Crime Without Punishment

We were warned about the dangers of living in the city of Valparaiso. At the fruit markets, they always tell us to protect our wallets and purses. At the soccer field, they say to always keep your bag close to you.

On Thursday I found out the hard way that the concern was warranted. As a part of my daily schedule, I had been walking up the hill to the local soccer field to play pickup soccer with some local kids. After three days in a row without any problem, I walked up the hill with my Dad and my brother on Thursday. We noticed that there were several other teenagers playing soccer, and the normal homeless characters.

We walked into the field and I set my bag down to put on my cleats. I began to play soccer while my Dad and brother were playing frisbee. I wasn’t thinking about where I had set down my bag and I drifted over towards the goal on one end of the field and started shooting. When my brother got tired of frisbee, my dad joined me in playing soccer. None of us were watching my bag.

By the time we were tired, I looked up and realized my bag was missing. Unfortunately, there was not much we could do. It could have been any number of people who come and go from this soccer field. Luckily, I hadn’t put my shoes and water bottle into my bag so they were still lying there. Then I remembered I had put my phone in the zipper of my bag. We looked and tried to ask around but eventually decided just to go home and try to use “Find my iPhone.”

My phone has a lock on it so they will not be able to get in; however, “Find my iPhone” only seems to work if the phone has service or wifi so that was no help. More importantly, I had a key to our apartment in my bag, so we decided to head down to the cops and ask for their advice as to whether it was necessary to change the locks or if criminals usually just steal in the heat of the moment.

We head down to the police station and they tell us they can’t do anything about the bag but that criminals usually don’t follow up by breaking into houses because they do not want to risk being caught. They asked us to file a police report. While filling out the paperwork they asked me to think about everything I had lost, and finally, I remembered.

On the back of my phone, I have a sticky wallet that I keep a debit card in. By this time I was panicking. We were only halfway through the police report paperwork, but somebody had my bank card and could be draining my account as I was talking to the police!

I wanted to run home right away, but we rushed through the rest of the paperwork and finally, we were able to return home. After a panicked call to Atlantic Federal Credit Union, and with the help of my parents, we were able to de-activate the card and confirm that no money had been stolen.

I feel very privileged to live in a place like Brunswick, Maine, where I feel so safe. However, I do feel like I learned a pretty important lesson–and probably will learn many more after five more months in this city. I learned to pay attention to the advice of friends and those looking out for you and to not get too comfortable. Because in this city, the field where I go to practice most days is also where some people sleep every night.


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