Identity theft and burglary

It has been a bad week for some of my Oklahoma friends. Last Friday I learned one of my friends had his wallet stolen, which included his social security card. Ironically I had just attended a presentation the previous evening by an Oklahoma police officer about identity theft, how to avoid it and what to do if you are a victim. Since I had just heard the presentation, I was able to share what I had heard: File a police report immediately, notify your banks, the FTC, at least one of the major credit card companies so they can put a “fraud alert” on your account, and document EVERYTHING.

Today, another friend had a break-in by some burglars at his house in the late afternoon, apparently just before he got home. He lives in northern Oklahoma City. The burglars took jewelry, a computer and a digital camera, but really trashed his bedroom and several other rooms of the house. The thieves had kicked in the front door, which did have a deadbolt lock. The insurance agent’s repair man said he sees these kinds of break ins at least once a week, and the police don’t even take fingerprints in these cases. Victims are on their own to contact local pawn shops and provide a list of items in case they show up. Rarely are burglars like that caught. We had waited over an hour after they called the police and they still hadn’t come: A burglary is a low priority event compared to other issues the police in the area have to deal with.

My friend and his wife said they felt so violated by this robbery. Who knows who broke into their home? They could have been drug addicts looking for a few small electronic items they could pawn for some quick cash. Amazingly, Oklahoma law does NOT require that pawn shop owners obtain a drivers’ license number or other identifying information from someone selling goods. How dumb is that? I was glad I could assist a little after the burglary in helping videotape and photograph the damage that was done to the house, but overall the experience was pretty depressing and eye opening.

I feel fortunate to live in an area where crime is (I think) much lower in frequency. What a helpless feeling to be in your house trying to sleep at night, where hours before burglars had been stealing your jewelry and other possessions. The burglars turned over the bed and even cut into the box springs mattress, looking for hidden money. I think that entire experience would naturally leave someone feeling vulnerable and violated.

Please pray for my friends and others in their neighborhood who have been the victims of burglaries. Thankfully no one was home and no one was there to be injured in an actual altercation with the thieves. If drug addiction did drive them to steal, I pray they will find assistance they need to escape their addiction and stop breaking into the homes of others and stealing to support their habit.

It can be a scary world out there. Times like these remind us that we need to constantly put our faith and trust in the Lord, for He is always with us no matter how dark the valley. I was also glad to be able to be there for my friends. No one should be alone when they face difficult and hard times, including crimes committed against them.

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