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St. Louis Robbery Victim Writes to Suspects: "I Will Never Look at the World the Same"

Categories: Crime

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Here at Daily RFT, we chronicle the crime plaguing St. Louis -- from the all-too-regular homicides to the frightening accounts of home invasions to cases of sexual abuse and more. But rarely do we get to hear directly from the victims, those personally impacted by criminal acts in the city.

One 28-year-old victim of multiple home robberies, however, recently shared with us her story -- and an open letter she penned to her unknown suspects about how hurt she is by these experiences.

"For them, it's just taking these things," the St. Louis resident and photographer, who wished to remain anonymous, tells Daily RFT. "I just don't think they realize what this does to a person.

What happened?

The resident, who lives in between Gravois Park and Benton Park, says that she was coming home with a friend on a Friday night at around 6 p.m. when she noticed a vehicle she didn't recognize outside of her renovated storefront apartment building.

There was a man in the car laying low, who honked when she showed up.

"Then, I see two men carrying my things out of my house, and I started shaking," she says. "My immediate thought was to jump out of my car. It's just so hard to see that and feel like you can't do anything.... These people have my things. I have to figure out who they are."

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Her door after a break-in.

But she and her friend, out of fear, stayed put -- and the car drove off in such a hurry that they weren't able to catch the license plate.

Then she went inside and assessed the damage.

Continue for more of our interview and for the letter she wrote to her suspects.

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13 comments
jbradhicks
jbradhicks

When my van was stolen, one of the two thieves got caught, and I got to be there to make a victim impact statement when he was sentenced. I made a similar statement about how I was out of work and couch surfing, no better off than they were, that that beat up old van was (at the time) just about the only possession I had left in the world and they wrecked it, that I was using it to look for work and now I couldn't even look for work. The kid never stopped looking bored. Sentence was pronounced: I forget how many months in a juvie camp. His mother started crying, and THEN he showed some emotion: naked hatred towards me, because I got him in trouble by complaining about my van, because I made his momma cry. No, really, that is what he said: "I HATE you! You made my momma cry! Why did you have to do that?!?"

I know this doesn't make things any better for you, and may make it worse, but I have to say it: you wasted your time writing that letter, because you just plain aren't real to them, not a real person with real feelings or needs that have to be considered. The thieves probably care about their own family; they may care about each other; they certainly do not care about anything or anyone else.

On the other hand, I found out through the neighborhood that the kids who stole my van were living in a 2 bedroom apartment with 4 adults and 10 kids; that only one of the 4 adults was able to find work and it was multiple part-time jobs, that between those jobs she didn't make enough to afford a car so she was spending 6 hours a day on buses to work those two jobs; that at any given time at least 2 of the other adults were sitting in waiting rooms of or taking buses back and forth to various charities and government agencies trying to scrape up enough rental assistance, food pantry donations, utility assistance, and help paying medical bills to keep those kids alive. Net result: from before sunrise until around 6 or 8 pm, those kids were supervised by AT MOST one adult, and by the time the adults got home they were so exhausted as to not be much more use to the kids. So what you've really got is 10 kids basically raising themselves, Lord of the Flies style. Times the number of two-bedroom apartments on that block that weren't boarded up. Maybe there's a reason those kids don't feel any sympathy for you; who feels any sympathy for them?

Eileen Wolf
Eileen Wolf

Dear Young Mom (please note that I am not addressing this to the "victim" because you will choose to make yourself a victim day after day, or you will choose very purposefully NOT to identify yourself in that way): I am sorry - so sorry - violence exists and that it happened to you, in such a way that you feel changed and violated and afraid. You need to be heard, and I don't believe that the perpetrators of the crime that happened in your home will ever read, much less *hear*, the letter, much less comprehend the emotion behind it, or the courage it took to put it out there in the world. Please contact St Louis PD Victim's Services, and let them help you. I am sending love and strength to you and your boys as you rebuild...not only your life, but your faith in humanity. It WILL come back...I promise...if you allow it.

Scott Plackemeier
Scott Plackemeier

Sure the likelihood that the criminals will read this (or care) is slim but in addition to being therapeutic for the victim it will hopefully cause others to be more vigilant. Get involved in your neighborhood-- Report suspicious activity, be proactive in preventing crime. Thieves love it when residents throw up their hands and say "what's the point"? It makes their jobs that much easier

Robert Winkelmann
Robert Winkelmann

Move out of the city. Leave it to the crooks and take the bridges out. Their only way in our out should be the Metro East. The smart people left a long time ago.

