Twenty minutes after arriving in Oakland, California we were robbed.
After a long day of travel from coast to coast, our family decided to stop for a quick bite at Chipotle just outside the Oakland Airport.
When we pulled into the parking lot we had zero, zilch, suspicious vibes of the location – it was the middle of the day, in a busy strip mall, with lots of small quick places to eat. Our Spidey senses were not even tingling.
5 burritos and 20 minutes later we came out to a smashed window and our first family robbery.
If you all know our family, you know Quinn LOVES to travel light and his rule is everyone gets to pack/bring one backpack – that’s it. This delights him.
When we went into Chipotle, if the tag from the rental company wasn’t a beacon enough to thieves, the five huge backpacks tucked in the trunk of the vehicle was like a flare on the Titantic directing them to our goods! Doh.
We were literally 25 feet from our vehicle! In a matter of seconds, our window was smashed and the desperate little thieves grabbed three of the five backpacks.
Yes, the loss of electronics was a bummer. However, the real bummer, the real hassle, was the loss of things like this: two teddy bears of irreplaceable sentimental value; the glasses and contacts that would require us finding an eye clinic in the middle of nowhere to have new glasses and trial lens contacts made; the loss of two sets of retainers which due to the length of our vacation meant over the next three weeks our teeth would move and shift; The $375 Epi Pen…
That kind of stuff…you know? Like, how I wish they would have just grabbed the things they could make money off of and tossed the rest on side of parking lot or something.
We were surprised and so grateful to learn our State Farm Insurance policy would cover the cost of our stolen items. We were grateful that other than paying for our deductible, we will would not lose any further cash from our pockets.
It seems everyone, I mean, everyone in the U.S.A. knows you just do not pit-stop in Oakland (especially if you are in a rental car screaming “tourist!”)
I am serious. The police officer that filed our police report said, “Ma’m I don’t even stop in Oakland for gas.” Um, ok.
According to our officer, California’s prison system is so overcrowded that the type of theft we experienced has been taken from a felony to a misdemeanor. This means they do not do anything to follow-up on the crime and the criminals know it. Parts of California (Google Tenderloin in San Francisco and Oakland for more insight) also have a huge homeless population. The officer shared crime that can generate a quick buck are rampant. It’s funny, when we visit Europe we are extra cautious (and have never had a problem), but for some reason Oakland was not on our radar at all.
When we called the car rental to let them know what had happened they instructed us to just return to the airport and they would set us up with a new car.
Ok, so listen to this!
When we pulled in, the attendant instructed me to “park our car in the last row with the other vehicles (there were 5 or 6) with smashed windows” from that day! They (along with the other rental companies) have their own on-site window replacement companies who only handle these daily occurrences.
You know, come to think of it, for the amount of traveling our family has done we are pretty fortunate this is the first safety/crime mishap we have experienced. Excellent reminder to not let our guard down and do our research before arrival.
Being robbed wasn’t fun, but did not ruin our trip. The thieves stole enough from us – the last thing we were going to allow them to steal was our good times!
“The robbed that smiles, steals something from the thief.” – William Shakespeare
Luckily for us, the first four days of our adventure were in a Squaw Valley in a beautiful octagonal Air B& B where we had time to decompress and unpack what had occurred with our kiddos and find places to replace clothing, equipment, glasses, contacts, etc.
Like everything that happens on our adventures (and life too!) the robbery was and will forever be part of our vacation. We folded it into our experience like warm towels out of a dryer. Teaching and role modeling for our kids that the best made plans sometimes will be majorly impacted by things outside your control and what do you do? Do you allow it to overshadow and take away from the experience or do you lean in and use it as a lesson in life of resilience and how you just keep going. You just keep moving forward and finds ways to make it awesome.
We learned some valuable lessons with this robbery.
Here are Rockonliving’s Top Ten Lessons learned when robbed on vacation.
- Back up your computer regularly. Quinn has asked me umpteen times in the past year “when is the last time you backed up your computer?” I hadn’t. Lesson learned.
- Call your insurance, bank and credit card companies immediately. Our businesses were sympathetic and put all our accounts on high security alerts and advised us what to do next.
- Make copies of all important documents. Before leaving on your adventure, make copies of all important documents you may need access to (in the future, in addition to driver’s licenses, passports, birth certificates, insurance information and itinerary, we are going to add prescriptions for medicines and glasses/contacts too) should something happen during your travels. Make a copy of these important documents and keep in a safe place where someone could get for you if needed today!
- Change all your passwords immediately. Even though our computers have passwords and fingerprint security we were advised to immediately change all passwords.
- Kick “what if” to the curb. A few times I found myself starting to think of all the worst case scenarios that could occur if someone got into our computers – and it can make you crazy with worry/anxiety. You can only control so much. There is the the circle of what is in your control (change passwords, close accounts, place accounts on high alert) and then what lies outside that circle and until something happens the worry and “what ifs” are nothing but a waste of your precious time and life. Kick it to the curb.
- Be aware of your surroundings at all time. We do this fanatically when internationally traveling and for some reason failed to do so on this domestic adventure. A simple Google search would have raised our awareness that as the #14 (out of 25) most dangerous cities in the USA, Oakland has some issues.
- The show must go on. Don’t allow setbacks in your trips (unplanned detours, in-climate weather, wildfires, illness, etc) define your trip! Learn from them, experience them, make them a part of your experience. Model resilience and demonstrate problem solving behaviors.
- Look for the helpers. Didn’t Mister Rogers say that? What a nugget of wisdom. As soon as we came out of the restaurant and realized we had been robbed we had a number of helpers that made all the difference in our experience. People who stayed with us and our children and offered support and help while we waited for the police, shared apologies and even offered their last $15. There are SO many more people that want to do good in the world than harm. Make sure you and your family sees that!
- Things can be replaced. What a delicious opportunity to practice letting go of things and not being attached to ‘stuff.’ It is the people, the memories, the experience that really matters, truly.
- Don’t stop in Oakland. Not for gas, not for food, not even for a red light. Just sayin’
I will wrap up this post and if you are thinking of traveling to Yosemite National Park or San Francisco, stay tuned!
Quinn and I will be soon sharing information (from renting an RV for the first time to visiting San Francisco in 2 days or less) to help you as you make your future plans!
Most times my husband sees rules as “suggestions.” Not at the National Parks.