September 7, 2011
Niles Nerd

4 Lessons learned from a break-in

I’m a privileged citizen of an incredible country: Canada. I’m naturalized, and like most who are not born here, we have a deeply emotional attachment to our citizenship. We are the most fortunate people on earth! This may sound odd, but my good-night songs to my children is “Oh Canada” (our national anthem). One of the reason we love Canada is because you generally feel safe, don’t need to lock your car or home in many parts of our country and not think twice about it.
Last night some thieves roamed our street and a number of us had our cars cleaned out of valuables.
A neighbour down a few streets called me at 7:02am and said she found some of my family’s ID on the street along with my card so she kindly called me. I raced right over, thanked her, and then noticed bits and pieces that led a clear trail of where the thieves went through our wallets and tossed out receipts, coupons, frequent-buyer cards, etc. The thieves certainly did not cover their tracks!
At 7:20am I get back home with the thieves “unwanted” wallet content that I had recovered, and woke up the rest of my family to inform them of what had just happened. My oldest two boys (7 and 5 years old) immediately went to their knees, and the oldest prayed “Oh God, I hope you have a serious consequence for these people that took our things.” My second son prayed “God, I’m thinking that maybe these people needed daddy’s money more than we do.” Our 5-year old has always been an old soul.
Lesson #1: Keep a wholesome perspective – my kids did that for me today

At 7:30am I checked for forced entry in our family car and there just wasn’t any. I’m an avid Security Now podcast listener, and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if an 8-year old car’s wireless remote can be hacked. Sure enough, as I’m walking around in my t-shirt and shorts some neighbours start to gather to see who else got cleaned. What!? Not just me! This is getting worse! Could we all have left our cars unlocked? Nobody wanted to admit it.
Lesson #2: Double-check your cars are actually locked
At this point I’m eating humble pie. For years I’ve gently (and sometimes not so gently) reminded my wife about what a bad idea it is to leave a wallet in the car. Last night I forgot mine in my scottevest which I left in her car because she drove me to the chiropractor and back home. Argh!
Lesson #3: Do NOT leave your wallet(s) in your car
Only at this point did we realize that my wife’s iPhone is also missing. We are avid users of Find my iPhone app which we use to find each other instead of calling each other with “Hey, where are you?” as well as the times you’ve set it on vibrate and can’t find your phone in the house. Was I ever grateful for this app when I launched it and it said “45 seconds ago”, indicating how recently it was able to locate the iPhone’s location as shown below. To protect the innocent I’ve blocked the street names:
- Nerds On Site
Lesson #4: Be pro-active and plan for possibility of loss of theft.
I didn’t know this was what I was doing by utilizing the location feature. Note that it’s not just a matter of installing the app, but if you following these simple instructions, you too, can benefit from this great tool!
UPDATE: I accidentally hit ‘publish’ instead of preview, but meant to add that the experience with the London Police was incredible! I called 911 and even though it was not technically an emergency, they were at my place within 30 minutes. The officers immediately confirmed that based on an iPhone location report, they would knock on the doors and speak to the resident and ask questions. They did exactly that, and as it turns out, within 5 minutes I had my wife’s iPhone back! His side of the story was that he actually found it on a lawn on his way home from the bus stop. He had purposefully left it on and was expecting someone to show up or call the phone. Fair enough, the story was believable based on the fact that he found it in the same place as where the “paper trail” ended.
UPDATE 2: A gentleman named Armen turned up at our house tonight and delivered three more pieces of ID from my wife’s wallet that had been found in the neighbourhood. Although none of the pieces of ID had our address on it, he was resourceful to find my address and I’m thankful to Armen for that – FREE Nerds On Site service call to you good sir!
Question: What lessons have you learned that can help all of us be safer?

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