Peggy Keller
Peggy Keller

I felt the same way when I watched someone steal my van full of stuff when I was moving, but 5 years later I had to be reminded that I once had a vehicle stolen. Completely forgot about it and the things inside. It goes like that. We had a house fire when I was a teen and we lost everything. In the 93 flood, I had put everything I owned in storage and the storage unit was robbed. I would have a hard time telling you today what was actually taken. Pictures, yes. A toaster? Clothes? yes but I can't say specifically which ones. The point is, you forget it all and you even forget that dread and anger you had. It doesn't even bother me now, I just find it interesting. Oh, and the storage unit was in St Charles, the stolen van was in the County.

kaos.eight
kaos.eight

My wife and I were the victim of a home invasion ourselves over the summer and I know precisely how you feel perhaps worse as a matter of fact.  In our case we were home when they kicked down the door and after striking me in the back of the head with the gun they pressed it to my skull while they robbed us blind all while I begged for the life of my wife who was calling 911.  The police never followed up on any of our stuff which in our case was our livlihood as well (cameras, laptop computers, etc.) and even calls to the precint were not returned.  We moved to Webster Groves which is a much safer neighborhood but even now if we hear a strange noise I quickly run for the handgun we purchased after the robbery and I still replay that night over and over in my mind.  We cannot live in an at least world, we must live in a world where we try our best to prepare ourselves for the worst and if we aren't prepared the first time we make DAMN SURE we never let it happen again.  As the proud owner of one firearm who is now looking to purchase his second, and someone who has gone to the range with his wife so that we are both extremely proficient with these pistols, if there is a next time I won't be on the ground begging for the life of my wife I will continue to shoot those foolish enough to enter my sanctuary until every last one takes their last breath or runs like the cowards they are.  I applaud your courage in sharing this!

Zechariah Potts
Zechariah Potts

She obviously did the letter for herself for some type of closure. Common sense should tell you that...

Ash Forrest
Ash Forrest

I think this was more of a therapeutic way of dealing with the incident. I don't think the writer REALLY thinks the robber will read an RFT article.

Keith Carr
Keith Carr

Does she honestly believe the criminals care how she feels?

STL1985
STL1985

As a victim of armed robbery, I empathize with this person. It does change the way you view everything. It's been five years. Time helps, but the whole experience made me a shittier person. More suspicious. Less compassionate. More nightmares.

I thought I was smart by never having anything of value on me. I didn't even have a purse that evening. It was 8 PM, three days before Christmas in an ordinarily busy area. But out of nowhere, two kids came out from behind a dumpster. They made me get on the ground. They pointed two guns at me, asking me "Is this fun? Is this fun?" I'll never forget that. It was like a game to them.

I'll never forget them shoving their hands down my pockets and into my pants, producing nothing for them to take. They were about 15 years old. I didn't go to The Loop for 2 years after it happened. Even now, I shake when I get near Eastgate and Westgate where it happened. 

They never did catch them. The same kids came back all week long and robbed more groups of people.

I love the people who say I should get a conceal and carry permit, as if they have any idea what happens in a robbery situation. There is zero time to pull out any sort of weapon. I don't care if it's a gun or mace. If I'd gone for any of that, I'd have been at their mercy. So please. Quit telling crime victims to pack heat. If someone points a gun at you? You shut up and give them everything they want and pray someone's looking out for you that day. That's how it works.

To all crime victims who feel as violated as I did -- I'm sorry.

And to the trolls who want to talk about race and crime stats and CCW and what we need to do to avoid being victimized...please, just shut up. You can comment after you've had a gun in your face.


12judges
12judges

I think your robbers letter would sound something like this......

Dear victim, I'm the people who robbed you.  I don't give a fuck about who you are, what you feel, and how I've changed you.  I don't care if you're my neighbor.  As a matter of fact there isn't much in this world I do care about and I find your attempt to reason with me and with yourself hilarious.  Actually, we're having a good laugh about it right now and we plan to do it again because you look, sound, and act like a victim.  Do you actually think I don't know what I'm doing is wrong or that stealing your shit makes you feel bad?  Of course I do but, as I mentioned, I don't care.  Maybe the police will get me someday but I know one thing for sure...you won't.  Until the cops or someone who's not a victim get me I plan to continue victimizing you and telling my friends to do the same.  You know why?  Because deep down I hate you and those like you.  I hate that people like you own what you own and I don't think you deserve to have those things.  I've never had those things except to steal them and that's precisely what I'm going to do.  Keep whining and keep writing your notes.  I find them funny.  Keep feeling entitled to a false sense of security that I'll ruin for you.  The more of you there are, the more shit I get to steal.

12judges
12judges

I'm not going to tell you what you need to do to avoid being victimized or feel better about it, that's a personal choice we all have to make.  However, as a person who's had a gun pulled on them, I can tell you that such experiences tend to divide the world into two types of people.  Those who reach for a personal solution to such problems and those who it as an unfortunate and catastrophic happenstance that can't be prevented.  I chose the former and have taken my personal security and that of my family and home as a responsibility of my own and no one elses.  Will it always work?  Maybe not.  But it is certainly better than doing nothing and waiting for it to happen again and owning the powerlessness of a philosophy that sees such things as inevitable.

If you don't think criminals and vicitimizers can't pick victims, unwise or otherwise vulnerable people out of a crowd you're VERY WRONG.  That is precisely what they do and they're very good at it.  Make yourself a hard target.  Very often that doesn't mean having a weapon but instead having the right mindset and attitude.

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