Dude, where's my car?

Saffiya Ismail
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This violation of my personal space made me realise I don’t cope too well when something is taken from me without permission. 

In my head - I think Liam Neeson in Taken. I played the scene over and over in my head

“I don't know who you are. I don't know what you did with my car. If you think I can buy another car, I can tell you, you are wrong; between e-Tolls, petrol hikes and interest rates, I don't have money.

But what I do have is a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career.
Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. Pen to Paper!

If you let my car go now, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you.

I will not write about you but, if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will, I will... I will report you to the SAPS.

But in actuality this is what really transpired.

Step 1. Panic.

Step 2. Sobbing uncontrollably, then start laughing like crazy because of course how can my car be stolen, behind Fort Knox security on the “good side of a residential suburb”.

Step 3. Try to call the men in blue then realise you've dialled the wrong number. Sob some more!

Step 4. Promptly forget your licence-plate number. Ask “Why me” over and over?

Step 5. Sheepishly admit that you left several valuables which you shouldn’t have in the car. Laugh some more between the tears.

Step 6. Use "chop shop" in a full sentence illustrating how streetwise you are. Try to get your quivering voice under control.

Step 7. Call your insurance company only to realise its 6.45am and they still probably sipping on their coffees before their day starts at 7am. Get agitated with family members. Sob and apologise.

Steps 8-11. Run your toe into the nearest corner, trying to get all your documentation together for the police report.

Step 12. Curse "the ones who stole my car."

When your car is stolen your life is turned upside down, not just because it’s your hard-earned money being driven away, it’s all those hidden costs; inconvenience, the Third Degree one gets from your insurers. 

The criminals drive away with your essential item and you get treated as if you stole the vehicle. Then it’s the time spent away from work trying to pick up the pieces of this crime, then trying to replace the valuables which were in your car and the time spent at the licensing department / police station / Home Affairs. Why?

Because one doesn't ever expect your car to get stolen from your locked garage behind automated gates. So we let our guard down thinking driving licence or identity documents are safe in the cubby.

But alas! We live and learn that we are and always will be vulnerable to external factors. That even Fort Knox won't protect you when someone wants what is yours.

According to statistics 91 400 to 120 000 vehicles are stolen in South Africa each year. Unfortunately the factory-fitted alarms and locked doors, automated gates and garages don’t seem to act as a deterrent these days. Then, when you mention the car you drive, you get responses such as “what do you expect?” There's a greater need for your car's parts.

It's never a good feeling to wake up at 6.30am, go off to contribute to the economy, and realise somebody has set you back and added another number to our crime stat which affects the very same economy.

Interesting statistics:

There are an estimated two-million stolen vehicles being driven on South African roads. That's out of the 10-million total. This is two-million more than the official number of eight-million. This represents billions in lost revenue to licensing authorities. These vehicles will be cloned / duplicated vehicles (source: http://datadot.co.za/stats.php)

I am thankful, though, that my family and I are safe, we comfort ourselves knowing others live with the trauma of hijacking, injury and sometimes fatalities due to crime. 

I write this article whilst queueing from 8.30am to now (1.30pm) to apply to be brought back to life as a legal citizen. I am hungry, tired and quite irritated with people who don't know that standing in a queue = personal space.  

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