Stealing from the Mourners

We had a ceremony at the grave of our adopted son's birth mother today. She died 12 years ago, but we only recently met the birth family and have together put a stone on the grave. The entire family - for the most part, the folks who were at the May Day party - gathered for some lamb before driving out to the cemetery, even though it is Ramadan. It seems there is special dispensation for celebrating death.

We were a little convoy of four cars, me leading the way. It sure is difficult making sure that all the cars stay together, and I seemed to hit all of the yellow lights in town. It was a good 20 mile drive, the Muslim cemetery is out in the boonies. We parked the cars, and I am positive that I locked the car. I am obsessive about locking the car, even if I am only getting out to put in a letter. And more than one person remembered me locking the car, waiting until a cousin had gotten something out of the back of the car for her little boy.

The ceremony itself was interesting - everyone dipped their fingers in the earth of the grave, the little kids hands were dipped for them. My son's birth-aunt gave the wailing plaint I have now heard many times out at the cemetary, and then she lit two cigarettes - she put one down with the butt in the earth for her sister to smoke, and she smoked one herself.

Meanwhile some of the 23 people (one of the kids was counting) went off to look for the other family graves that are in this cemetery. When they came back, some of the kids helped "give the grandmother a drink of water" - watering the plants, wiping down the stone, and then everyone kissing the stone before they left.

I was deep in conversation with one of the cousins when it began to pour - I excused myself so I could go open the car for my passengers - and was irritated that they were already in the car. We pulled out, and at the light the cousin turned to dig for her purse to get out the train times - she was leaving with her kid for a week's trip to visit other family. But she had no purse.

Okay, it is criminal to leave a purse in a car in Berlin. But at a cemetary out in the boonies? We pulled off at the next parking space and she dug though the car - nothing. We called the other cars - did they happen to have her purse and her bag with her clothes? The baby bag was luckily still in the car. No luck. We called back home, two cousins were guarding the food. No, they had not seen the purse.

We drove back anyway, just in case she had not taken the bags with her. We turned the place upside down - no purse or bag. So while the major part of the party dug into the food, we drove back out to the cemetery with the cousin. We looked all around the woods, drove in both directions to parking areas, looking for ditched bags. Let the thieves have the money, but the clothes and the identity card were the most important. As an asylum seeker she has to have written permission to leave the city, and she had gotten this for the week visiting the cousin.

No luck. We found a lot of garbage, but no suitcase. So we drove to the nearest police station. The policeman was very nice, he inspected the car for traces of entering, but couldn't find anything. He took down all the information, and let the cousin call the debit card place to have her card stopped - with the card and her ID card, pretty much any woman could get up to the limit of money. He said that they get a lot of cars broken into out at the cemetery. It's wierd, 'cause the place is so deserted. But apparently, they find their mark, break in, and are off in their own car in a flash.

We drove back to the party, but they had all disbanded. There was still a lot of food left, so we got some warmed up and had just sat down to some food when my son's girlfriend came over. "Can I have the car keys?" "Why?" "I want to get my purse out of the car."

SCREAM! Teenagers! We spent all this time and nerves talking about a purse being stolen out of the car, and she doesn't think about her own purse until 4 hours later? I ask her why on earth she does not take her purse with her. "I thought it would be safe in a locked car."

I decided to eat first, breakfast had been at 9, and except for a bit of the lamb at 12 I hadn't seen food nor drink for a while. The lamb was great, even warmed over. Another cousin kept bringing dish after dish after dish of food - I honestly don't know where they keep this all! I was stuffed, then we gathered people together and headed off to another police station to add the third bag to the list. As we get out of the car at the police station, the girlfriend remembers that she left her coat back at the place we were celebrating...... I want to surgically attach her things to her!

But of course, we can't extend the list at this station, our options were: drive 20 miles back out to where we were this afternoon, or send them a letter or fax. I opted for the latter. I don't suppose we'll ever see any of the stuff again. I hope the thieves get caught using the EC card. And that their teeth fall out and that they get a mysterious itching rash in hard-to-reach places and that they get bit by a dog. Stealing is bad enough, but stealing from mourners - there must be a special place in hell for these criminals.

Update: The cops called a few weeks later. Both the purse and the suitcase turned up, sans money and valuables. But the clothes were still there. They had been dumped at the cemetery, we just hadn't looked hard enough, I suppose.

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