Saturday, April 4, 2020

Still Life with Robin: The 12+ Notes of Car Break-In (to the Tune of The 12 Days of Christmas)

by Peggy Robin

On Thursday I posted a message on the Cleveland Park Listserv to report that my car had been broken into. No damage – and just a handful of quarters and a box of Hefty lawn bags stolen. But I got lots and lots of off-list notes in return. So many different types of notes that I discovered they could be arranged to fit the pattern of a certain traditional Christmas song….if you start it at #7 -- with a few of the in-between verses filled in by the standard numbered items.

In my inbox in April some posters sent to me…..

7 Notes of sympathy
6 “Gee, it’s your fault….”
5 Golden rings
4 Calling birds
3 Me, too’s
2 Burglars prowls
And a prac- ti -cal tip for car keeeys.

Now for a few needed explanations:

7. I got seven notes from list members generally expressing sympathy and good wishes. Thank you all!

6. I heard from six people who included comments that in one way or another seemed to blame me, at least in part, for the incident. Most of them simply assumed I had left items visible through the car window, tempting a thief. Absolutely not! All the items I found strewn around the car had either been hidden in the glove compartment or neatly tucked away in the seat pockets behind the front seats. The change had been in a closed change compartment. In a couple of emails, it was suggested that maybe my car was NOT locked. But it was. Why anyone would take the time to send me a scolding note like this is beyond me.

5. Golden rings. Nope, didn't get anything like that. I wish! But that's #5 in “The 12 Days of Christmas.”

4. Four calling birds. Again, I'm quoting the original lyrics of “The 12 Days of Christmas.” Or maybe not. Did you know that most scholars of traditional English song believe that in the earliest versions, the line is “four colly birds”? And “colly” was the regional English pronunciation of “coaly,” meaning black. So the colly birds are blackbirds, or possibly ravens. There are many sources for this - and also much dispute among them – but I like the account found here: from the American Ornithological Society. And as a bonus, this webpage also gives the origins of all the other feathered creatures in the song.

3. I received three notes from list members who had also recently experienced a car break-in or let me know of neighbors who’d had this happen to them. (There is some overlap here with number seven.)

2. Two notes mentioned the rise in car burglaries during the coronavirus emergency. Most likely due to the fact that everyone’s stuck at home and it’s harder to find a vacant house to break into. Cars make an easier target under the circumstances.

And now to the number one note I received, the one with the most helpful tip, which correctly diagnosed the break-in method and prescribed the preventive measure needed going forward. The car thief almost certainly used a “signal amplifier” – a device which, when aimed at a car key remote, will amplify the signal, and can be used to activate the “unlock” command, even though the car remote is located inside the house. I did indeed keep my car key/remote near the front door, in an open ceramic dish atop a little desk in the front hall. After reading that informative note (which was also one of the seven sympathy notes), I am now keeping my car keys, when not in use, inside a little tin box. Thank you, Mark R., for the neighborly and practical advice!

Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland ParkListserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

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