could be construed as having value in the vehicle, or at least in sight. The trunk is your friend. Potential robbers want to see the payoff before they take the risk of breaking in. Simply make it not worth thier time, and eventually move somewhere they don't break into your car everytime you leave a CD book on the chair.
posted by rooftop secrets at 12:19 PM on April 30, 2008

I feel for you, it's happened to me a few times. Renter's insurance is definitely worthwhile , but keep in mind that the lower your deductible the more expensive your rate will be. So, while it's nice to have, it may not cover a $200 ipod, and it won't cover your broken car window either.

The best you can do is just not to leave anything in the car, ever. Some people I know open the glove box, empty the change tray and leave the doors unlocked to minimize the possibility that their window will get broken for nothing. Teenagers may want your stereo, but junkies want anything that can be sold.
posted by electroboy at 12:20 PM on April 30, 2008

This just happened to me as well! I live in Los Feliz in a very safe neighborhood. I came outside on Friday morning to find my passenger side window smashed with my ipod stolen. However, that's ALL they took. I just called up a glass company to get my window fixed, then drove to the Mac store and bought a new ipod. I wouldn't recommend contacting your insurance company. I can give you the number the company that I used to replace the window (if you haven't already). They came to my house, vacuumed the glass, were cheap and totally nice.
In all honesty, I believe with the economy going to shit right now and being tax season, people are desperate for money.
posted by thesiameseffect at 12:38 PM on April 30, 2008

The main reason to get a package deal is that you usually get a percentage off both policies. For Allstate, I think it was a 20% multi-policy discount. That was $100 off of my auto, which almost paid for the renter's premium.
posted by smackfu at 12:39 PM on April 30, 2008

booknerd: This is the first time in my life I've been robbed, and I'm feeling pretty violated and shaken up. Clearly, it's my fault for leaving the iPod in my car. No guilt trips necessary.

This isn't precisely an answer to your question, and I don't have any specific points for you, but I thought it should be said:

No. No, it's not your fault. It is not your fault that some jerk broke into your car, and while it's a good idea to try to avoid thieves, it's not your fault for incorrectly expecting that people wouldn't break into your car and steal your ipod. So don't beat yourself up about it; I know that, the times that I've been robbed, the feeling of vulnerability can make me want to be pretty pissed at myself for not doing whatever tiny thing might have prevented the robbery. It took someone pointing out that every one of us does hundreds of these 'tiny things' - leaving an ipod in a car, not locking the front door when running around the corner to get some milk, saying our bank account number and password out loud to the teller so that everyone can hear, et cetera ad nauseum - each and every single day. We do them because, as St. Thomas Aquinas pointed out, even existing at all as a human being requires faith, and existing in society requires a steady stream of it. We'd all go utterly insane if we didn't trust others in society to keep our own benefit in mind. Or, to put it differently, we wouldn't have a society. So: you don't need to feel any guilt for reflexively trusting people to avoid breaking into your car and stealing your ipod.

Like you said: no guilt trips necessary.
posted by Viomeda at 12:40 PM on April 30, 2008 [6 favorites]

I've had a two cars broken in to, and been pickpocketed as well.

The first car burglary they got a checkbook I didn't even realize was in the vehicle until I got overdraft notices from my bank. Thankfully, the other two incidents didn't end with loss of anything that could be used to steal my identity(car stereo from the car, and an Archos 30GB video/music player from my pocket).

It sucks, but there are two things you can do:

First, become more aware. As others have suggested, make sure nothing that would interest a passerby is visible. Preferably, don't have it hidden, either. Keep your car emptied of everything you can.

Second, look at the bright side. This is harder, especially given that it pretty much just happened. Remind yourself that you've still got your roof, vehicle(despite necessary repairs), and your health. They didn't take your wallet/id/etc. When my player got stolen, I took a sick comfort from the fact that the data/charge cable for it uses a proprietary connection, can't just be bought in any random retail store, and tend to even be sold out on the manufacturer site, so the player would be useless once the current charge was out. Also, I convinced myself that whoever got it probably had no interest in the content that I had on there. This specific example doesn't really fit your situation, since iPod cables can be had easily, but maybe there's something else about what happened to you that you can find a silver lining on.
posted by owtytrof at 12:46 PM on April 30, 2008

I disagree with thesiameseeffect. Maybe your auto insurance won't cover the window replacement, and maybe even if it does, it'll cost more in the long run than if you took care of it yourself, but at least check with your agent, even if you decide after doing so not to file a claim.
posted by EatenByAGrue at 12:52 PM on April 30, 2008

That should simply say "I've had two cars...", not "I've had a two cars...", but I think you know that.

