Health & Medicine

Dear thief

To the woman who stole my wallet:

I’d love to sit and talk with you. I’m not angry. I forgive your behavior. Still, I’m curious about how it feels to invade someone’s intimate space, then take and use something that isn’t yours.

Last year, I found a person’s purse at the grocery store and happily returned it to the owner. I was even grateful for the chance to help her. It felt good to do the right thing and disperse positive vibes into the community.

You, on the other hand, opted to be a nuisance. You’ve willingly fomented distrust. You’ve chosen to create fear among your fellow humans. That can’t feel very satisfying.

Granted, I left my locker unlocked that day. I take full responsibility for making that mistake. I even had a padlock in my gym bag. I wanted to believe that the locker room was safe.

Your action changed that perception forever.

I’m fairly sure I know who you are.

You were watching me in the full-length mirror as I changed my clothes. You didn’t arouse any suspicions at the time. It wasn’t until several days after the theft that I re-enacted the scene in my mind.

You didn’t appear to need the money. You had on slim, stylish jeans and a denim jacket. Your hair was attractively coiffed. You obviously could afford a gym membership. So I wonder why you needed to risk stealing something from me and possibly creating unpleasant consequences for yourself.

Your pattern indicates that this isn’t the first time you’ve stolen a wallet. You knew exactly how to determine if my credit card was valid. You filled your car at the local Shell station, shopped at Scolari’s and Rite-Aid, then treated yourself at the Black Sheep Bar and Grill.

The credit card company has promptly reimbursed those expenses. My new cards have already arrived. Yesterday I purchased a new wallet. I’ve applied for a copy of my driver’s license.

Your theft caused me an afternoon of confusion as the staff and I tried to figure out what had happened. I also had to make several phone calls, talk to fraud prevention departments and spend a long afternoon at the DMV.

The inconvenience is now behind me. My life is back on track. I bear you no ill will.

Still, your behavior left an indelible mark on more people than you know.

First, the staff at the gym was crestfallen when they learned there had been a theft. They treat their patrons like family. They never imagined it could happen to them.

Fellow members will also be saddened. We’ll be more prone to view each other with a hint of suspicion, wondering if the woman on the next treadmill would break into our locker or perhaps steal our keys.

Even others not associated with the business are negatively impacted. Everyone who hears about it feels a tad more vulnerable, as if he or she has lost one more degree of control.

That’s the saddest repercussion of your little antic. You’ve taken more than my money or my VISA card. You’ve robbed all of us of our feeling of safety. You’ve deprived us of a sense of security. You’ve invaded our inner psyches.

Of course, crime is nothing new. And your crime is relatively minor. No one was physically hurt. The inconvenience was over in a matter of days.

Still, I have to wonder how it feels to take somebody’s wallet. Was your trip to the pub really worth it? Trust me. I’d like to know.

Sincerely, Linda

What to do if you’re the victim of a crime

Have you been the victim of a crime? Consider taking these steps:

• Get medical attention as needed. Seek prompt care if you’ve been injured. Physicians’ reports will also aid in prosecuting the perpetrator.

• Report the crime to the proper authorities. Call the police. Or, if the crime happened in a business, inform someone in charge. They’ll want to know what has happened and be able to take appropriate actions.

• Cooperate with the investigation. You’ll be doing what you can to apprehend the criminal and boost your sense of control.

• Get emotional support. Being victimized by a crime can create emotional turmoil. Friends and family may not be able to provide the help you need. Join a support group or get individual counseling. There are plenty of people who care.

• Take care of yourself. The first months following a crime are especially stressful. Eat regular meals. Get plenty of sleep. Take a long walk. You’ll be helping in your own recovery and re-establishing order in your life.

Linda Lewis Griffith is a local marriage and family therapist. For information or to contact her visit