Stolen Suitcases

Ever had your backpack or suitcase snatched? Your car broken into and bags stolen? Ever wonder what happens to your stuff? Some of it winds up here: Where Stolen Stuff Goes.

And some of it is at my house.

Let me back up. I’ve been the victim of a smash ‘n grab several times. Every time I assumed what was stolen was dropped on the ground a few blocks away when the thieves discovered it contained completely useless (as in little to no street value) items. Preemie clothes? Really? I can’t imagine those being sold on the street (or being of any value to your run of the mill smash n grabber). Swim trunks and a (very likely moldy) towel? Puh-lease. No one wants that crap.

Guess what? Someone does.

And if you’ve had your suitcase stolen in San Francisco your clothing may very well be in a garbage bag in my mother-in-law’s basement headed for the dump right now. I’m not sure what would have happened to it if we weren’t cleaning out the house though. [And why she’s choosing the dump over Goodwill I couldn’t say either.]

I don’t honestly think that my mentally ill (possibly on drugs that require needles) brother-in-law was (is?) an active participant in the swiping of suitcases. I suspect he is more like the guy who ends up with the loot after all the good stuff has been taken out by the original thieves. Not that I think he’s above swiping your suitcase should you leave it on a corner unattended. I just don’t think he has the mental capability to participate in any meaningful way in what the police describe as a “ring” of car thieves. But I could be wrong. Regardless, while he was living here the suitcases came in droves. Some of them are really NICE suitcases. Like, I almost kind of want to keep a few of them.

So what happened to all the stuff that was in them?

The clothes he washed. The washing machine was constantly running. He offered us items he thought we might like. I’m not sure what his ultimate plan for all those clothes was. Or if he even had one. Most of them were women’s clothes (and inevitably got mixed up with my own laundry). He even occasionally brought home baby items found on the street. [He was always bringing home random junk items found on the street in addition to the suitcases. This annoyed MIL more than you can imagine. And is also why we can’t be sure the needles we found are even his versus something he collected perhaps with the thought of resale.]   But it was the suitcases he wanted. He needed them for work.


His ‘job’, in his mind, was recycling. That’s how he made money – by collecting (or stealing) recycling and taking it to the recycling center. In CA glass bottles still get you $0.05 a piece. I think they buy plastic bottles and tin cans as well. And in San Francisco it is ILLEGAL to take other people’s recycling out of their bins even though they don’t want it. That was a new one to me. I looked it up because I thought he was right that it’s legal. He wasn’t. It’s not.

Anyway, bus drivers will not let you on the bus with bags full of recyclables. According to BIL, anyway – and I believe him on that one. You see where this is going now?

Your suitcase was stolen so my BIL could pack it with recyclables, jump on the bus and make $12. Because in his brain, that’s his job. It’s how he makes money.