Really, I wanted to 2nd Viomeda. It's not your fault that someone else has no respect for your private property.
posted by owtytrof at 12:52 PM on April 30, 2008

Some people I know open the glove box, empty the change tray and leave the doors unlocked to minimize the possibility that their window will get broken for nothing.

A car in my neighborhood has a sign inside the window listing all the things the car does not contain- "No iPod, No Stereo, No Phone," etc.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:58 PM on April 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

This very same thing happened to me a few weeks ago, although my lock got popped rather than my window broken. Lost my little Nano.

It helped me to remember that while it sucked, I was still perfectly fine. No one got hurt. My car and my iPod are just things. If somebody hurts those things, they don't necessarily mean to hurt me.

I don't know that the person who robbed me did it for any other reason than they needed money and didn't know how else to get it. Maybe drugs, maybe just bad luck. I don't know. But I don't think it helps to get vengeance, or that when somebody hurts you, that it would make it better to find out their life is totally fucked. It helps to think that occasionally people do bad things. Maybe tomorrow they'll do good things. Life is too complicated to think that everyone always means to hurt you.

So anyway, this avowed atheist recommends a good dose of Christian forgiveness.
posted by dosterm at 12:59 PM on April 30, 2008

As rooftop secrets said, it's not the "ethnicity" that's the problem here. Thieves are thieves. The biggest ones are often in office and get your property and money without you even really comprehending it.

I had the window of a crappy 2-door ford broken out and my tapes stolen years ago. That's right, tapes. They broke my window to steal my tapes - didn't take my crappy ass stereo, just my hip hop. But hey, maybe they got some taste in music as a result.

Just look at it that way. It was probably a crime of opportunity. They are like everybody else, trying to get money, and I doubt they personally targeted you. You gotta get over the "ethnic neighborhood" thing, dude. I know how you feel, because after I got my tapes stolen, I looked at every guy walking down the street my car was on like they were the potential crook.

But time passes and you realize it was a possession, and your car got broken into. Be glad you can afford an Iphone and a 160 gig ipod in the first place. I was wishfully slummin around the newly reduced $39 refurbs earlier today, and I rock a 1st generation shuffle.

Yeah your car got jacked - embrace it, learn from it, but after you get over the freaking out that happens, move on and don't be one of those "ethnic neighborhood, omg" folks. You'll probably take a look at this post in a few months and laugh.
posted by cashman at 1:01 PM on April 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

this sucks, and i'm sorry it happened to you.

as others have said, it will take time not to feel nervous in your home/neighborhood. when our apartment got broken into, it took me about a year to feel comfortable sleeping there alone.

our renter's insurance is $120 a year for some ridiculous amount of coverage. i think it's a deal. but, if i had a car, it would not have covered the theft of an item from said car. nor would i have bothered with a claim for anything less than like $200.

anyway. definitely look into renter's insurance just because it's a good thing to have. keep your wits around you when you're out and about and sleep with the lights on for a couple days if it makes you feel better.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 1:09 PM on April 30, 2008

When I rented, I was happy with Travelers Insurance. You can get very very sufficient coverage for less than $20/month as a single person.

And agreeing with everyone else to not beat yourself up about the unsafeness of the neighborhood. Remind yourself of the things you like about your neighborhood and your current digs. Remind yourself that petty crime is incredibly common everywhere, and at least nothing irreplaceable was taken.

People best deal with this sort of stress in different ways. For me, the best thing is to push the anxiety and worst-case-scenarios out of my head and focus hard on getting something accomplished -- reorganizing or cleaning or the like.
posted by desuetude at 1:14 PM on April 30, 2008

When I was looking for renter's insurance, I was surprised that the lowest coverage amounts are in the $30k range. And that covers almost anything except jewelry and possibly fur coats... there's a specific list of things that you need to add extra coverage for that they ask about.
posted by smackfu at 1:22 PM on April 30, 2008

I don't know if this is any peace of mind for you --- but seriously, cars get broken into anywhere. It doesn't mean that your street isn't safe or that you should fear for your life. The only time my car was ever broken into was when I was in high school, right in front of my parents house in a cul-de-sac in a well-off suburban neighborhood. When I went to college and started parking my car on the street in a relatively sketchy part of town, my car never got broken into.

