I read a very interesting post in Gregory's blog about burglaries the other day. It is a really helpful article and I would encourage you to check it out. I mentioned to him that my purse had been stolen and he encouraged me to write about it so I did!

Every year in the Public Schools, I would co-ordinate a big Clifford parade as a culmination of a week long unit on Clifford the Big Red Dog. The children would get so excited and proudly march in their red and white outfits as their parents happily made videos or took pictures.

I remember one year that my assistant was out with pneumonia on the day of our big parade but it turned out to be a great day and the children were very well -behaved. I remember walking them out to the bus that day and showering them with hugs and praise for the fine job they had done. Thirty minutes later, I was met in my classroom by two parents who had arrived for their conference. I distinctly remember that they were divorced but had an amicable relationship and wanted to work together to make sure their child succeeded.

Our conference wound down after about forty-five minutes and I asked them if I could walk out with them since it was getting late. They cheerfully agreed and I went to grab my purse. I was puzzled that it wasn't where I thought I had left it. I started searching with the parents who offered to stay and help me look for it  I  could find no sign of it anywhere. I called for the custodian and he joined us in the search. I ended up having to call my husband to come and get me that Friday afternoon because I just couldn't figure out where I had misplaced it. Just to be on the safe side, I called and canceled my credit card and was advised by a manager at the bank to put a freeze on my checks since I knew the sequence of the numbers in my missing checkbook.

The next day I received a call around noon from a woman at a check cashing center. She told me "my babysitter" was there to cash a 170.00 check. I told her to call the police immediately and realized that my purse had been stolen. She tried to keep the woman there but she had fled by the time the police arrived.

Over the next month, I received countless calls from collection agencies threatening to prosecute me for insufficient funds. I became an expert at filling out affidavits of forgery. Over 4,000.00 worth of checks were written on my account. I kept telling myself that at least I was safe because I had put a stop payment on the stolen checks. I was so wrong. A person can set up a draft on a checking account if they have the number which is what my thief did. Since my account had never been closed, I ended up being responsible for those funds. I was angry because I thought the bank officer should have warned me of this. I closed the account that very day.

I called the detective in charge of my case and he told me he had over 100 cases in his log but that he was doing his best to find the person that stole my purse and checkbook. Since the person kept writing checks, I decided to do some detective work of my own. I started going to wherever the checks had been cashed and asking to watch the store videos. This went on for a few weeks to no avail and I began to get really discouraged. 

I remember one night I went to a grocery store and said a silent prayer before I went in. I asked God to please help me put a stop to the misery of having to deal with all the harassment from the collection agencies. I went in and asked the manager if I could see the video for the day the check in my hand had been cashed. We watched it together but we could not find the numbered sequence to match the time stamped on my check. I remember silently praying "Lord, I don't know if I can take much more of this!"  Dejected, I thanked him and turned to leave.

All of a sudden, he called me back and asked to look at my check again. He looked down at it and said he realized that whoever wrote out the check wrote the wrong date on it. He pulled out another tape and we found the correct sequence. There on the tape was a parent at my school laughing with a friend while she wrote out one of my checks with my purse over her shoulder. She had a child in the first grade classroom across the hall. I was dumbfounded. Many people would say that it was just a coincidence that the store manager found the correct tape but I know it was an answer to prayer!

It took a few more weeks for the police to get all of the information that they needed before she was arrested and convicted. On the day social services came to take her children away from her, someone slit one of my tires at school. I was never able to prove who did it but I did stand my ground and ask that she be tried and prosecuted for stealing my purse. I never got my purse or funds returned but the biggest thing I lost was my tendency to trust. I locked my purse in my car after that.

In the private school I work in now I marvel at how the students leave backpacks lying outside on the grounds. As I walked to my car this evening, I saw a violin left in front of a building.  In three years, I have never heard of any incidents of theft at my school. I feel so blessed to be working in such a wonderful place.

36 comments

  1. Kelly // February 25, 2010 at 9:41 PM  

    That's horrible! That's awful to happen to you, but at least you found the culprit. Yea for you for pressing charges. I would have too.

  2. VKT // February 25, 2010 at 9:57 PM  

    Thanks Kelly! I am so glad it is behind me!

