Williamsburg's Homeless & Indigent

P.O. Box 366, Lightfoot, VA 23090
Office: 757-561-3255
"Assisting people in re-gaining hope and a better way of life."

Saturday, November 06, 2004

The Good, The Bad & The Liar

Occasionally in life you meet people and categorize them as a nice person or a mean person, but rarely does one say "That person is a liar" when they first meet. Usually it isn't until you have had several encounters with a person who lies before one would think to categorize them as a liar (we just say "Oh they told a lie"). Even the people who are homeless type people as good or bad, just as they are typed (although people tend to type those who are homeless as bad, no matter what).

Shortly after school was out in June, a mother of 4 children came to me because he oldest son could not live with her. "He a good boy and just graduated high school but my landlord won't let him stay and his grandmother is too sick to take care of him at her house. Can he stay here?" We discussed it and it was only going to be for the summer because he had a scholarship for college in the Fall (he wanted to go into criminal justice). It's sad enough when an adult is homeless, but an 18 year old is worse. His mom dropped his stuff off and then took him to work. He seemed hard working as he had 2 jobs: Busch Gardens and Water Country USA.

Over time we talked more about his scholarship and dreams of college. The money from work he was saving for school. The scholarship turned out to be a partial grant and he still needed $4500 by his first semester. We set out a coin jar and whenever we had extra change, it was dropped in for him. People who came for dinner or to hang out did the same. They thought "He has a chance so let's help". In August he found a less expensive school that had the same program and he only needed $600 extra for it. Although this school wasn't as good, it was a better solution to him. A few days later, the change jar came up missing. We were mad and this young man was sad because he lost at least $100+. So we started to rebuild the money.

Then one night after work, he came to me for help in regards to a vehicle. "It is going to be hard to get to work and school by taking the bus" he said. We had just been given a vehicle that needed a little bit of work I told him and would be picking it up shortly. "No I found a car, I just need help with a co-signer and down-payment" to this I replied "Do I look like a tree in the back yard with fruit of dollars hanging down? I'm sorry but we can't do that." He had already found an apartment with a friend and his mom was helping him get furniture for it since school would be starting soon...so we thought.

The next day was United Way's "Day of Caring". We had signed up for 5 projects and I had to get our homeless friends over to each project. The last one for transport, we needed some tools. I asked my husband where the ladder was in case we needed it at the project "It's in the jeep" he replied. I looked around and asked "Where's the jeep?" I thought he had moved it cuz of being in the way. Nope, it was stolen. Later I found out that the young man didn't go to work, but out of town to work on a project he was doing. He left at the same time my jeep was stolen. After I did the police report, I called him on his cell phone "Did you take my jeep?" "No I wouldn't do that! Look at how much you have helped me." "Well, you need to get back here and talk with the police. Whose car are you in right now?" quickly he replied "My friend's car he gave me a ride. But I can't talk to the police." OK, now I knew so I called his mom and we were on 3 way. She kept asking "Did you take their vehicle cuz I think you did!" Well, I haven't seen him since.

We have been constantly praying about the jeep and it's return because even though it was stolen, I still had to make the payments. While I was away in Indiana, Geoff called me and said "They found our jeep and it was 'T' who took it!" The Deputy called me and explained what happened, our jeep was in a towing storage in Williamsburg accruing daily. So far it was up to $750 in fees! The garage would not budge. When I came back, I had to start working on getting the jeep and finding out the whole story. So here are the facts of what happened (keep in mind when the jeep was stolen, the person who took it got the keys out of the drawer where we hide them):
*on Sept. 9th,
*the jeep was stolen around 2 am,
*'T' left to go out of town around 2 am the same day,
*on Sept. 19th 'T' was stopped in Surry for speeding, expired registration and no operators license, and he was in my jeep
*on Oct. 8th, 'T' was again pulled for stealing registration stickers for the jeep

At this point, because they couldn't find who owned the jeep (the VIN was never ran), the jeep went into a towing storage garage. A week later, the garage owner did an abandoned car title search to claim ownership. On the 25th of Oct. it came back that the jeep had been stolen. That's when they contacted us. The judge issued a warrant for Grand Theft Auto. Meanwhile, 'T' called me and asked if I pressed charges against him and I told him that I hadn't (actually the police did). Then he said "I didn't steal your jeep!" so I asked "Then why did you get stopped twice driving my jeep?" "Patti, I rented it from somebody in Williamsburg!" "Well, you better give the police their name but I don't believe you. It is a little odd that you lived with us, knew where the keys were, my jeep comes up missing the same time you leave and you are stopped twice driving my vehicle!" I called the deputy to let them know 'T' had called me and they sent somebody out to serve him with the warrant, but it was too late, he had left. Turns out he told the deputy when the jeep was impounded that his brother bought it for him (although one of his brothers is 16 and the other 13). Monday on the way to court, the deputy called me to let me know they had arrested 'T'. So I turned around and came home.

Back to the drawing board of getting my jeep out. The garage owner refused to let me have it without paying. So, the pressure was on. I called the newspapers and TV stations, the deputy, the clerk's office at court, the victim assistance program, our senator and delegate's offices. The deputy was a great help in assisting me as well as everyone else I called. Yesterday, the owner of the towing company called and said "I have a one time offer for you. Bring $455 to me by 5:30 today along with proof of registration and it is yours again. This vehicle has been such a pain and I have had so many people calling me, it isn't worth it." So then I had to jump! I had to get the $455, which a friend helped me out, and get to the DMV to get everything processed and back to the garage by 5:30. Finally, I have my car back but 'T' did a lot of damage to it. All of my husband's tools are gone, cell phones are missing, the back bumper is missing but prayerfully it will be resolved when we go to court.

The irony of all this is that I have to testify against a homeless person (nonetheless a 'child'). With all his lies, he is looking at 1-20 years when all he needed to do was just bring my jeep back and he could have gone on with his life. Although I am elated to have the jeep back, I still can't help but to feel bad for what road 'T' has chosen.


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