When crime is close to home

My car was broken into last week. Well, that’s not quite right: I forgot to lock my car, and someone went through it. Again.

The last time was a month ago. They got all the loose change out of my ashtray, but the only valuables in my car are car seats, my paltry collection of makeup and an expensive baby carrier or two–not what you’d call a score. So this time, I found my center console and glove compartment open, my makeup rummaged through, and the hood of my car popped (I think they were going for the trunk release), but nothing was taken.

It totally didn’t faze me the first time it happened, and I felt only slightly unnerved this morning. But I’ve been thinking about it, and here’s the thing about crime: If it doesn’t happen TO you, it may as well be a million miles away. That string of robberies on our street this summer? The police raid one block up on Friday? I can’t do anything more than lock my windows and doors (ha. irony.). We’re not going to move. I can’t alter my lifestyle to be any safer…we lead a pretty boring, non-risky life.

Furthermore, I’ve been challenged to rethink safety and protection as something of an idol. “Praying for protection” was something I did regularly but I don’t know that it’s a very biblical practice. God has not promised me that where He leads us, we will find safety.

I mentioned this casually to a former Wheaton professor in an email, and he encouraged me to only lock the car if it’s likely to be stolen. He also suggested ways to turn a potential robbery into a “giftery” with a sign in the window: “The car is unlocked; no need to break the window,” plus a plate of cookies on the dash. (He’s the most counter cultural person I know.)

I’m more interested in the person trying all the car doors on my street, what they need, and why. How can I help him or her, in a way that empowers and dignifies?

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