Foiled Car Theft

The fall of 1991 we lived on the top floor of a two-flat in Forest Park, Illinois. Since the house faced Harlem Avenue with no driveway access, we always approached through an alley from the rear. A car wash was situated at the corner of Harlem and Washington Avenues, a small home followed, and ours was the third structure. Just off the alley were three tenant parking spots and a two-bay garage. The home sat a few feet off of the front sidewalk, allowing a spacious backyard that was outlined by a four-foot-high chain link fence. The back of the gray stucco home sported back porches for both first and second floors and a staircase that allowed entry into our kitchen. Inside the eat-in kitchen were doors leading to Laine’s bedroom and a bathroom. Beyond that, in the center of the house, was a dining room, with a door leading to our bedroom. At the front was the living room. Joyce parked her Olds in one space out back and I parked my Mazda pick-up truck in another.

This summer evening I sat alone in the living room watching television while Joyce was putting Laine to bed. In what seemed like a flash, my vision of the television screen vanished and my entire sight was replaced with sight situated at a vantage point alongside my pick-up truck. The driver’s door was ajar and the sight line was as though someone was crouching at the driver’s door, half outside and the head inside the truck, peering up at the back of our house at dashboard level through the windshield.

The info-surge that followed was a thought: someone nervous, someone fairly young, a teen, male, eyeing the backdoor and window of the second floor for fear that they might be noticed. In another flash eyesight was restored and I continued watching television. I stood up as though I had to quickly react to someone either stealing from or taking my vehicle. I became very fearful of the situation as I approached the outside door at the kitchen and was afraid to open the door and charge out. Instead, I opened the main door slightly and reached around and jiggled the latch of the screen door, a noise I felt would be heard in the backyard. I closed the inside door again and walked away, telling Joyce what had happened.

Now that about three minutes had passed, I grabbed a cigarette and lighter and boldly stepped out onto the back porch and lit up. I eyed the backyard and alley, the churchyard next door, finally resting my eyes on my pick-up, noticing from this distance that the inside light was on. I walked down the stairs, looking around for intruders, and approached the vehicle. The driver’s door was open, but had been gently pushed near shut, allowing the inside light to stay on. I looked inside and nothing appeared to be missing and the dash radio was still in place. I locked the car, closed the door and returned inside.

Joyce called the local police to report our car and was told that there had been similar break-ins of vehicles along our alley in recent weeks and that police were patrolling.

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