Sunday, April 18, 2010

In Our Own Words

Memory Picture
Memory Picture
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
Today, we delivered our impact statement to the Pukekohe Police. The judge uses these statements during the sentencing phase. The thieves who took our stuff have been in jail now for a few weeks. The judge gets to decide based on what they've done and how it impacted us how long they will stay there. The court asked me to have the girls and DrC write their own statements.
It made me very mad to know someone had stolen important things that only affected me. -- Aeron Conger (9)
* * *
The burglary was very upsetting to my wife and children. We were still living out of our suit cases, having a hard time finding a place to live. The house smelled like cat piss and we weren't sure we could live here. The burglary was like someone telling us "We don't want you here." We thought our neighbors might have done it, until the thieves were caught.

Financially, we will recover, since we have property insurance. It will be a big pain in the ---- having to deal with the insurance company and keep track of everything we purchase for the next 12 months. My wife has spent many hours dealing with these issues already.

Petty thieves deserve to be punished, because their crimes are, most likely, not of necessity but of opportunity. Stealing is easier than earning an honest wage yet it causes immense emotions and societal harm. It alters our way of life on a fundamental level and changes the way we view our neighbors and fellow man. -- Dean Conger (45)
* * *
This theft hurt me personally, because many of the things that were stolen had no commercial value, but they had memorable value. They were a piece of my life. The most important stuff I owned was the stuff that was stolen and not returned. I was also hurt by the complete lack of respect that someone showed. I don't know how this could be justified. -- Jaime Conger (14)
* * *
Our family moved to New Zealand in mid-February. We pared everything we owned down to ten suitcases, seven of which were taken in the robbery. I want you to imagine that you distilled your life to just a few bags and that 70% of everything you owned was then taken from you. This was a financial loss, certainly. It was a more devastating personal loss to all of us as things we valued very much were taken.

Financially, we will recover from our insurance company roughly two thirds of our total estimated replacement cost loss of $X,000 USD ($Y,000 NZD). The difference is primarily due to depreciation on the high value electronics, medical equipment and marine equipment that were in the bags. Another large fraction of the unrecouped loss comes from a single item: a folio containing business, educational, medical, and recreational software which the insurance firm will not recover. The irony is that the majority of the recreational disks are not actually functional in New Zealand. We also lost no small amount of accumulated data on the external hard drives which will take years to recover. We had copied all our movies and music on to those hard drives so that we might leave the original disks in the States. The work effort represented is a dead loss.

Emotionally, the issue is more challenging. After two years in Mexico, it was strange to feel that we were considerably less safe in New Zealand… a country reknown for its low crime and corruption rates. I think immediately after the theft, we all just wanted to go back to Baja where we would feel safer. Gradually we are pulling out of that and beginning to enjoy ourselves again. However, the entire incident dramatically shook our confidence. I must stress that the actions of the Pukekohe Police -- their consideration, respect, and diligence -- have materially helped the entire family in this recovery process.

Personally, the hardest moment for me was walking into the garage where our things were found. Everything of monetary value had, of course, already been taken elsewhere -- sold or traded, who knows. But there in the garage were so many precious bits of our lives. And they had thrown these bits -- diaries, pictures, souvenirs, children's clothing, letters and mementos and homemade jewelry and gifts -- into the trash. My daughters' most precious possessions were mixed with dirty rags, empty soda bottles and food wrappers. It made me cry then and it makes cry now to type it. Our lives meant absolutely NOTHING to these people. They felt NOTHING when they treated us like garbage. It is hard to have even the slightest empathy or sympathy or respect for someone whose values are so distorted that they miss the most obvious value of such things.

Immediately after this happened, Mera and Aeron agreed that the punishment for a crime such as this one would be to take the most valuable, precious and important thing the thief owns and burn it. Just burn it. But when they got some of those things back, they came to me… separately… and said no. Don't do that. Because no matter how bad the thieves were, we can not be that cruel. It just hurts too much to lose something that important. I will defer to my daughters on this point, and leave the notion of justice to someone considerably more objective than myself. Personally, I feel far more Mama Bear and mean. -- Karen Toast Conger (42)

* * *
It felt like an earthquake. The stable thought you get that no one is bad or evil and nothing bad will happen gets shaken up and destroyed. I thought that like an earthquake as well, it is sudden and quick, but takes days or even months to heal. But it also reminded me that our possessions are not our family. They don't matter nearly as much as my Mom or Dad or my sisters. Still, it was a constant burr in my side afterwards, remembering all the useful, important, silly, or just normal stuff that were now gone forever. The things that probably hurt the most were my diaries and my Mom's life-time jewelry. By some miracle, the thieves missed the jewelry and were caught by the police, so once I got my diaries back, everything else didn't matter too much any more. But I can still remember turning into a waterworks, Mom trying to pull it together, our empty, run-down house, and the question that usually comes at times like that. Why? -- Mera Conger (11)


Anonymous said...

Have you submitted any of your writing to travel magazines? You should seriously start submitting because your blog is wonderful.

judith said...

I'm so thankful the Police system came to your rescue. I pray the justice system helps you all find closure in this.

dick T said...


The blog is great and we hope to see you on the ocean as you return soon. Keep up the wonderful blog

Anne and Dick
"Full & By"

The pale observer said...

Hi Toast - my hubby and I, about to embark on some years of the cruising life, found your blog over a year ago - and since then we've been following your progress. Sometimes we ask each other, "what's up with the Toast family"...

Anyway, we feel like we know you in a way, and I am very sorry to hear about the robbery - what a bad welcome to NZ! Your letters are heartfelt and I hope the judge throws the book at them!!!

All the best - Holli