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
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
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.