  3. Kim // February 25, 2010 at 10:09 PM  

    I am so sorry that you had to deal with that horrible situation. I can only imagine how trying it was. I am glad that you found the thief and stopped further checks from appearing.
    I am especially glad that you work in an environment now that in which there is that level of trust and comfort. :-)

  4. VKT // February 25, 2010 at 10:31 PM  

    It truly is a wonderful school to teach in Kim. Thanks for your comment!

  5. Bernie // February 25, 2010 at 11:22 PM  

    I am so careless with my purse, I leave it every where....this has shown me I have to be much more careful as I wouldn't want to go through what you have....so sorry you had to go through this.
    .........:-) Hugs

  6. Lily Robinson // February 26, 2010 at 12:42 AM  

    I have been the victim of theft several times, and it made me distrust. I can't imagine the way I'd feel watching someone I knew laughing while stealing from me! I miss trusting people...

    I'm glad you now work at a place where you feel secure. Everyone should be so lucky.

    Thanks for visiting my farm blog and commenting on my snow video.

  7. Lynn // February 26, 2010 at 12:44 AM  

    I have heard of this happening to another elementary school teacher. Her purse was stolen during open house, by a parent of one of her students. Fortunately they caught the person on video camera at one of the stores (using a stolen credit card) and I believe they did end up arresting her. I just can't imagine one of your own students' parents doing something like that! Sheesh.

  8. Theresa Milstein // February 26, 2010 at 6:20 AM  

    That's an amazing story. Good for you for not letting yourself be a victim and solving the case on your own. The police must get bogged down with so many cases that they can't take the time to do that kind of investigation.

    Nobody needs that kind of harassment. Thank you for the tip about the checking account, so I can close it if that ever happens. I had my cell phone stolen once, and the cell phone company was not kind, refusing to take off all the calls.

    Handbags are stolen periodically in Cambridge. Because I'm a sub, I wind up carrying it out of the classroom most of the time.

  9. VKT // February 26, 2010 at 6:56 AM  

    Thank Bernie!

    I am ready to head out the door for school and I feel like I just got a "virtual" hug from your comment.

    Have a blessed day!

  10. VKT // February 26, 2010 at 6:57 AM  

    Bless your heart Lily! Sound like we are kindred spirits even if I am a lot older! I loved your pics!

  11. VKT // February 26, 2010 at 6:59 AM  

    Lynn,

    How sad that any parent would result to stealing from someone who was trying to help children! I just couldn't believe it.

  12. VKT // February 26, 2010 at 7:01 AM  

    You are so welcome Theresa. I hope that you never have to use that tip...let me tell you.

    If I lived up your way, I would make sure you got a job my blogging friend. I can't think of anyone that deserves to be teaching in their own classroom more!

  13. Heather // February 26, 2010 at 7:35 AM  

    Oh, how awful! Makes you feel so violated somehow, doesn't it?

    What a gift to be able to follow up your public teaching career with such a great job that you have now!

  14. LouAnne // February 26, 2010 at 7:47 AM  

    What a difficult thing to have to walk through, and then to find out it was someone you knew. :-( That's absolutely heart breaking. I thank God He lead you to the responsible party so the nightmare could end!

    You're blog is so interesting! I came over to thank you for stopping by and couldn't leave. I've been sitting here reading for quite a while now. Your real life experiences are more interesting than most of my made up stuff. :-) I have two older sons, 22 and 24, so I had to laugh out loud at the shopping story. I felt like standing up and cheering for every mother everywhere! :-D

    Hope you don't mind if I follow along. I'm hooked now!

  15. Terri // February 26, 2010 at 8:10 AM  

    What a horrible thing to go through. Thank you for sharing, I will defin. be more aware of where I put my purse. Have a great Friday :)

  16. Married to a med student - Marissa Nicole // February 26, 2010 at 9:45 AM  

    Thanks so much for the comment on my blog! I'm sorry to hear about your purse!

    Mclinky allows others to link to their blog from your blog. So if you have a themed day, like I write what I am thankful for on thursdays, and then invite others to post to their blog and link it to my blog. So if they click on the mcklinky it will invite them to enter the http of that blog entry and then it will be linked on my blog. That way people who read my entry can see other bloggers entries about what they are thankful for.

  17. GregoryJ // February 26, 2010 at 1:09 PM  

    I have another post here about ID fraud and what to do.
    How can people have no conscience?
    I'm glad you caught her and prosecuted. It's a shame you were liable for the funds. The bank screwed up. Another reason for me to hate banks.

