14 November 2005

Dude, Where's My Car's Antenna?

About this time last week, minus an hour or two, I went to pick up my car, which was parked about five blocks away near a public park and a high school. That morning it was alternate parking day and I didn't find a space on my block so I had to park far away from my house. I made a round of the minivan and didn't notice anything amiss - no broken windows, punctured tires, etc. Driving away, I turned on the car radio and got only statics but thought, "Well, I'm right under the elevated subway line, maybe it blocked off the reception." Nothing much to it, I turned the radio off, and went on my way. Wednesday morning I noticed my car antenna was gone. It was one of those that screws on and off easily. That thing sure wasn't made for city-dwellers. Oh well, I have had the car for more than seven years now, it's time the antenna got stolen. I suspect it's probably gotten screwed off by some high school kids passing by. They probably played it like a fencing sword then threw it away afterward. Great fun, guys, except it cost me nine bucks to replace it. Interestingly, at my local Strauss auto dealer, there was only one car antenna left on the rack. Maybe there's a wave of car antenna theft going on in my neighborhood?

Since getting the new antenna a few days ago, I keep it inside the car after parking. Not too long ago, at the height of the jump in gas price, I had to dole out ~$20 for a lock for the gas tank. I don't know if these things normally cost that much, but they were in high demand, as my first call to Strauss didn't have them. I had to call back a few days later to find out they were available. I wasn't worried about losing a few gallons - sure it hurts, at $3.00+ per gallon - but it would be a tremendous pain if the gas thief drains out my tank, leaving my car immobile. To add insult to injury, my 7-year-old Club lock for the steering wheel also decided not to work nice any more. One time it took about ten minutes to unlock it. Too much hassle, I doled out another $40 or so for a new Club.

The worst car vandalism inflicted on my poor Plymouth Voyager was a few days after Halloween last year. I came home and on passing it on the other side of the street, for some reason I was aware of some shiny black fragments on the street. They turned out to be fragments of my minivan's middle window. Upon further inspection, the damage was worse than that - both middle windows were smashed. Glass fragments were everywhere. Even to these days, whenever I do some cleaning I still find a fragment or two. I guess the thief was upset that he was able to find too few coins to make the break-in worthwhile. It cost me some $300 to have the windows replaced. I called the local police precinct right on the spot but the phone rang for a long time with no answer. Another crime stat went unreported.

Incidents like these make me wish I live in one of those New Jersey towns where I can live my front door unlocked and children can play in the community driveway without the parents worrying about them being kidnapped. New York City is just too crowded these days. After 25 years, I think I've had enough. Either that, or I get a new house with a garage before I get a new car.

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