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I became a crime victim last week. When I stepped off the light rail and walked to my car on Friday, I was greeted by the unpleasant sight of a carpet of shattered glass and a ripped up dashboard, courtesy of a local scumbag thief (apologies to all scumbags.) They managed to do probably a thousand bucks worth of damage to my car and in return for their efforts, got a crappy Sony aftermarket stereo that might net them $20 on Craigslist. Now, I’m just the kind of pollyanna to try to take something positive away from any situation, however negative it is. And what I took away from this was . . .

I was stupid. I admit it. This is an area of known car break-ins (I’ve seen the evidence before). I failed to remove the faceplate of my detachable faceplate radio, I failed to lock the glove compartment, and (stupidest of all) I actually had a spare key in the center console (why the thieves didn’t steal my car, I don’t know). I made the mistake of assuming an 11-year-old 4runner with a POS stereo would not be attractive to thieves. Apparently I overestimated their tastes.

In addition to ripping apart my dashboard to get that wonderful peice of high-end audio equipment, the thieves also rifled through my center console my (unlocked) glovebox, the tool compartment in the right rear quarter panel, and the plastic trunk in which I keep my jumper cables and other recovery gear. Everything was gone through, but nothing was taken, not even the 3-d-cell mag lite which, it seems to me, would be prized by any lowlife scumbag thief.

After contacting the police, the insurance company and my wife, I was able to drive home. As I was cleaning up the glass and taping plastic over the window, I took a good look at the back of my vehicle and noticed this:

Yup, the NRA sticker in the top left corner. Could it be the thieves saw the sticker as an indicator that there might be a valuable firearm in the car? Hard to say, but they sure went through a lot of effort to steal a lousy stereo and the change in my ashtray. The fact that they bypassed other valuable items (tools, flashlight, even the remote control for the stereo they took) tells me that maybe they were looking for something else, like a gun. (No other cars were broken into along this street on this particular day.)

Lessons learned for me:

1. No more parking at that station (when there are stations that have security less than a mile away)

2. “Security features” like detachable faces are there for a reason, and should be used.

3. Don’t store anything in your vehicle you aren’t prepared to lose, and finally,

4. As much as I like “showing the flag” with my NRA sticker, maybe I’ll break out the old razor knife and just leave that one off the car from now on.

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  1. It's a common theory I've seen espoused on other forums (fora?). It also seems to make sense, though I have an NRA sticker on one of my two cars.

  2. I avoided putting an NRA sticker on my car based on the paranoid fear that a veteran's plate and an NRA sticker equaled a potential prize. Apparently my paranoia was founded.

    I’ve also avoided putting any political stickers so as to avoid pissing off some cop with differing views…

    Sorry you had to go through the hassle!

  3. I occasionally leave a gun in my car when I have to go somewhere where I can't carry. I'm paranoid enough about that without adding any indication that I have any interest in guns attached to my car.

    …and I hate the concept of a 'car gun'–a gun you'll leave in the car, cheap enough that if it gets stolen, you aren't out much.

  4. Detachable face plates etc. aren't all that effective. A troll once yanked my radio and then popped my trunk to get the face plate. If you take the plate with you, they will still tear up the car looking for it. And they can pop your glove compartment in one second.

    The bums may have been looking for guns, but maybe they just wanted cash. The SONY might have been an afterthought. Let's face it, most petty theives aren't Rhodes Scholars. The upshot is that YOU didn't F-up. They (or he) did.

  5. The newer stereos keep getting the faceplates stolen instead of the entire unit…. why? because there’s a power interrupt unlock code. When the power is disconnected it takes your set code to unlock the head unit. Which makes the faceplate the most valuable part left to steal.

  6. I don’t think the sticker had anything to do with it. I have a 20 year old Mitsubishi Eclipse that was broken into for a crappy radio. Like you, I had tools and other valuable in the car but they only took the stereo. There are no stickers on this car to point to anything at all, it was just a random theft in a bad area.

    Electronics are something young people can quickly flip and make fast cash. Tools and other items of interest to honest people often require a certain type of buyer. Not that it isn’t possible a crook would be looking for a gun, but it disturbs me to think another gun supporter would give anti-gunners more ammo to criticize us.

    • PB: A few points:

      1. The reason I surmised that I had been targeted because of my NRA sticker was because no other vehicle was broken into on that stretch of street at that time. My vehicle was targeted, specifically. The NRA sticker is the only thing I can think of that made it stand out. It is an otherwise nondescript 4runner (very popular here in CO.)

      2. As noted above, they rifled through every compartment that could possibly have held a firearm, and yet they took nothing other than the stereo on the ~$20 worth of change in my ashtray. This tells me that (a) they were looking for something specific and (b) they didn’t find it.

      3. As for a “gun supporter would give anti-gunners more ammo to criticize us”, this site is called “The Truth About Guns.” I call it like I see it and let the chips fall where they may.

  7. I realize this is an old article however for those that may stumble upon it. I have had a Military DOD Sticker on my front window since 2001 and a Springfield Armory american flag sticker that says “Oldest name in firearms” that came with my 1911, on my car forever, and have never been broken into even after parking in the ghetto of LA, San Diego, San Francisco, all over Washington state andTacoma ect….. So I think its just random bad luck and paranoia on your part to believe the sticker caused the break in. For all you know if the thieves had seen the sticker they might have been deterred from breaking into your car by the idea you may be watching and or carrying. By the way, Stickers do not break windows, people do. I live in Orange County California and have seen lots of NRA stickers on peoples cars. I think people that try to ward you off from the NRA or other gun sticker being on your car are probably trolls and others with an anti constitution agenda and do not want people to realize just how many people are on the right side. I think if everyone put the sticker on their car it would make the communists realize where they live and that their efforts are futile. It might demoralize that group instead of giving them the illusion of power and keeping our side quiet and in fear.

    • +1 to that. I totally agree with this commet above and was thinking the same thing – bad luck & coincidence. Likely had nothing to do with the sticker. Maybe not but thats my opinion. And can you really be certain no other cars were broken into that day in the same area? Maybe it wasnt reported or obvious to the owner? Or yes, maybe yours was the only one. Either way, I have 2 NRA decals, one NRA power decal, and an “Anybody BUT Obama” sticker on my truck. Have not been pulled over or broken into yet – Heaven forbid – and I am actually most concerned about someone stealing my NRA power decal than anything. I sure hope not since you cant buy them anywhere anymore!

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