Friday, August 16, 2013

Hot Spot: Stroller Theft Alert

 As I was sitting at my daughter's dance class I started looking through various parenting magazines. I came across a clip on stolen strollers. It made me think of a story from last year that made headlines. Two women were targeting mothers with strollers at the Orange County swap meet. One woman would start up a conversation, while the other woman would go through the person's bag and steal her wallet. Jen, my friend, was a victim of something similar. Her wallet was taken from her stroller in the Topanga Mall. You would hope that as a busy mother you could catch a break from something like this! I posed this issue to a group of mothers on a mommy Facebook page and I was surprised at the large response and at how big an issue this is... it really hits close to home.

Unattended Strollers at the L.A Zoo
If you're anything like me you pile everything into your stroller. I load it up with my Petunia Pickle Bottom diaper bag, Beco or Bjorn baby carrier, my oldest daughter's snack bag, various sippy cups, my own water bottle, and if we're going to the park-- a bag full of sand toys. That is a load. I can't find anything in my own stroller, so how does a lurking thief? The answer is sad, but simple-- steal the whole thing.  One hot spot appears to be theme parks. "We go to Disneyland a lot, and have never had any worries about our stroller until it happened to us (it was at CA Adventure, parked outside the Carthay Circle restaurant)," said Aimee. She went on to say, "Disney's customer service was really fantastic though - they loaned us a rental stroller for the rest of our visit, and the security guard felt really bad about my son's blankie, so she comped him a Dumbo pillow pet."  Disney went even further, "when I went back to one store to replace the items he (son) had bought with his Christmas money that were in the stroller, I told them what happened, and they wouldn't let me pay for the replacements!" Not every story has this sort of happy, 'Disney' ending. Lilian had a brand new BOB stolen from Disneyland right outside of Captain EO. "We were already leaving the park at around 7 pm when my son decided he wanted just one last ride," she said. When the ride came to an end so did their great stroller, she said. All of their belongings were in that stroller, including a change of clothing. "To top things off it was getting cold and the park officials wouldn't even offer a sweater to my son until I raised havoc," Lilian said. "Needless to say we never recovered our stroller." One of the local news outlets has reported that an estimated 50 strollers are stolen a year at Disneyland.

But stroller theft doesn't only happen at Disneyland, obviously. It happens in theme parks, zoos, malls, and any place where it is easy to be distracted. Thieves are not stealing them for themselves-- there is serious money to be made. I went on Craig's list to look at average prices for used strollers. I found a brand new Orbit Baby Double Helix for $1,200, Bob Revolution Stroller Car Seat Adapter / Graco - $40, Bugaboo Cameleon with all attachments and more - $550, Uppa Baby Vista Stroller- Excellent Condition - $525, City Select double stroller $700 and more. You can sell the whole stroller or in parts. 

My husband is constantly telling me to zip up my diaper bag, and as a mom watching two kids, I always have an excuse of why I do not...  But as moms, we now need to do more than even that. One magazine suggests to personalize the stroller. This will help identify it and a thief may stay clear of something that stands out. "When I bought my stroller at the Juvenile Shop they recommended that I buy a BuggyGuard lock," says Laura. "(I) use it any time we have to leave it out of sight." For anyone, anytime, we must always be aware of our surroundings, because guess what... someone is keeping an eye on us and our strollers.