A Lesson With Vehicle Break-Ins

If you follow GMD’s blog, you might’ve read about our recent road trip down to Portland and Seattle. Yeah that’s the place to be if you want to keep up to date with my personal life 🙂

So the road trip overall was really fun, but there was one brutal incident that put a real damper on the weekend. Is it just me, or are the only finance posts I write myself lately just an ongoing bitchfest about our bad luck? Seriously we’re due for a string of awesome luck soon.

I hate to admit it but this incident all started with my cheap side taking over a decision. On the 3rd day of our road trip we arrived in Seattle on the way back from Portland. After a painfully slow drive there we were eager to check in to our hotel and wander the city streets. Since our hotel was downtown there was no chance of scoring free parking for the night. When I asked the valet what the price was, I found out that apparently they were selling lobster dinners and not an overnight parking space. The price was an absurd $46 per night and yeah they’d expect a tip on top of that. Umm…no thank you!

Of course there were a number of other ‘secure’ parkades (that’s a parking garage for non-Canadians) within a couple blocks. We had no problem walking our suitcases over to save $20. And yes I was too drowsy to think of letting my girlfriend out at the hotel with our suitcases while I parked.

Eventually we get back to the hotel thinking that we had shown the hotel valets that they can’t rip us off with their pricing. Little did we know that their $46 rate would’ve been much cheaper than the option we chose.

A Surprise The Next Morning

Early the next morning we headed to the parkade to drop off our suitcases before some more shopping. After putting the suitcases in the trunk, my girlfriend went to grab something from inside the car. One small problem….the passenger window had been smashed in sometime overnight. I’m thinking there could have been better ways to start the last day of our roadtrip.

When something like this occurs, shock tends to take over as you come to terms with what just happened. Instead of sudden fury, my mind took a couple minutes to fully comprehend the situation. So first thing’s first, “what did that asshole take from my car?” Turns out the thief just wanted anything that he could easily resell with tags still on it. Can you say crackhead?

My jacket in the backseat – untouched. My bag of $10 in Canadian change – untouched. My stereo – untouched. My new clothes and pc speakers in the trunk – untouched. My girlfriend’s brand new ipod still in the box – gone. My girlfriend’s Victoria Secret bag – gone. Hmmm, does that mean that it’s her bringing this bad luck on us lately? Think again.

The Big Financial Hit

You can’t forget about the insurance deductible I’d have to pay to fix the broken window. My ‘smart’ move of raising my deductibles to get lower premiums came back to bite me in the ass. Goodbye $500…I feel like I barely knew you.

Then there is my girlfriend’s ipod. Guess who bought that as part of her birthday present? Well I’m not going to let some douche take one of my girlfriend’s presents. As soon as I could find a Best Buy that day I replaced that present. It made for a rather expensive ipod, but at least I could soften the blow for her.

Money aside, the really annoying part was the big inconvenience. When it first happened we also had to deal with glass littered all over the interior of my car. The gas station lady even tried to tell me she didn’t have quarters for me to buy to use their vacuum. Luckily her manager intervened before I went off on her. With the glass all cleaned up, we could still try to make the most of the day.

Here we were still on a road trip and suddenly we couldn’t leave the car unattended. It made for a rather uneventful day of siting in parking lots as my girlfriend did some final shopping. The sacrifices I make for that woman lol. That day I was really reminded that I’ve got lousy games on my cell phone when using it without internet.

On the drive back home we were reminded about how much better air-conditioning works with the windows rolled out. Ironically I had just fixed a mildew smell in my A/C the week before just for this trip. Driving past farms with fresh manure on the fields was a little tougher to deal with too.

Now my car is all fixed after having a courtesy car for a few days. One nice thing is that they repainted the entire door, possibly including some small scratches that may have already been there already. Plus I kinda liked driving the courtesy car since it was fairly new with extras like satellite radio and a sunroof.

Lessons Learned

First of all, do not assume that public parkades truly are secure. If they’ve got hundreds of cars parked there and easy access for anyone, it’s a very tempting target. Sometimes paying extra for more secure parking is just a good idea.

Secondly, be very careful about what you leave in your car when it’s parked. We weren’t really thinking when I just casually draped my jacket over her shopping bag. That mysterious lump in the backseat combined with a foreign license plate put a bullseye on my car.

Thirdly, raising your insurance deductibles doesn’t always work out. I knew it was a gamble but considering how few insurance claims I’ve had, I figured it was worth the risk. I haven’t crunched the numbers, but for that savings on my premiums to balance out, I’ll need to be claim-free for a while. Other people may see this as a reason to lower those deductibles, but that’s not how I do my gambling. Instead I’ll ride it out to try to recover that difference. Perhaps that thinking is why I have to avoid going to casinos 🙂

Hopefully something like this never happens to you, but it wasn’t the end of the world. It was mostly things that money could solve. When this happened to my boss, they got all his girlfriend’s ID and went to town on her credit cards. Remember how vulnerable your car can be and think twice about what you leave in there.

Has anyone else dealt with something like this? Make me feel better with some worse stories about vehicle break-ins please.

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