January 18, 1998


It should be pointed out that I have now lived in Los Angeles for approaching three years. (Okay, itíll be three years in May. May 8th, to be exact.) In that time, things have gone very well for me. There havenít been any really major disastrous things in my life, certainly not any of the particularly nasty things that one would tend to associate with living in a major metropolitan area.

But I knew, someday, I would be writing this column.

Someday, something would happen.

Fortunately, it was something relatively minor. Unfortunately, itís the kind of thing thatís hard to get over.

Last Tuesday night was a fun night. Out on the town with a friend at the Improv, I decided to stop at the Hollywood Virgin Records Mega-Store to see if anything caught my eye. I bought a couple of CD singles, and headed home to the Valley.

When I got home, I left the CDís in the trunk of my car, along with some new magazines I had bought earlier in the day. Flipping on the TV, I was engrossed by a very cool, very good episode of the classic Star Trek. ("The Naked Time," where hidden emotions are forced to the surface by a funky space virus, for those of you keeping score at home.) Around 1:30am, when it ended, I realized I still needed to get that stuff out of my car.

You see, I have a rule about the big city. Donít leave anything in the car that I wouldnít mind having stolen. Itís that simple. Thatís why I have no interest in getting a car CD player. Somebody steals your CDs, youíre out of luck. Somebody steals one of my mix tapes, well, thatís a hassle, but I can always make a replacement.

And as I walked down to my buildingís locked, secured, underground parking structure, at 1:30am, on a rainy early Wednesday morning, I thought the same thing I think every time I go down there late at night: "Gee, it would be a real bummer to interrupt someone breaking in to cars down here."

I walked over to my car.

I opened the trunk, and removed my purchases.

I walked back upstairs.

Flash forward to later Wednesday afternoon. Iím walking down to my car, to make a quick lunch run, and the first thing I notice is that the cabin light is on.

"Hmm," says me. "I donít recall leaving the cab light on."

Then I notice my driver-side door is open. "Well, that explains the light. But I certainly donít recall leaving it open last night Ö"


I see.

Sometime between 1:30am and noon, someone broke in to my car. They did a nice job, too, using a screwdriver to go in through the driver-side door lock. No broken windows for my would-be thief.

And thatís the really strange part. Nothing was taken. I had The Club on the car, so it stayed put. No tapes, no magazines, no cushions, nothing.

Thatís when I remembered back to what the building managers had told me when I first moved in Ė "Always take your garage door opener out of your car Ė keep it in your apartment. If thieves break in, thatís what theyíll try to steal."

Iím guessing the í89 Nissan Sentra with 100,000+ miles on it wasnít the robberís target. The door opener -- thatís what they were looking for. And they didnít get it. I had followed the managersí advice. I had it upstairs.

Youíd think the robbers would either leave an apology note (something along the lines of "Sorry we did $200 worth of damage to your lock,") or at least close the door after they were done. But no, the driver door was open, and the passenger door had been unlocked as well. Two people, rummaging through my car, looking for a clicker that was safely ensconced in my apartment above.

Too bad, suckers.

So, with no loss of property, and easily repairable damage to the car, Iím left with a bit of free-floating victim rage. My until now overwhelmingly positive emotions about life in LA have been stripped away somewhat, not by a funky space virus, but by funky intruders who didnít take a thing.

In a way, thatís more disconcerting.

But if a break-in where nothing is stolen once every 32 months is the worse thing that happens to me in Los Angeles, Iíll take it.

I donít know if thereís an afterlife, but if there is, I hope part of it involves confronting people who stole (or in my case, tried to steal) things from you. Iíd really like to find out just what the deal was with my mystery intruders.

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Colin Campbell - jenolen@earthlink.net
Last updated May 24, 1998