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Business Management

Gettin’ Robbed

An irreverent look at the lowest of lows: getting robbed.

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As I write this month’s column, I’m just coming off of yet another experience of getting kicked while I’m down — my dealership was robbed (again). This now makes five such occurrences in the past ten years, which is a little surprising when you consider our rural location. I guess if I’d built my store in a major metro area or on the wrong side of the tracks, I might expect this sort of thing to happen more often. The truth is, the people from the "wrong side" just come to our side, steal a truck and take our stuff. It is annoying, expensive and couldn’t have happened in a worse economy.

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This was not the first time we were hit by an organized theft ring out of St. Louis (about 60 miles away). The first time, they stole a semi and loaded 20 crated ATVs with their own forklift. About two years later, they stole a panel truck from a factory down the road and literally crashed it through a gate there. They then cut our fence and pushed over stacks of crated ATVs, partially assembling the ones they wanted, and they then wheeled them around the building to the stolen truck beyond. Fortunately, a deputy was heading home from work that night and saw them out there. He busted seven guys and one very mouthy woman who ended up ratting out a ring responsible for 17 similar dealership robberies, along with thefts of Wal-Mart semi-trailers full of goods. Crazy stuff.

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This time, the morons came back one week later and tried to steal three commercial mowers from a power equipment dealer down the road from us. Again, one of the local cops saw them and chased them down. They’d stolen a U-Haul and several other vehicles already that night, and the guys responsible sang like canaries on crack, giving up a whole bunch of names at the top. I guess the city boys don’t like being locked up out here in our rural jails for very long; they all tend to talk pretty quick when they’re sharing a cell with Big Bubba.

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For me, the worst robbery experience I’ve had was the one I call our "crappy robbery." It is so-named because I was actually working late at the dealership that fateful night and stopped to use the bathroom while it all went down. There I was, minding my own business, reading the daily paper on my throne when I heard voices through the wall. At first, I thought I’d left a radio on, but then I heard a four-wheeler start up!

Now, let me just tell you, if you’ve never jumped from a toilet with your pants around your ankles and tried to run out the door, you’re really missing one of life’s great experiences. I made it about three feet before my boxer-tied feet tripped up, and I ended up hitting the concrete bathroom floor with a huge knock to the head.

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After getting my pants back up, I ran to a rear exit in the Service Department that leads to our lock-in area. Just as I reached for the door handle, I heard several guys yelling to one another and three more engines firing up. Somewhere in my mind, a red flag went up. "I’m about to be face-to-face with at least four guys who are stealing from me, and I’m totally unarmed!" Fortunately, I let go of the door handle and ran to get my hands on some steel bravery from my truck on the side of the building.

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Long story short, the guys rode off on four quads, one of which they "ran out of gas" and left in the middle of a county highway. Turns out they hadn’t turned the gas petcock to the "on" position. I was fairly impressed they’d made it that far. By morning, the police had rounded up all five guys responsible, one of which was an employee who we’d let go the week prior. Big shocker there, I guess.

Anyway, I tell you about these episodes because I don’t see things getting better anytime very soon. As we all struggle to keep the doors open in a horrible economy, we’ve got to keep security in mind. With 10% of the populace out of work, there’s double the chance that someone will try something at some point (remember, unemployment was closer to 5 % just two years ago). The thing is, you’ve got to be aware. You can’t always stop it, so you’ve got to have your cameras working, your alarm system serviced and your relationship with the neighbors at its best. If you’re gonna get your stuff back, you gotta rely on witness accounts.

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The biggest thing to remember is, don’t reach for that door handle and put yourself in a worse position than you can get out of. I’m glad I didn’t. It’s just not worth it. After all, we pay insurance for a reason, so as much as you’d like to kick some ass at the time, it’s not worth having some punk blow you away. You’ll get the stuff back or you won’t. Either way, you’ll be alive to find out. Oh, and also keep in mind that, if you get caught with your pants down, it’s a good idea to pull them up before you try to run. Trust me on that.

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