Wednesday, September 8, 2010

It’s a dangerous world out there…

No, I’m not talking about the steady flow of reports about decapitated bodies being hung from bridges in Acapulco or inmates being armed and released from Mexican prisons to carryout executions, those all seem to be pretty well isolated to those somehow involved with one of the warring drug cartels. I’m talking about the four car windows (two on the Xterra) we’ve had smashed right outside our front door, the two stolen cars recovered across the street, stolen carsand the two broad daylight muggings in the open space near the house. Add to that the shootings in the “civil gang injunction zone” five blocks away on the other side of Caesar Chavez, the crossfire shooting of a German tourist in Union Square, and the news that Oakland (15 minutes away across the Bay) is the fifth most dangerous city in the US, and you start to wonder whether anywhere we’re going is really more dangerous than where we live.

Yes, we’re in an urban area of San Francisco but it’s a nice, residential neighborhood and by no means one of the more dangerous parts of the city. While we’d suggest friends not leave anything visible in their cars while visiting and stay aware while walking after dark, that applies anywhere in the city and just seems like common sense. We’d also be able to tell a visitor areas to avoid and make suggestions on how to not to draw attention to themselves (I’m talking to you, guy texting on iPhone while walking down a crowded downtown street). So when we tell someone we’re driving through Mexico and Central America and they respond “Be careful! It’s crazy down there!” we tend to respond that the same could be said of the corner of 24th and Mission less than a 1/4 mile away, and that yes, you do need to use common sense. We also plan to talk to locals as we go to get info on dangerous areas and common scams.

After the second window was smashed (first on the Xterra), I did go to Custom Car Alarm on Van Ness and had RD install a glass break and an impact detector ($200 installed maybe?). I was surprised to realize that most factory alarms on new cars do not include either of these, likely to avoid false alarms. Then again, without one, someone could break your window and take their time sifting through your glove box or climb in and explore further. RD showed me how to adjust the sensitivity on both sensors and how to test them. Sure enough, when the window was smashed the second time a few nights ago, the alarm sounded and I looked outside just in time to see the guy jumping back into his get away car and speeding off. Having just returned from the Strawberry Music Festival earlier in the day, we lazily forgot to take the GPS suction mount of the windshield and to put away the iPod charger. That was enough to tempt them to look in the glove box and center console which we’re never lazy enough to leave anything of value in.

By now, I’ve got my mobile window replacement guy on speed dial and had the new window installed before noon the next day. I was left with a bill for $149 and believe it or not, a feeling that I can’t wait to be headed south towards Mexico… where it’s safe!