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Beware the swarm

Posted: September 5, 2009 5:29 p.m.
Updated: September 6, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Two families joined me in Valencia in having a garage sale on a recent weekend.
We placed an ad in the paper and posted signs.

Early Saturday morning, we started setting up tables and putting out items for sale.

Before the first table was up, cars were circling. Terrific, we thought. We'll have a good turnout.
Before we were finished taking items out of the boxes, we were swarmed. And, unfortunately, not in a good way.

There are people ready to take advantage during setup. I noticed a woman pluck off a pair of earrings I'd taped to a box.
As I asked her if she'd like to buy them, two others swarmed me, taking my attention off her.

By the time I'd turned back, she and the earrings were gone. So was a beautiful leather purse.

I'll never forget the look on the woman's face as she took my earrings - hard, cold and calculated.

My sale partners experienced the same thing. Several other items were stolen.

We all felt violated because we were. There were so many of them surrounding us all at once, the language barrier adding to the confusion they created to cover their thefts.

Yes, there were lovely people as well with smiles and laughs. But that early-morning swarm is something we want to warn everyone about. I don't know the solution. Armed guards? Videotape the event?

I'm a little more sensitive because a few months ago, maids I'd hired from a maid service stole money from my son's shelf.

A few weeks later, I discovered they'd also stolen a valuable antique diamond ring from a jewelry box hidden under my bed.

When I filed a police report, the officer said they received countless calls from people ripped off by these maids, many of whom had warrants out for their arrest. Who knew?

The company claimed it was bonded and asked what proof I had that it was their maids. They had me there, as I had no videotape of the actual act.

The officer said people are crazy to let these maids into their homes unless they follow and watch every move, in which case you might as well do the cleaning yourself.

The dire economic situation is only making these people more desperate. Don't lose your trusting nature ... just lock your doors and keep your eyes open.


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