As a single working mother, we all find moments where we realize we have not been paying attention to the things that matter most in life. Last week I was confronted with one of those eye-opening moments. On Sunday, I picked my son up from his father at noon and we headed out for a fun-filled day – planning to meet up with our friends at the beach then head to the movies. We needed to stop and get gas before we could get going. This is where everything changed.

I have pumped gas thousands of times in my life and this time, like so many others, I left my keys, wallet and phone on the center console of my SUV. I shut all of the doors, as my son was in the back seat and I proceeded to put my credit card into the pump and start entering my information to turn the fuel on. As I was doing this, I was not paying attention to what was happening on the other side of my vehicle. I was paying attention to the pump and thinking about the rest of our day. This was a big mistake. While I was occupied on the passenger side of my vehicle, a criminal had silently crept his vehicle alongside my driver’s side door, opened it ever so quietly, and jumped in and grabbed my wallet and phone.

Luckily, this criminal did not drive off with my car, or my son in the vehicle. A few moments later though, my son jumped out of my vehicle screaming that we had been robbed. I learned a number of things that day. The most important thing I learned is that as long as your loved ones are safe, everything is going to be okay. (I really struggled with the idea that my son could have been gone from my life in one instant).

Here are the key takeaways that I have learned in hopes that it will save another mother from going through a frightening experience like this:

  1. First, make sure you have your iPhone set up on Find Your iPhone. When you have this set up and turned on through your computer, the police can track the whereabouts of your phone and locate the perpetrator.
  2. Next, make sure you turn off the child locks in your car if your child is over the age of three. My son is nine and the fact that I had the child locks turned on made him unable to jump out of the car when the criminal entered the vehicle. Luckily, my son hid in the back seat and did not say a word, which ended up yielding him safe.
  3. After having gone through this experience, I would suggest not taking kids to the gas station with you if you are the only adult in the car. The police let me know that poachers sit and wait at gas stations to rob people, typically single women as they pump gas into their cars. It is not worth the scare, so if you can find time to go to the gas station when your child is not with you, do it.
  4. Another tip I learned from the police is to always lock your car doors with your key in hand while you are pumping gas. Makes all the sense in the world, but it never crossed my mind before.
  5. The Police also taught us to always try to memorize the make, model and license plate of a criminal’s vehicle if you find yourself in a situation where there is trouble. By staying silent and capturing this information you can help the police do their job and apprehend the perpetrator.

What To Do When You’re Home From The Crime Scene

Once we had left the gas station, we headed home to meet the police and luckily I had someone call to begin cancelling all of my credit cards.

  1. Keep a current list of all of your active credit cards and having a back up form of ID is critical in situations like this.
  2. This was the first time I felt disappointed that I haven’t bought my son a cell phone. Not having an additional cell phone handy made it very difficult until I got my replacement phone.
  3. Lastly, buyer beware: if you go to the Apple store and ask to buy a phone, you have to pay the whole retail fee vs. calling your phone provider, filing out the proper paperwork and getting a replacement phone shipped to you for a small fee. The only challenge with this is you may find yourself without a phone for a few days, which is headache to say the least.

Again, my biggest takeaway from this whole experience is that your whole life can change in an instant. Never take for granted your loved ones and don’t assume that everyone in the world has good intentions just because you do. Caring for our kids and keeping them safe needs to be a top priority. I am so grateful I still have the chance to do that for mine.

The good news is my son has had the chance to see how the Police can help and protect us when we are in need. He also had the opportunity to learn what to do if faced with a criminal again, and while I am hoping that never ever happens, we will be better prepared for the future in case it does.