Last week my daughter’s phone was stolen at school. (Cell phones are allowed at her school, but they must be turned off.) We reported it to the police and decided to keep the phone on, in hopes the person would use it and we would be able to track him or her down and retrieve the phone.
Amazingly, our plan worked.
Last night Chris and Reagan decided to have the phone disconnected and to reestablish service on her old phone. Shortly afterwards a text message came in, saying something like “Pinky Mia, is this still your new phone number?”
We started brainstorming. Who could “Pinky Mia” be? Reagan has a friend from school with a similar name, Miranda, so maybe it’s a nickname? Reagan went to the girl’s MySpace page and “bingo!” the girl has an older sister named “Mia.”
I called the text message phone number and pretended to be Miranda; the young man that answered accepted me as Miranda and mentioned Mia to me and the name of our town. That was the clincher. Miranda was our culprit. (Mia does not attend the grade school in our town, so she wouldn’t have had an opportunity to steal the phone.)
Unfortunately, because Miranda was Reagan’s friend.
This was much worse than the actual phone theft, the fact that Reagan’s friend had betrayed her, had sat by her at lunch while Reagan bemoaned losing her phone, had acted sympathetic. Reagan cried all evening about this.
Lost of trust.
I called the local officer that patrols our little town at night. He stopped by, listened to the whole tale. I felt somewhat idiotic, complaining about something so trivial as a phone, but Reagan’s hurt made it a big deal to me.
It’s also a big deal that a 7th grader would steal, lie about it, and apparently feel no remorse. At any point the girl could have dropped the phone in the school lost and found. But didn’t. Instead she gave it to her older sister to use. She erased all Reagan’s pictures from the phone. Bought ringtones. (Excuse me, STOLE ringtones, because they are charged to our bill).
Back to the police, the officer left our house shortly before 11:00. He went to Miranda’s house, knocked until someone answered, and sat the mom and two daughters down at the kitchen table. He told them he knew they had the phone. That they had two options:
1. Turn it in, no questions asked.
2. To lie, keep the phone and be tracked down when the phone records were subpeoned. At which point charges would be filed.
Miranda went upstairs, brought the phone down and turned it over.
The officer delivered it to us last night and this morning I went to talk to the school principal, as the theft had occured on school grounds.
I do think Miranda should be punished. But, I also feel like she is troubled. Rumor says that she has a less than good home life. My feelings are mixed. A small, mean part of me wants vengeance. Wants her to be ostracized for her actions. To feel as awful as she made my daughter feel.
However, the compassionate part makes me think she deserves some pity. I don’t think the cell phone theft was just about “oh, what a cute phone” but also about what the phone represents-things Reagan has that she does not, a loving home, parents that work hard to take care of her, and stability. This is the part that makes me sad, those non-material things that Reagan has, every child should have, as a given.