I wrote a story last year about how much I love trash day, but that all changed in April this year when my suitcase was stolen and the new trash service in Newport Beach began in the neighborhood about three weeks ago.
In April I was ready to take a trip to Florence, Italy, and then get on the on a cruise to tour the Mediterranean from Sorrento to Istanbul.
I packed my suitcase with daytime wear, and evening clothes as the trip required dressing up for dinner nightly. I did a clothes chart for each event and day and made sure that I did not exceed the seventy pounds I was allowed for air travel.
I put my suitcase outside next to my garage ten minutes prior to the arrival of the car to take me to the airport. I briefly went upstairs to get my other bag and close up the house. I came out and my suitcase was gone. Within that short time frame, my suitcase had been stolen.
A neighbor at the end of the courtyard saw a man on a bicycle in tow with a large black bag—no doubt mine.
Can you imagine losing your suitcase five minutes before leaving for a trip to Europe for 22 days?
My neighbors called the police so we could make a report. I ran upstairs and packed another bag and got into the car. When I got to the airport I actually had to start buying clothes in the terminal and would continue to do so once arriving in Italy.
Most of you who have traveled know that you really do not want to have to buy clothes in Europe. The credit card companies charge extra fees for all transactions and the clothes are more expensive to purchase. Many Europeans come here to buy their clothes. You also have to scour the cities for the items needed because there are few department stores that have everything in one place as we do.
I share this story so that this does not happen to you. Do not put your luggage outside even five minutes early on your neighborhood’s designated trash day. Apparently the guy who stole my things was a regular scavenger in our area on Mondays.
It was the perfect storm even though my luggage was not sitting anywhere near the trash pick-up point. He spotted my bag near the garage and behind a large bush. I still cannot believe it happened and am still replacing things.
To make a claim you need receipts and pictures of your clothes. I made a claim when I returned from the trip and started looking for the guy myself. The neighbors see him on his bike on Superior and they saw him in the courtyard the next Monday after he made his big score on my luggage.
I am considering putting out another suitcase for him to steal that will not be filled with expensive clothing but other surprises.
I have put my luggage out a few minutes early for 25 years of travel and nothing has happened, but it’s not worth taking even one chance ever again.
I have also learned to never pack my most favorite things for travel again. Do not assume that your neighborhood is safer than others. Recently I was told that people have to shut their garages on Lido because kids getting out of school are just walking into people’s houses through open doors and taking things.
We live in a different world and have to adjust accordingly.
There are people that make their living going through our trash and homes. We all need to be more cautious and good neighbors watching out for each other. Had I not been gone for so long I believe I could have captured the guy the next week when he came through again. But 22 days away was to long before I could do my own personal investigation and set up a sting suitcase! Thanks Jane for calling the police when you saw him the second time.
I now know how so many of you feel when things are stolen from you. You feel violated, scared, angry, and despondent at the thought of having to replace things you have collected and care about.
I feel like I can never leave the garage door up for more than a few minutes, never leave the front door unlocked unless I am close to that part of the house, or a window open while on a short errand. What a terrible way to have to live.
On my trip I never allowed hotel staff to handle my luggage without my presence. It really made me overly cautious and it was hard to get past while traveling.
Lastly, I would like to comment on the new trash service. It is causing problems in our neighborhood because the cans are so large that many residents think that it is fine to leave them outside all the time.
It is also confusing having two sizes of receptacles. Different things are allocated for each size can and picked up at different times. That was not clear when I ordered my one size. The courtyard looks junky with these bulky cans sitting in flowerbeds and on the nice landscaping in the complex.
The company has also not picked up all the old cans, and in several areas on Lido they took the person’s old tops to their cans and left the old cans. I will do my job to report the offenders. Trashcans belong behind a fence or in the garage not sitting out all over Newport Beach. This is a neighborhood issue, and the city’s. We all need to work together to make the system work.
I also am wondering how our city is saving money on trash service when it now takes two drivers instead of one to do the runs, and they come through each area twice instead of once like the old service.
That is My Take
Gloria J. Alkire