Our Family’s (2nd) Year in the South of France
Kids and Castles - Our year with kids in the South of France

Crime in the Village!

It was during our usual school day morning rush that I noticed a pink notebook lying in the driveway. It took a while to register that the notebook actually belonged in my purse, and then it took a few more moments for my brain to understand that SOMETHING BAD WAS GOING ON.

Lying in the driveway was my empty wallet, next to my empty purse, with various pens, lipstick, paper, and the other stuff that used to be inside the purse. What was not there was money or credit cards.  We’d forgotten to lock the door that night and someone had come into the house while we were sleeping and stolen my purse.

It took almost an hour to cancel all the stolen ATM and credit cards, and then we called the police to report the robbery. I frankly didn’t expect much. The cards were canceled, it wasn’t that much money, they hadn’t taken my driver’s license, and all other important papers were still in the house.

But the gendarmes were impressive. They were at the house about 45 minutes after we called, and took the whole thing very seriously. They asked if I’d touched the purse and were disappointed that I had contaminated the evidence. Of course I know you never touch anything at a crime scene, but it even never occurred to me that they would bother for a petty crime like this.

JM was checking around the perimeter of the house with one of the policeman, and the other one asked me to show him were I had found the purse that morning.  With bad French and lots of charades I indicated where I had found everything. That took us to the end of the driveway where I stopped, but he kept heading across the road to the field on the other side.

Just like a modern Inspector Clouseau he found more clues!

He showed me the tire tracks in the field where the thief had parked, and then said something that sounded like “let’s find your credit cards”. I thought probably I hadn’t understood his French or maybe he hadn’t understood that THE CARDS WERE STOLEN. They were gone, and I had canceled them.  But he followed the tracks around the field and a few minutes later voila! we found all of the missing cards.

Field were the thief parked

Of course, the cards were all useless at that point, but they were not contaminated. The police pulled out a massive metal toolbox-thing. One of them took a swab while that other took a picture of the swab being taken. I have watched enough police dramas to realize they were establishing a chain of evidence. They asked for our contact information both here and in California so they could reach us when they found the thief. I liked their confidence that they would actually catch the guy.

In the end, we lost the equivalent of a couple hundred euros, and I have the inconvenience of a couple of weeks of living without my own credit and ATM cards. It could have been much worse. If they had taken my driver’s license or gone further into the house and found the laptops or (I can’t even imagine) gone into the girls’ room…

Thankfully we were robbed by thieves that were not vindictive. But from now on I will store the backup credit/ATM cards in a different location than the main ones. And we will carefully lock the doors every night!

10 Responses to “Crime in the Village!”

  1. Lise Patenaude says:

    It is nice to know that the police take it seriously and that they are not “blasé” about the whole thing. At least, they have given you confidence in their work.

  2. Val says:

    How odd is it that it’s reassuring that the thieves were content to simply be thieves. I’m so glad everyone is okay and really am impressed by the police. If/when you see them again, give them a “merci” from me for taking care of you.

  3. patti says:

    Wow. I know we’re not supposed to contaminate the crime scene, but in our world, a stolen purse barely registers as a crime, never mind as a scene! I’m very impressed.

  4. em says:

    So sorry this happened, and very glad it was as minor as it was. Really not fun.

    On a less serious note, I really don’t think “like a modern day Inspector Clouseau” is quite the connotation you were going for! Commissaire Maigret, maybe. Not Clouseau.

    • Diane H. says:

      Hi em,

      I thought the “Inspector Clouseau” thing might be insulting, but the gendarmes said it themselves. Although I’ve never seen the actual Pink Panther movie – only the cartoon – so maybe I should be more aware of my cultural references before making them.

  5. Shirley says:

    Holy moly! Glad to hear you’re all right and that, in the end, not much suffering occurred. What did the policeman look like? Whenever I think of a French police guy now, I think of that guy from the Transporter movies — he is so awesome! He was also a policeman in the French film “Tell No One” (Ne Le Dis a Personne, I think). The IMDB says his name is Francois Berleand.

    Anyway, I hope they catch the bad guys. We had friends here whose home was robbed. They found their stuff on Craigslist and gave all the info to the police — practically handing the bad guys over to the cops — and the police still failed to catch them.

    • Diane H. says:

      Hi Shirley, that’s horrible about your friends stuff. Doesn’t make you feel safe, does it?

      I’m afraid our policemen weren’t super hot – I know exactly who you mean. They were nice enough, but wore a blue color that was particularly unflattering. Surprising for a country that in general has so much taste in clothes.

  6. em says:

    Well, Clouseau did generally capture the bad guy in the end, if only accidentally, so if you look at it that way…


    When we were robbed, the thieves took the stuff to a pawn shop in another city. Luckily, we had the serial numbers from all the big electronics (on account of we had kept the boxes in anticipation of the next move, not because we were particularly clever), so the police did actually catch them. Some of them anyway. More concrete evidence than a Craig’s list posting, I guess?

  7. patti says:

    You haven’t seen the actual movie??? I highly recommend it. 🙂

  8. Aunt L in Ont says:

    So glad everyone’s safe.

    Tho it says TONS about your village that you ‘forgot to lock your door’!!! I’m pretty sure that never happened in the good old US of A.