  18. Choices // February 26, 2010 at 6:02 PM  

    So sorry to hear about about your purse being stolen, but good for you for being persistant and finding the person who did it. Persistence is good!

  19. arlee bird // February 26, 2010 at 6:08 PM  

    wow, what a story! But at least the culprit was bagged which probably rarely happens. An incident like that is a real invasion upon one's peace of mind and trust in their fellows. It's sad.
    Lee

  20. Cheryl Moore // February 26, 2010 at 6:33 PM  

    Thank you for your recent visit to my blog and also for leaving a note. It's very nice to meet you! :)

    Wow, that was an amazing story, and the fact that you persevered on your own (with virtually no help from law inforcement) and the store managers worked with you to let you view the videos...just everything. It's sad that you were not able to recoup any of your money that you worked so hard to earn. I dont like it when I learn that the bank manager didnt fully do her/his job by telling you other details that were important!

    I thought of another topic that you could write about that would have relevancy in this case: What do people think about webcams or some kind of video monitoring devices in the classrooms? I think it would be a good thing to have them! What would be the pros and cons?

  21. Niki // February 26, 2010 at 7:02 PM  

    Hi, there's an award for you at my blog :o)

  22. Edie Parrott // February 26, 2010 at 7:04 PM  

    I'm so glad you are in a better school now where you don't have to endure such stress!

  23. Theresa Milstein // February 26, 2010 at 8:54 PM  

    Thanks VKT. After I wrote such a long comment here, what I thought about the most were the children taken away from that woman who stole your purse. They should have been removed, but what a shame that she was the kind of person who didn't deserve to keep her children, because they deserved a good parent.

  24. VKT // February 27, 2010 at 12:29 AM  

    Thanks Teri! I hope you have a great week-end!

    Blessings!

  25. VKT // February 27, 2010 at 12:30 AM  

    Thanks Marissa,

    I am not sure I understand but maybe I will give it a try sometime.

  26. VKT // February 27, 2010 at 12:31 AM  

    Thanks Gregory! I will check out the new post!

  27. VKT // February 27, 2010 at 12:33 AM  

    Thanks Choices!

    The sad thing is that I was assigned a victim's advocate. She told me that the woman had victimized many others before me. I have no doubt that there will be others after me unfortunately!

  28. VKT // February 27, 2010 at 12:34 AM  

    I agree Arlee Bird! Thanks for the comment!

  29. VKT // February 27, 2010 at 12:35 AM  

    Thanks Cheryl. I will give that some thought. You do bring to mind something that I can post about tomorrow though! Thanks a bunch!

  30. VKT // February 27, 2010 at 12:36 AM  

    Sweet Niki!

    I am sooooooooo new at this. I am the wrong one to give an award to. I don't know what to do with it. But, thanks so much for the thought!

  31. VKT // February 27, 2010 at 12:37 AM  

    Edie,

    When you hit the number of years when you can retire, I would highly recommend that you consider going to work in a private school.

  32. VKT // February 27, 2010 at 12:41 AM  

    Theresa,

    I couldn't agree with you more. That is one of the most disheartening things about our job! To see what some parents do to their children through neglect and/or verbal or physical abuse is so disheartening!!!!

  33. May Be Miracles // February 28, 2010 at 12:38 PM  

    VKT,

    You have amazing stories and I'm so glad you stopped at my blog and left a comment so that I could come here and read!! I look forward to reading much more here later on this evening!! So sorry you had to go through losing your purse...you are a smart and determined lady though. Although God doesn't "make" or "allow" things like this to happen, I'm sure He's elated when people like you show strength and courage, turn to Him in prayer, let Him help you, and then share your story with others. I have definitely learned a lesson in perserverence from you!!! And that's what it's all about.
    God bless!
    Dustine

  34. VKT // February 28, 2010 at 2:53 PM  

    Dustine,

    I KNOW He led me to my new school. What a precious place it is to work. We can pray every morning and have devotions. I could go on and on but I will put it in future stories! Blessings!

  35. Rakesh Kamandal // March 1, 2010 at 8:59 AM  

    Think your blog is doing well now

  36. VKT // March 1, 2010 at 10:50 AM  

    I really appreciate your help Rakesh!