I hope you have already read my “Helpful Sites” piece and found it, well, helpful! Today’s post concerns somewhat of a different matter, but will hopefully still be “helpful” to anybody out there that has been stolen from or robbed.
A little back-story: a few years ago I was robbed at the Jersey Shore. It was 9AM on a sunny Sunday; I was riding my bike on the Northfield/Linwood/Somers Point Bike Path in Northfield when a man jumped out of the bushes, grabbed my bike, snatched the small purse I was carrying on the handle bars and ran away. I was with my lovely Aunt and Father, who were shocked and scared. My Aunt, in particular, was thrown from her bike by the man and was visibly upset. I tried to pursue the man on my bike, but kept a distance and ended up turning around for fear he had a weapon.
From this experience, and then a subsequent theft, I learned quite a bit about being stolen from and how to handle such disasters. Here are some things I learned:
1. I let the perpetrator have what they want. When the man robbed me on the bike path, he grabbed for my purse – I braked and gave it to him. Not sure if he had a weapon, and if he would use it, I submitted and did not actively pursue.
2. Call the police. Whether you are robbed or just stolen from, filing a police report is the most important thing to do. Immediately call the police where the incident happened. They will ask for the details of what went down, who was there and what was stolen. The police should follow up with you a few days after your report, however, make sure you get a complaint number when you file, just as a reference; if no one from the Department ends up calling you back, you may be the one following up. Once the police report is filed,
3. Call your credit card companies and banks. Cancel your cards (you can do this online at your provider’s website) and call your bank to cancel your debit cards. The credit card companies will issue you new cards and your regular banking branch should be able to issue you a new ATM/debit card immediately, with a different number and pin.
4. Get a duplicate Driver’s License: If you had your wallet stolen, you probably had your driver’s license stolen as well. Unfortunately, your license is probably the only form of I.D. you carry, not to mention it’s illegal to drive without one on you, so it’s absolutely necessary to get a duplicate. I had to and this website http://www.state.nj.us/mvc/Licenses/6PointID.htm (this is for NJ but all you have to do is Google your state’s DMV for info) lets you know WHAT documents you need to bring to the DMV in order to get a duplicate license. Look at these before you go….nothing is worse than waiting in line only to be told you don’t have the correct documents. You may want to get a duplicate registration if that was in your wallet as well. You will need your driver’s license number and license plate information for that.
Once the police report was filed, credit cards were cancelled, ATM/Debit was reissued with a new number and pin, and duplicate license was in hand, here were some follow ups that needed to be done:
5. Make sure automatic pay info (in which only your credit card or ATM/debit was used, aka: not a bank account and routing number) is properly changed to reflect your new credit card/ATM card numbers. I had to change the information for these organizations where I had automatic payment: Planet Fitness, Netflix, ASPCA (monthly donation). Basically, anywhere you used a credit card for automatic reoccurring payment had to be notified and changed.
6. Finally, I ran a credit report on myself within a week after I was stolen from, just to make sure my cancelled cards were inactive and there were no suspicious charges. http://www.freecreditreport.com/ is my favorite.
So it definitely stinks getting stolen from, but it’s not the end of the world. The most upsetting part of this for me was how vulnerable I realized I was to crime. That and having a special wallet my Mother gave me as a gift gone forever.
Thanks for reading and I hope this never happens to you. But if it does, here are some tips to help.