On February 14, 2013 I became another Harris County, Texas, suburban crime statistic when criminals broke into my Copperfield toy store. The irony is February 14, St. Valentine’s Day, was supposed to be the last day I was open as a brick and mortar. Being quasi religious, I took it as a further sign that my closing to the public was the right thing to do. I missed the phone call from the monitoring company that the store alarm was going off, so they called Harris County deputies to the store, and then tried calling again. What would someone think they would get from a tiny boutique toy store? Apparently cash. Obviously those Bozos had never owned a small store, and hence didn’t know they weren’t going to hit the mother lode on me.
When my husband and I arrived, there were two deputies patiently waiting in cars outside. They followed me in, past the coinage scattered on the cement in front of the store, on the doormat, on the store floor. My old and well used Toshiba laptop, used as a cash register was hanging by a cord off the counter, and the cash drawer was missing, although the idiots had left me bits and pieces of it. I was finding coins scattered around up to the day I moved out. All the cash I’d left inside as I hurriedly closed my store the day before was gone.
The deputies walked me through and were very kind; made me proud to be a Texan. Once they’d secured the store and made sure we’d checked everything, they waited until dawn outside to see if the criminals came back for more, or decided to hit another nearby store. I was comforted to see them.
This was not the first time my business had been victimized. I had been scammed by two credit card processing companies, once by a hot check writer who I had to track down and threaten with the DA’s office, people letting their children break my merchandise, shoplifters, but this seemed so much more personal.
That day in the wee hours of the morning I looked at my husband and laughed. “Well, Happy Valentine’s Day, honey,” I said to my husband. He smiled grimly, and the deputies chuckled. What can you do but laugh or punch the wall? It was another of those reaffirming moments in my marriage where, with a crystal like clearness, I was reminded how loving, trustworthy, amazingly wonderful my husband was, and that despite being victimized by idiots, I was one of the luckiest people in the earth.
My brick and mortar is no more, and my online business is being wound down, but there’s precious more time to spend with family. The Recession had made me feel like a prisoner serving prison time in my store, but the break-in and closing of my business made me feel as if I’d been paroled. Lucky me in that now I have time to be with the things that really matter: my dear husband and my sons.