Last week I went on my first vacation in over two years; and my first with Mike. Our plan was to leave Thursday, visit his son, daughter-in-law and two grandsons Friday in Illinois, attend my niece’s wedding on Saturday in Ohio and head back to Minnesota Sunday.
Thursday we drove the 80 miles to Superior and headed south through Wisconsin. I have determined that Wisconsin could be called the “3-Cs State” – corn, cows and cheese! It was a beautiful drive. We arrived in Illinois late in the evening, ate dinner and then settled into our motel room.
We got up early Friday and drove a couple hours to Mike’s son’s house. I was a bit nervous being our first meeting and was immediately put at ease by his wonderful daughter-in-law. We spent the entire day with them – visiting, playing with the two grandsons (ages 2 and 2 months) and being together outdoors on a beautiful fall day. I loved watching Mike with his grandsons, and the smile on his son’s face was priceless as he watched his dad and sons together. The family will be coming to Minnesota for Thanksgiving and I can’t wait to see them again. I am certain that at least once a year we will be going back to see them.
Mike and his youngest grandson
Saturday began with more driving – about five hours to our destination in Ohio. My niece’s wedding was simple and beautiful; and she looked like a princess. They were married on their property on top of a decorated semi-trailer, and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect. A reception and dance followed at a nearby park. It was wonderful to see how much the groom’s family loves my niece and her daughter, and seeing all the happiness in their eyes.
My niece and her new husband.
We left the dance early for a 2 ˝ hour drive to our hotel, and were up at the crack of dawn to begin the 15-hour drive home (Mike had to work Monday, while I still had two days of vacation). Our only stops were to fill up with gas, at a Cabela’s store in Indiana and for a late lunch just across the Wisconsin border. We had a nice lunch and when I went to pay for it I noticed my wallet was missing from my purse. I checked the car and came back to look on the floor by the table. The waitress came by and asked if there was a problem. When I said my wallet was missing a trucker at the next table said he believed it may have been stolen. He had seen a couple (who he said looked like a pimp and his prostitute) seat themselves, with the back of his chair near the back of mine, and they kept checking him out. After ordering, the trucker went to the restroom. We believe that the man reached behind his chair, pulled up my purse and took the wallet out while the truck driver was in the restroom. When he returned, the waitress brought the couple menus and they said they decided not to stay. I was told to contact 911 and immediately cancel any credit cards – even if it turned out that I had lost the wallet. A short while later, I looked at my debit card account on our laptop and there was a transaction at a truck stop (eight miles away in Illinois) for over $248. We then knew for certain that it had been stolen because it was in my purse when I got out of the car, and I definitely did not spend $248. The truck driver and waitress were able to give a good description of the couple and I was told that a detective would contact me.
Due to the time it took with the police and stopping for a short nap, it was 5:30 a.m. when we finally got back home. We did take turns driving so the other could sleep a little – hoping that I didn’t get pulled over because I no longer had a driver’s license with me (the officer said I could use the police report if needed). By 8:15 a.m. I was at my bank to close my checking account, which couldn’t be done on a Sunday. Prior to the cancellation of my debit card, the thieves had added another $67 charge at a gas station and attempted a $1,000 purchase at Sears. We’re not sure if the cancellation had gone through before Sears or if it was declined to a daily $1,000 limit on the debit card. I had to close my old accounts and open new ones, fill out theft forms and send all information to the detective. Fortunately my accounts are insured and I will not be out the money. I also had to go to the DMV to get a new license, notify payroll departments at my two jobs of the new account for deposit of my paychecks, change all account information for companies that I pay online, fill out and file identity theft forms with the major credit reporting companies and law enforcement agencies, and take out enough cash to hold me until new cards and checks arrive.
Yesterday I received a call from the bank that a Wal-Mart in Illinois let them pay for a $1,126 purchase with one of my personal checks! I can’t imagine them allowing it when it is two states away and without identification (unless the woman looks enough like me to use my license). Fortunately, businesses are automatically sent a copy of the police report rather than an “insufficient fund” notification, so they can’t come after me for the money. All I am out is the $57 cash that was still in the wallet and $13 for another driver’s license – plus a couple hours vacation pay for time taken off yesterday to go back to the bank.
The detective told me that if caught, the couple will face federal crimes due to the theft being in Wisconsin and fraudulent charges in Illinois. They are hoping, with the dates, times and amount of the transactions, video tape will show a vehicle and its license plate. That way they will have a name to go on. I sure hope they find these criminals and convict them to the fullest extent of the law – not only for me but for others who may have been victims to them, and to prevent them from doing this to anyone else. It makes me so angry that someone believes they have a right to take what I have worked for.
As awful as this incident was, I am grateful that no one was hurt. I have read stories of people being injured or killed for as little as $20. I am also grateful that my bank and the authorities have been wonderful in working with me.
I have chosen to focus on the wonderful time we had with family, and not let the theft ruin memories of our vacation. Although I will now keep a closer eye on my purse and belongings, I will continue to believe that there are more good people than bad ones out there. If I allow anger and distrust to fill my life, then I let them steal much more than money from me.