All of this broken glass had to be picked up after the car break-in at Valley Green Inn. According to a 14th District police officer, thieves sit up high on a ridge and look mainly for a woman who leaves her car to take a walk or run. (Photo by Barbara Sherf)

by Barbara Sherf

As I was leaving Valley Green Inn after catching up with a friend last week, I saw a police car out front and a young woman sitting on the bench in tears. Walking my friend to her car and giving her a hug, my intention was to then take a meditative walk and clear the cobwebs from my brain.

But as I passed the young woman and female officer, I hovered. The officer was from the 14th District, which covers the parking lot in front of the Inn where my car was parked. The car break-in happened in the 5th District in the parking lot off of Weiss Mill Road.

I listened to the officer educating this clearly stressed-out woman whom I will call Lisa about leaving a purse or anything of interest in view. She even said you shouldn’t start pushing personal items under the seat or moving them to the back seat.

“I think she gets it,” I said.

“Who are you?”

“I’m this victim’s advocate,” I responded, “and I also write for the Local.”

The officer did not want to be quoted, but basically she shared that the perpetrators sit up high on the ridge and look mainly for a single woman who may be ready to take a walk or run.

The thieves figure they have a half-hour before the woman (and they do target females) comes back to her car, only to find a smashed driver side window.

The officer noted that while most break-ins occur in the spring or summer months, there is never a time that you should leave your purse, valuables or even a gym bag that might spark some interest to seize the moment.

I went from hovering behind the bench to sitting next to Lisa as the report was compiled. I rubbed her back and asked if she needed a phone or a cup of water or anything else.

She said that Katie, manager at the Valley Green Inn, had been very kind in calling police and allowing her to sit inside and have some water and clear her head. She said her cell phone had died and asked to use my phone to text her husband about cancelling their lone credit card. I turned the phone over and continued to rub her back and comfort her.

As the officer was doing some paperwork, Lisa shared that she lives in Germantown and that she had run an errand in Roxborough and thus entered the park and parked on the farthest space in the Weiss Mill lot.

“I wasn’t sure I was even able to walk; you see I am newly pregnant and am having serious mood swings with my hormones. I wasn’t sure I could wipe the tears enough to get out and walk,” she stated. “My brain was just in a fog. I normally know better but I was a mess.”

“I know hormone issues from this side of the menopausal fence,” I offered.

The officer said that the thieves often use the credit card before the victim even gets back to the glass-shattered vehicle. I shared with Lisa that my wallet had been taken from the handbag I left on the back of my chair of a Chestnut Hill coffee shop as I was conducting an interview. I empathized and knew that her tears were also for the feelings that arise — fear, shame, being invaded and the loss of a belief in the goodness in our fellow human beings.

I went back to the inn to borrow a broom and dustpan, and we filled a box with glass, making sure to clean the debris from the parking lot so as not to cause a flat tire for another person.

We put a blanket on Lisa’s driver’s seat, and I offered — no, demanded — to follow her home. I knew she was upset, and who knew if the perps were scoping out her home?

Once on her small side street, I went through her car to get everything out while Lisa went inside to get some plastic and tape for the window. After that job was complete, I asked if I could come in.

She said yes, but warned me that she has a cat. “Oh, I love cats,” I responded.

We got some water, and she started making the calls, first to the police to let them know that her credit card has been used to the tune of $200 at the CVS Pharmacy on nearby Lincoln Drive. Initially the police needed more information, which she found and furnished. They said they’d look into it.

“Yeah, right. Good luck with that,” my skeptic of a husband said upon hearing the story.

I vowed to keep in touch with this woman, whose baby is due on July 8, the birthday of a dear friend.

I’m hoping to have educated the readers some and to have given Lisa a glimpse again of the brighter side of humanity.

As I was leaving, I fingered an angel coin in my pocket that I had secured from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church earlier in the day. I handed Lisa the angel coin and told her to put it in her new wallet. “Spirit put me in this place and time for a reason. I know how important it is to listen to spirit. May God bless you and your husband and your baby. Keep your eyes on the prize.”