The point is that shit happens, and there are always assholes out there who are going to try & steal your shit if there's an opportunity, it doesn't matter where you live or how careful you are.

And please don't blame yourself -- no matter how vigilant you are in life, you are always going to make a few mistakes once in awhile that leave you even more open to being taken advantage of... whether it's leaving your iPod in plain view in your car, forgetting to lock the garage door, leaving your purse at the restaurant, throwing out that credit card slip with the whole # on it... these are things you remember not to do 99.9999% of the time, but obviously sometimes some people (most of us, I think) screw up.

And you know what? That STILL doesn't make it ok for someone to steal your shit. So, try not to feel bad about what you could have done differently.

That said - renter's insurance is fantastic peace of mind.
posted by tastybrains at 1:33 PM on April 30, 2008

Car get broken into anywhere. Serious thieves often hit up neighborhoods where there is nicer stuff and easy access to cars (a lot parked on the street or in a lot at night. It's doubtful that it was your actual neighbors doing the break-ins.

Anyway, you *should* contact your insurance. Comprehensive coverage is for things just like this--things that happen when the car's not being driven. There will be a deductible, but it will quite possibly be less than paying out of pocket to replace the whole thing. You are generally not penalized for comprehensive claims unless they are happening excessively, and they certainly won't penalize you for asking about it. Of course, not everyone springs for that coverage, so check your policy if you aren't sure if you have it.
posted by fructose at 3:31 PM on April 30, 2008

I know you're using the term "robbed" in the popular sense of someone taking your stuff, but in terms of unfeeling unsafe in your neighborhood, take comfort in the fact that you were not really robbed. Robbery is the use or threat of violence to take something from somebody's body. That's the really scary shit. And it didn't happen to you.

What happened to you is that someone broke something you own to take something else you own. They did it when they knew you were somewhere else, because they had no interest in fighting over your stuff with you or otherwise harming you to get it. They did it because they needed money for crack or pot, or because their niece wanted an ipod, and breaking other people's things doesn't bother them enough to save up for an ipod of their own. They're no different from my Ivy League classmates who stole each other's laptops off the tables in the library. They're thieves, not robbers.

That said, I don't really buy the line that car break-ins can happen anywhere. Two data points: the seven years I lived in Brooklyn, my car probably got broken into half-a-dozen times. I suspect there are more crackheads in Brooklyn hoping to score off a stolen car radio than there are in the small town I grew up in, where neither my parents' car nor the car of anyone they know has ever been broken into during my entire life.

So you probably live among more poor and desperate people now than before. If that's what bothers you, move. But that doesn't mean you necessarily need to worry about threats to your personal safety from robberies, home burglaries, etc. I never really worried about that in Brooklyn. Just kept my eyes open walking around at night and made sure I had the phone number of the nearest glass place always handy.
posted by hhc5 at 4:05 PM on April 30, 2008

Response by poster: Well, thanks for the responses. I did contact my insurance company immediately, but they don't cover any personal property within the car and I have a $500 per-incident deductible, so it didn't do me any good. I've already gotten the window fixed and got a good deal, but thanks to the person who offered to hook me up with a window repair guy. Also, thank you to everyone offering support and anecdotes.

To the person who suggested I talk to my neighbors, I'm on good terms with my immediate neighbors, but the neighborhood is pretty densely populated with apartments and small homes, and no one on my street speaks my native language, with the exception of a few grade school aged children.

To the person telling me to move, you might have missed the line in my OP that said "Moving isn't an option right now". Thanks anyway.

To the people who are trying to justify this by saying whoever broke my window must have it worse than me/have a really shitty life, fuck that. There is plenty of recourse for people in trouble that doesn't involve fucking someone else over. Moreover, judging by my neighborhood's demographic, it's a lot more likely that it was just some punk ass kid who wanted a new toy but didn't want to work to save up for one.
posted by booknerd at 4:31 PM on April 30, 2008

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