December 8th, 2002


The Buck Passes Here

Saturday morning I go to the management office to report that I have been victimized by the recent mail thefts that they sent the memo out about. The lady sympathized with me, but said that they really couldn't do anything since it is the Post Office's mailbox, that the Post Office is responsible for whatever may happen to it, and suggested I file a report with the Postal Inspector and the Police.

I call the Postal Inspector who was very helpful, and on hearing that there had been other mail thefts in the area immediately assumed that the mail was stolen and will call me Monday for a full report. Then I call the police, who say they need to come to the "scene" to proceed. I was leaving in ten minutes for my weekend away and figured I'd call today and complete the report.

On the way up to New Hope, I stopped at the bank to cash a check for some spending money and find out that I have $34.49 left in my checking account. I called the customer service center to find out what was fraudulently charged, and they said they have been trying to contact me for days (but leaving no messages on my machine...hmm) to ask about some unusual charges. More of the same: $300 Office Max, $250 at Rockport and one for $2.95 at a website called I explain that none of these charges are mine and she tells me I have to go to a branch on Monday and fill out an affidavit that says they aren't and so on.

My brother calls his friend and asks him to find out what is all about. Apparently, for the not-coincidental price of $2.95 will provide any user with the public records available for anyone else. Also not-coincidentally, this was the first charge made on my card between the night it was stolen the first time and the shopping sprees.

We returned today about twenty minutes ago and I called the police again. This officer informs me that it is not the job of the police to investigate mail fraud and finds it unusual that the Postal Inspector suggested I call them. He said the actual theft of the mail is the Post Office's job, and then the crime of using the stolen card is the responsibility of whatever police jurisdiction the card was used in. So once I find out where these stores were where the charges were made, I have to call that police department to file a report. I asked about the wrinkle of the story, and he said that only when fraudulent accounts are made in my name, i.e. once the identity theft process begins, then can they investigate. But he did suggest I change my social security number just in case, and also suggested I rent out a P.O. Box for a while. And here I had that number all memorized and everything.
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Police Contact Comes in Threes

How could I have forgotten?

Driving home today on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, traffic was easy and I was moving along smartly. I had been passing someone in the left lane and an SUV behind me was doing the same. I move right to allow the SUV to take the lead and they pull ahead a few carlengths. I notice off to the right a teal pickup truck passing to the left across the solid lines of the exit ramp, as if they had decided not to take that exit at the last minute, just as the SUV begins merging into the right lane. The SUV notices the danger first and swerves to avoid the sideswipe. The pickup slows as the SUV seems to have regained control. My mouth was about to form the words "we almost saw an accident" when the SUV reveals that it is in fact not in control, spins around twice, begins to teeter on its wheels and ends up backend-first in the muddy median. The pickup truck begins to drive away and the traffic in the right lane begins to move again, just as the SUV regains momentum, charges full speed past me with inches to spare, directly into the right lane traffic and smashes head-on into another truck. The teal pickup squeals away and takes the very next exit off the road. The driver of the second truck points and motions to us to follow the first truck. We take the exit, follow them down a stretch of sideroad and right into the parking lot of the Anne Arundel Mills mall, write down their license plate number and return to the scene. I guess Christmas shopping takes priority over fleeing an accident.

Everyone involved was unhurt. The driver of the second pickup was happy that we understood his motioning and was concerned that he had merely scared us off. The driver of the SUV is the wife of a police officer and was talking to her husband on the phone when we told her where the truck went. "She's at the mall now" the lady explained to her husband. "No...let the police handle it!"

I provided my name, address, home and work phone numbers to the officer in charge and made sure to ask his name. I have to keep all of these officers straight when I get my calls on Monday. I hope my work has a lenient policy for lost time due to reporting to court to serve as a witness.
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