Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Dear car thief: I don't hate you

January 21, 2014

Dear Car Thief,

Sometime early yesterday morning you stole our car from our home in Northgate.  It wasn’t a new car, it wasn’t an amazing car, but it was our car.  It was almost 10 years old, but for us it was really nice and it had four brand new tires.  Before you took it, did you notice the two car seats in the back--one for an infant, and one for a toddler?  Yes, those are our kids.  Did you see their books?  Did you see their toys?  Did you see the little animal pads that went around their seatbelts to keep their necks safe and free from scratches?  We’re really careful with our kids because we love them.

When you broke into the driver’s side door, did you notice the Grocery Union sticker in the window?  Did that make you think that maybe we aren’t rich and that someone in our family works really hard to support us?  Did you see the Safeway hat inside on the floor, the empty muffin wrapper, the bottle of Ibuprofen in the glove box?  Did that make you think about how hard the person who drives our car works?

Did you notice (you probably didn’t) the Power Motors sticker on the back of the car?  Did you know that was our grandpa and great-grandpa’s car dealership that was in our family for generations?  Did you know that our family, our cousins, our uncles and aunts, our parents, all grew up running around the “garage,” playing around the cars, getting dirty, and learning how to change the oil?  Did you know this was the last car from that dealership to be in our family before it closed?  No, you probably didn’t know that.  That sticker was important.

Maybe you think you’ve hurt us.  Probably not--I’m sure you don’t think much about it at all.  I don’t even know if you’re still in our car or if you’ve dumped it somewhere.  But you haven’t hurt us.  Shook us up, yes.  But we’re stronger than that.  A car is just a car, and we are a family.  We have food in our bellies, a roof over our heads, and warm beds to sleep in at night.  I hope you have the same, though I wonder.  We’ll get another car; that’s why we pay car insurance every month--something we struggle to cover.

Ironically we had just ordered an iPod transmitter for our car because our last system got stolen a couple weeks ago.  Was that you, too? 

I was so angry with you.  We were exhausted because the kids are sick, my husband couldn’t get to work, it was 5:30am.  But I was angry because you scared our little girl.  She’s 2 and she told me she was worried about the “bad man who takes our car.”  But maybe you’re a female; I don’t know.  But I thought, How dare you scare our children?  How dare you make them feel afraid and sad?  What right do you have to mess with little children’s feelings?  But you know what?  We will heal, and our little girl prayed for you last night, that you would change and become “good not bad anymore.”

The bottom line is, I don’t hate you.  I don’t know if we’ll ever see our car again.  If we don’t, we’ll make it work.  There are other cars, and we have a family that loves us and is helping us in the meantime.  We have friends who love us and have offered us whatever we need until we can get this mess straightened out.  And maybe we will get our car back.  But will it be “our” car anymore?  Or will it smell like smoke, or drugs, or whatever went on inside it?  Will we ever feel comfortable putting our kids back in the car seats (if they come back, too), knowing that anything could have gone on in our car?  Did you have more people in our car?  Did you commit more crimes in our car?  Did other people like you see our kids’ seats, their books, their toys?  I’m not going to lie, that really creeps me out. 

But, no, I don’t hate you.  I’m making the choice to love you instead.  I’m angry with you, but I’ve been angry before and it will pass.  I feel sorry for you because your life has to be pretty bad if this is what you choose to do with it.  I don’t know if you’re addicted to drugs, I don’t know if you’re homeless and just need the money, I don’t know what your situation is, but I’m guessing that our life is probably a lot safer, cozier, and happier, and so for that I’m sorry for you.  I don’t want anybody to have grown up in a house where they’re taught to commit crimes to survive.  I hope you had a good childhood, but I’m guessing it wasn’t the best. 

So here’s what you can do today.  Change.  If you have kids, change for them.  Your kids are going to be the adults that live in the world with my kids--either stealing their cars, or curing their illnesses, teaching their kids, building their houses, whatever.  You have the opportunity to make this stop.  You’re a person who’s made mistakes, just like me, just like everyone.  Maybe your mistakes are a little more obvious, but no worse than anything else that people do behind closed doors.  Take today to change your life and become who you were meant to be. 

I don’t know if you believe in God, but I do.  He’s pretty awesome and He loves you, no matter what you do.  But I imagine He’s pretty upset with the choices you’ve made, just as any good parent would be.  So change.  Change for yourself, change for your kids, change for your family, change for your future.  You can have a cozy home, a safe family, friends who love you and want the best for you; it’s up to you.  If I knew you, I’d say “Here’s the door, come in, have supper with us.”  But again, it’s up to you.  Do you love the life you have now?  Is it what you wanted when you were five and you had dreams about your future?  If not, it’s not too late. 

So we love you and forgive you.  Now it’s time to step up.  You were meant for something better.  I wish you all the best.


Ellie Leonard


  1. Thank you for reminding me to have God's perspective when facing life's challenges--whether they be from "bad" people or someone like I can be at times, someone who chooses to take the low road instead of the higher one. And since we share our faith in God, I'll also join you in praying for this car thief to change.

  2. Dear Karen, for the full story, please watch KOMO 4 news tonight (Monday, 1/27) at 11pm. We were blessed to get news coverage for our situation, so I hope the thief can read my letter!

  3. Ellie,
    I'm sorry this happened. I heard you got your car back and I hope it doesn't creep you out. I believe you are blessed and rich in spirit due to the love and forgiveness in your heart. I hope you and your family find peace in sharing God's love with this person. It's a beautiful statement and I hope they read it. Take care, -J