When I lived in San Francisco, my car (a sleek white 1979 Chevette) got broken into twice. The second time it happened, all they really got was my overnight bag with all my clothes in it. I was lucky that’s all there was to it, but even so, aside from the nasty sense of violation at being robbed, I was intensely irritated that the thief stole something of no possible value to them (underwear, toothbrush, socks) but which was nevertheless lost to me forever. I remember thinking, as I shopped for new underwear, that I would have gladly paid money to see a video of the thief doing the deed, even if it wouldn’t have identified the criminal. I just wanted the sense of closure at seeing the bastard work. I suppose I would’ve thought to myself: so that’s what it looked like…
My friend Roy recently sent me a link along these lines about Johannesburg, a town that knows a thing or two about car-related theft. The link points to an interview with a former (so we are told) car thief/hijacker in which the interviewee reveals some of the secrets to his erstwhile trade. It provides some of the answers to questions that are generally so damnably difficult to uncover: How do you steal cars? What is your day like? How do you choose your victims? Here for example is a useful tip: “If I was having difficulty with a particular car, sometimes I’d dress up nicely and go to a dealer posing as a customer. I’d ask the salesman how good the anti-theft system was on that car and he would give me all the details.” Good to know. Here’s another moderately reassuring Q and A.
Q. In a hijacking did you normally go for soft targets like women?
A: No, I could take on anyone. I was a professional. I’d stick my gun right in their faces and they wouldn’t give me any trouble. That’s why I never shot or hurt anyone; I was against that. A friend of mine sometimes shot people he hijacked and he used to wake up with nightmares.
Like I said, it’s only moderately reassuring.