Victim warns others of theft

Jackie Czarnecki stands beside the smashed window of her car. - Alex Browne photo
Jackie Czarnecki stands beside the smashed window of her car.
— image credit: Alex Browne photo

Jackie Czarnecki knows she used bad judgment – and it couldn't have been much worse timing.

"I've learned my lesson," said Czarnecki, 18. "Just don't leave anything in a vehicle – people will steal anything."

Victim of a car break-in, Czarnecki hopes her example will save others from going through the same hassles she has over the past week – and that maybe someone reading this will recognize and return some of the ID and property she lost when her purse was stolen from her '88 Buick Regal in South Surrey on Aug. 20.

That included her driver's licence, cellphone and social-insurance, debit and credit cards.

Czarnecki is having to pay to replace much of it as soon as possible, because she is heading to Kamloops next month as a first-year student at Thompson Rivers University.

She did get back her CareCard – a Good Samaritan found it on a trail in the vicinity of the robbery and turned it into a medical clinic, which phoned her two days after the robbery.

"I looked along the trail, at 150 Street and 25 Avenue, the same day, but couldn't find anything else," she said.

The day of the robbery, the Earl Marriott grad left her purse in the car, covered with a sweater, when she joined her mom, Val, and several other workers for a shift doing cleanup at a construction site near 137A Street and 24 Avenue.

"I'd just been out at the car an hour earlier, eating lunch," she said. "It was 1:45 or 2 p.m. when we came out again for a short break."

It was then that Czarnecki realized someone had smashed out all the glass in the right side window.

"I thought I'd left the window down, and then I saw all this glass on the ground," she said. Her sweater had been propped up to look as though it was still covering her purse – but it, and all her valuables, were gone.

"I think whoever it was targeted my vehicle, because my purse was a Guess purse, which is expensive, and I had the cellphone lying loose in the top. We feel as if they watched us, and saw us walk back into the house."

Ironically, at the time of the crime, the area was anything but deserted – Czarnecki estimated there were 15 people in all, including construction workers, at the site.

But everyone was busy, she said, and loud equipment probably covered the sound of the window being smashed.

"There were so many people around, I couldn't believe it," she said, noting that, where she had parked,  the window was on the side of the car closest to the house.

"If I'd popped my head out of the laundry room window, where I was cleaning, I would have seen something going on," she said.

The timing of the incident was particularly unfortunate, said Czarnecki, who plans to to take general studies at Thompson Rivers University for a first semester and then apply to finish her studies and train as an officer in the U.S. Navy (she has dual citizenship, as her dad is American).

"I've worked since I was in Grade 8 and made enough money in Grade 10 to get the car, but right now it's a struggle to get to school," she said.

"I've got to pay for books and housing and everything, and the cost of a new car window is probably going to be between $60 and $200."



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