Victims of theft share experiences, advice

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Victims of theft share experiences, advice

Sebastian Petzinger, Writer

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Theft is a terrible crime and it happens way more often than you might think. Criminals are everywhere, so you cannot be more careful while in public.  

According to John Thomas, public information officer with the Elizabethtown Police Department, there were a total of 406 TBUT cases in 2018 (Theft by Unlawfully Taking). This is 16% more than the previous year. Another factor to take into account is that property crime is significantly under-reported as compared to other crimes.

You might assume that young people are not as susceptible to theft but it is quite the opposite. Teens often have things stolen from them and there are many cases involving students here at Central Hardin.

One example involves senior Malakai Witten. About a year ago, he had his wallet pickpocketed at an O’Charleys. Inside the wallet were his IDs, $20 cash and his debit card. Witten only realized the wallet was missing when he got home which proved to be too late because $120 was spent on the debit card before it was canceled.

A piece of advice Witten gives is to wear tighter fitting clothing instead of looser fitting clothing because it is easier to detect someone pickpocketing you.

Thieves are also getting more and more creative. Instead of just snatching items, they carefully research all aspects of the theft so they are not caught. Examples of this planning are stealing during busy hours, mastering pickpocketing skills, and scoping out the locations of security cameras.

All of those skills played into what happened to senior Kayla Slaubaugh.

The theft occurred at Chick-fil-A Elizabethtown on Jan. 10. After she ordered, Slaubaugh was pickpocketed on her way to the table. As soon as she set her tray on the table, she realized that her pocket was missing her wallet with all her valuables.

In a panic, Slaubaugh and other friends searched under the tables, in the seats, on the floor, and even the trash cans. After she didn’t have luck, she called the police to file a report.

When the officer arrived, he looked at the camera footage and concluded that the location where the incident occurred was a blind spot. There was nothing he could do.

Only 30 minutes later, Slaubaugh called the bank to cancel her card but it was too late at that point. There was a total of $141 charged on her debit card. This, however, was not the worst part. Slaubaugh was carrying her EKG Certification, bank account numbers/passwords, and various gift cards.

As of today, the thief has not been found and Slaubaugh has not gotten her wallet back.

“I’m mad that people are so horrible,” Slaubaugh said, “and I can’t fathom people stealing things from a young, vulnerable girl.”

While some criminals like to do their dirty work in the shadows, some do it in plain sight. French teacher Amy Boyer experienced this recently.

One day she received a call from the bank informing her of potentially fraudulent activity. $1,600 was charged on her card at costco.com. There was also an eBay charge but it was declined. At first, Boyer was confused, but after some investigation, she found out the explanation.

Two days prior to the phone call, she was pumping gas when she noticed a somewhat suspicious character. He reportedly came in and out of the gas station store a couple times before he asked Boyer to have a few dollars to buy gas to go to his destination.

Since he had a child with him, Boyer thought it would be a good deed to help the man out. She asked where he was headed but he avoided the question. She then inserted her card into his fuel station and he pumped a gallon or two of gas and left.

The bank had her file a police report and the conclusion they came to was that the man had a device in the pump that stole her card information. About a week later, the situation was fixed and she was reimbursed.

“I have never had money stolen,” Boyer said. “I definitely learned from this.”

According to Slabaugh, the best way to keep theft from happening to you is to always know where your belongings are and monitor your bank records.