Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

26 Iyar 5766 - May 24, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

Oh, No! It's Gone!
by Tzvia Ehrlich-Klein

Well, after living in the same city for 36 years, I guess it was bound to happen sometime. My purse was stolen right off my shoulder the other day.

The good news — no, I didn't get it back — was that everyone around me was shocked that my pocketbook had been stolen, and they all sympathized with me. I mean, Boruch Hashem that, at least here in Israel, it is still shocking that someone would steal. Though thievery does exist, the average "person in the street" is still surprised when it happens.

That was the good news, and it did make me feel a little better (even though, unfortunately, the police and my credit card company did not seem to feel that the theft was so unusual). Also, in addition, I was lucky: it was so clearly Hashem's hand that had me lose my pocketbook, that it took away some of the aggravation and anger that I felt after it had been stolen. How? Acting in a way that was very unlike my usual behavior, that very morning I deliberately put a very large sum of cash into my wallet, in addition to my credit card. And then, after some additional thought, I even put into my purse a few more hundred shekel notes "just in case" - - all very atypical. [It should be for a kaporoh!])

Anyway, having just experienced losing everything in my pocketbook, I'd like to share a few practical suggestions that I have learned from the experience:

1. Keep your hand on your purse, in addition to having your purse hanging on your shoulder (and be sure it is zipped close). This might seem like silly advice for those who still live abroad, but here in Israel it definitely does need to be reiterated.

2. If you have a car, keep the keys somewhere other than in your purse, or you might have a very difficult time getting home — and then having to return for your car! (This advice is harder for women than for men. Unfortunately I do not have any suggestions where you could keep your keys other than in a pocketbook, but I do know that it is necessary! [Not having a car, I haven't given this too much thought.])

3. Keep your house keys somewhere other than in your pocketbook, or you will have to rush home and get someone to come and immediately change your locks. This is definitely not a pleasant thing to have to do — especially if you do not have a nice, readily available, handyman.

4. Of course, the first thing you must do if your purse or wallet is stolen is to cancel all of your credit cards. Therefore, be sure that you have the correct phone number to call located in a convenient place. In addition, in case your whole pocketbook is not stolen, it is also advisable to have your credit card company's emergency-in-case-of-theft phone number listed in your cell phone's phone book, too. I was lucky: the owner of the store I was in immediately whipped out his credit card, which was the same as my credit card company, and gave me the appropriate phone number to call. Within minutes, my card was canceled — though it was enough time for the thieves to run to a store a few blocks away and charge quite a few items on my credit card (Boruch Hashem for the automatic credit card insurance that I never knew I had, which meant that I didn't have to pay for any of the thief's purchases!)

5. Try to keep your cell phone somewhere other than in your purse (life sure is easier for men! Where do women put it?!) And — this is important — be sure to have a copy at home of the people listed in your cell phone's phone book. Even if you don't write down their actual phone numbers, at least have a list of the people who you will need to include in your new phone. This is extremely helpful if your phone disappears. It is very frustrating to be out on the street a few weeks later trying to call someone with your new cell phone, only to realize at that time that you don't have the phone number that you need with you anymore (remember, your pocket phone book was also stolen with your purse)!

6. Make a zeroxed copy of both sides of all important documents that you usually carry with you: your identity card, driver's license, etc. This will remind you what documents you were carrying, and will also make it easier to have all of the relevant information you need to cancel them, such as the phone numbers to call and the exact account numbers. If you carry a pocket calendar listing all of your appointments, etc., it is a really good idea to also jot down all of the appointments you make on a calendar that is in your home, as a back-up record.

7. Have your first initial, rather than your correct first name, written on your checks so that a thief will not know how you sign your checks — and don't forget to call your bank as soon as possible and tell them of the theft.

8. People in America are advised to contact the hotlines of the National Credit Reporting organizations in order to put out a "fraud alert" on their name and social security number. (It seems that thieves abroad steal a person's complete "identity," which must be why so many private homes in the States have paper shredding machines for their incoming mail! Thank G-d we don't need that here!)

9. Give tzedokoh asking Hashem to let this be a kapporoh for you and your family, and to help you figure out what lesson you can learn from all of this.

May such things only happen to our enemies.


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