You can bet your ass I will be hyper vigilant from this point forward and I never felt this feeling of being completely vulnerable. It’s scary. It’s eye opening. I’m sharing this experience with you in hopes that anyone out there reading this will learn from my mistakes and have a little extra awareness for themselves. I couldn’t write this yesterday. I was completely distraught. Busy. Unnerved. Between talking to police and replacing what was taken from me, it was 5 hours before I got home.
No, I wasn’t robbed by my passenger. Honestly 98% of my passengers have been just fine or wonderful even. The other 2% have ranged from passing out in my car snoring and farting to touching my radio without asking, being loud, and trying to squeeze 7 of them plus myself into my Rav4… Overall the dangers from passengers has been nil.
Here I was in the peaceful, clean suburban area of Downers Grove, picking up a perfect gentleman for a passenger, middle age, plump, nicely pressed suit and outstanding manners. He’s on the phone with his wife, talking about taking care of his mother; we were headed 30 miles north to Chicago. A totally normal occurrence with a very pleasant passenger. We chatted about life and goals and tons of odds and ends in between. He was genuinely interested in conversation and so was I; he was my favorite passenger this day and may always be.
Less than two miles to go, it’s time to get off I-90 and we’re headed on Lower Wacker Drive. We chat about how neither of us like these underground roads, how I had once gotten lost down here looking for the magical land of Whole Foods, and that I had just been talking with another passenger about people getting robbed in this area while taking a man to the same hotel just the day before.
There we were, a block away from my passenger’s destination and waiting at a stop light. I had made a critical mistake…
It’s mid-day. 2:30 pm. When the world seems safe and logical and only bad thing on my mind the pending traffic jams that I am happy I should be able to escape just in time.
A young, basketball physiqued, light-complexioned, black male with clear, bright skin – the world his oyster with an entire life ahead of him taps on my driver window to show me some kind of “flyer” that I believe was a Chinese restaurant menu. I don’t like when my car is approached; it sends me the heebee jeebees. Assuming he’s panhandling, I’m shooing him off and reaching for the lock button… too late. My passenger door is fully open and another young male of the same age a characteristics is putting his head in my car.
“No, I don’t want to buy anything. What are you doing?! Shut the door!” and the passenger also “Shut the door!” They weren’t there to sell anything. I was so naïve. This is the point where thief #2 grabs anything of value in your passenger seat. Purse, laptop, basically anything within reach.
My driver side door opens and my arm is grabbed back out of the way and my phone is snatched from my dashmount. The boys take off.
My passenger jumps out of the car in an attempt to go after the young boys and I yell, “Get back in the fucking car!! You’re not getting shot over a phone.”
The light turns green and I turn and pull over. I apologize and let the passenger know that now I don’t know where to go because that was the GPS device leading me to his destination. Of course we’re a block away and I’m really just to shaken to think. He’s already dialed 911 and talking to the police on my behalf. We’re asked to stay where we are.
While we wait, I asked to call my husband. I can’t even think to recall his phone number, one of only two cell numbers I know by memory. He also let me use his web browser to send a wipe request from Lookout.com. A perfect gentleman. I am happy that the thieves did not think to open the back door on my SUV and take his luggage.
The cops tell me that they call this racket “The Flyer Boys” and it is an ongoing problem, happening every day. Outside of descriptions of the thieves, they didn’t take any other information from me… and I am left wondering why they didn’t check my vehicle for prints; considering how many times this is happening, you would think they’d be diligent in seeing it put to an end.
I’m not insane; regaining my property is not the goal at all; it’s silly to think I would get back my phone, but that more should be done in the way to put an end to repeat felonies or at least have more information in the system.
Thankful that this was a random act of robbery and not a random act of violence. My kids still have a mom today.
Safety first… whether if you are out driving for rideshare or not, if you’re on the road… keep your doors locked, especially in the city. Don’t be complacent. Reduce the possibility of becoming a victim of a crime. Stay off Lower Wacker Drive whenever possible.
I’m always asked if I am scared of being out here driving and not knowing who is getting in my car. The truth is no. I rarely have alarms going off on the people getting in my car. I do use caution and pay attention to those getting in my car and once even dropped an excuse to cancel the ride and not let someone in… be wise. Learn from my experience and LOCK YOUR DOORS.
Have safety protocol on your phone, fingerprint lock with pin, and utilize lookout.com or something your carrier offers to protect your personal information. Have a dash cam. Don’t keep valuables in the car, especially not in the passenger seat. Keep the windows up. Don’t carry a lot of valuable credit & debit cards with you or cash… If you are working rideshare, only keep your driver’s license and the card you use to purchase gas. Keep a cheapo 2nd phone with you on your person. Keep it safe and drive on.
Much Love & Many Blessings