Monday, February 21, 2011

Cars and crime

Okay, so I've been hit with two petty crimes against my car (here pickups or "picops" are lumped under the general rubric of "carro"). The first occurred about two weeks ago; the last one this weekend.  

On one of my Sunday excursions up to teach English in Tapesquillo, someone (probably a local kid) apparently tried to remove one of the "aros" (the decorative hoops that adorn the wheels of my truck). The aros do not serve any real function as far as I can tell, and they are secured on with plastic fasteners in addition to being fit into the wheel rim. I had parked the pickup about 25 yards up the road from the entrance to the school, next to the local church, one of the few places on the road to Tapesquillo 1 where there is space alongside the road to leave a vehicle. 

However, the school building is quite a ways down the path... so it's not like anyone was surveilling the road. I returned to my car to see that one of the aros (passenger's side, front) was hanging off (although the plastic clip was still fastened).  I wedged it back in, and my friends suggested that the next time I come I put my car inside the gate that opens to their house. 

There isn't really a driveway, however ... the road takes a very sharp curve right where my friends' home is, and there are is a very steep drop from the paved surface, a lot of ruts and rocks. It looks really, really sketchy. Also you have to walk through someone else's property to get to their house (i.e. their house does not front onto the road but is behind and below another house). I was worried about my ability to get out of the "driveway" (a well-founded fear, as  you will see below).  I put the car halfway into the "driveway" and was able to partially close the gate behind.

But when I returned to the car, the aro (same one: passenger's side, front wheel) was missing. My friends assumed some neighborhood kids had probably taken it to use for a toy, or just to mess around -- I can't imagine that a single aro would have much if any resale value. What I don't know is whether this was specifically targeted against me (as the lone gringa who traverses the road to Tapesquillo), or whether it was generalized mischief.

Then, Saturday night or Sunday morning, someone removed both driver's side and passenger's side mirrors on the truck. I have access to a parking space two and a half blocks away from my house, where my landlord parks his truck. It is not locked but it is off the street. However, sometimes I've just been tired or lazy. And until Saturday nothing had ever happened.

Sunday morning when I returned from my walk, I was walking along the sidewalk and noticed something odd where the mirror should have been on the driver's side of the truck (I had parked with the driver's side next to the sidewalk: people park their cars every which way here. I thought someone had folded the mirror in to get by but when I got closer I saw that there was no mirror, just the arm that held the mirror.  I looked on the passenger's side and someone had industriously taken a screw driver and removed the mirror and the arm that held it. 

Again, no way of knowing whether this was general mischief or whether someone knows this is my car and is expressing his (sorry, I can't imagine a young woman doing this, not in this town) resentment.

Luckily I live across from an auto service center, and although they were not open on Sunday, they took care of it first thing this morning.  And from now on I will be parking off the street, no matter how tired or lazy I am.

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