I didn't get mugged or come home to windows broken with a huge mess to clean up. The thieves were fast, clean and it took me hours to realize it had even happened.
Basically, I took the dog for a quick 15 minute walk and, best I can tell, they watched me leave and snuck in knowing the dog was gone and they had a few minutes to grab whatever they could find.
There is more story that gets you from walking the dog to realizing we'd been robbed - but that's not where the sunshine lives.
Later that night, after I realized what had been taken, it felt like the perpetrator must have known me. Known exactly what to take to break my heart a little: two of my grandmother's rings, a necklace that was a gift from my dad to his mother and my high school ring.
All so personal.
And they left my laptop, my TV...even some not-so-well-hidden cash.
I cried a little as we waited for the police to show up. But the next day, I hit the ground running like a wanna-be private investigator. I gathered what pictures I had of the items and created a document with photos and info. I headed to Staples and made dozens of copies. I couldn't help but feel a little bit like Helen Hunt in Girls Just Want to Have Fun - and I liked it.
I made a list of every Pawn Shop in Lancaster, Palmdale and Bakersfield and headed out to save the day.
After visiting the first few, turns out there's a lot to learn about Pawn Shops:
- Most thieves don't try to sell items for at least a couple weeks.
- All pawn shops have to report everything they buy to the police.
- Pawn shops are really busy - I waited in line a lot.
- In general, pawn shop owners want to help people who've had items stolen, but there's a consistent sigh and head tilt that basically means - "Don't get your hopes up."
Each pawn shop felt pretty much the same - bars on the window or a buzzer to get in, a faint smell of cigarette smoke, jewelry cases, a guitar or two and always a line of people waiting to sell something. But as I entered each one, I realized this was a great research mission for Yelp! reviews - so I started taking notes.
I have officially visited every pawn shop (that has a searchable address) in Lancaster and Palmdale and am working on a massive Yelp! review in case you need to know where to bring your pawnable items.
Just as all the pawn shop owners silently suggested, I'm not keeping my hopes up. Especially because return visits to check for my stolen items just make me sad all over again.
So I may be giving up on the search, but I am now your go-to person for advice on pawn shops in the Antelope Valley.