29 May 2009

the case of the stolen photo albums

Posted by Teapots Happen

A decade or so ago, someone stole my photo albums – my most treasured possession, the one thing I would have made sure to rescue from my house in a fire. At first I hoped it was just a friendly prank, but after calling pretty much everyone I knew to ask them about it, it was clear that something more foul was afoot.

Weeks later, just when I was starting to get past it, a few of the missing albums were mailed back to me via FedEx – but two of them were never returned.

Needless to say, this caused me no small amount of anguish – my memory is atrocious, and the photos I had were the only connections I had to many wonderful people and times. And I knew that whoever took them had done so KNOWING that they meant so much to me … they had struck to cause maximum emotional damage.

I didn’t have any enemies I could think of – but I did know a few people that I could imagine finding some twisted rationale for the theft.

The main suspect was a girl everyone called “Crazy J” – I knew her well enough to know her mind was more than capable of inventing some justification or motivation for something like this, even while still acting like my friend. But I had no specific reason to think it was her, other than my belief that she was capable of it – and she steadfastly denied any involvement no matter how I asked.

As several years went by, I eventually I gave up on ever getting any answers.

But in late 2006, many years after the albums had vanished, the cold case was broken by coincidence …

I was at the house that Crazy J lived at, the morning after they’d had a huge punk rock house party. The roommates were cleaning up the aftermath, and I sat down on a couch in the living room to stay out of the way. A pile of miscellaneous papers was put on the table in front of me – every stray piece of paper – bills, photos, flyers, artwork – was in the pile, which was several inches thick.

I idly flipped through the pile, looked at a postcard that someone had sent her roommate – and then the next piece in the pile was a photograph, strikingly similar to the image on the postcard:


car-ma happens

red, white, black & blue - car-ma happens

No, the photo wasn’t mine – it was a picture taken for the lawyers, after Crazy J had been injured in a car accident, not long after my photo albums had disappeared.

But the shirt she was wearing in the picture WAS mine – it was an old Ramones tour shirt from 1983 that I’d scored at a garage sale – and which had vanished several years ago. I’d also suspected her in this theft, and asked her about it – but she’d denied it.

I showed Crazy J the picture, and she admitted she’d taken the shirt, and given it to a guy she was dating.

Well, it had been years and years ago, and not that big of a deal (the shirt was an awesome artifact & garage sale find, but it hadn’t fit me well) … so I laughed it off. Water under the bridge.

I enjoyed the coincidence of the two similar images though, and asked if I could keep them.

Then, on the way out of her house, I noticed a photo stuck onto the fridge  –  a goofy, kind of unflattering picture of my friend Annie, posing in my living room. I assumed it was a duplicate of one of my photos (back in the days of film, I’d always gotten two sets printed from all my negatives and given away the doubles.)

Crazy J wasn’t friends with Annie – in fact, she’d been irked years ago when I’d dated Annie, saying she couldn’t understand what I saw in her – so I asked if I could have that photo too, and she agreed.

For some odd reason, it wasn’t til days later, seeing the three items together in my house, that all the pieces came together with a decisive click – the picture of Annie wasn’t just a double of my photo – it WAS my photo.

I suddenly, finally, knew – with perfect clarity – Crazy J had stolen my photo albums, the same way she’d stolen my Ramones shirt.

It isn’t rational at all, but I also ‘knew’ that I’d been led to the clues for a reason – and I just couldn’t shake the feeling that the saluting postcard woman was the smiling face of the universe, letting me know who’dunnit.

I was glad to find that I had no anger, no bitterness or negativity left to work through – thanks in large part to the even-more-irrational but equally unshakable notion that her car accident had been “car-ma” for the malicious theft.

Moreso,  I was grateful for the closure that had finally come – which not only solved a long-standing mystery, but let me know that Crazy J was not a person I should ever trust or consider a friend.

Thanks for the tip, Universe!


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No Responses to “the case of the stolen photo albums”

  1. I like the way you handled that. I’ve just been talking to someone about how to deal with suspected deception from someone when there is no proof, so this was timely for me. I think it’s always a good idea to listen to one’s intuition. Even if the event didn’t happen, the suspicion itself may be an insight into your relationship with that person.



  2. Synchronicity indicating perp and motive, too. Nice sleuthing!


    Trish MacGregor

  3. Great story!