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Public theft, bad neighbourhoods, and dolly safety: worries vs. realism

Sep 24, 2010

    1. While discussing a meetup venue, one person said that their mother suggested they shouldn't take their dolls there because it was a bad neighbourhood. While that particular venue is actually in an artists' walk in a now-gentrified location, it got me thinking about dolly safety and how much we should worry about having a doll stolen at a meetup in a public space.

      Looking at the various possible causes of theft, how likely is each one?

      -Passerby stealing dolls because they're expensive. This is the main worry when people suggest "taking dolls to a bad neighbourhood". On the other hand, dolls aren't laptops; most people have no idea they're worth a lot. Even if they guess from the craftsmanship that the dolls were expensive items, they wouldn't know where to go to resell a doll. If they put it on ebay, unless they already knew all about BJD and what search terms to provide, no interested parties would find it. Stealing a doll is a lot of risk for an item that the criminal isn't sure how to turn into profit, and how likely is it that some random thug would know how to succesfully resell a doll? So I think this isn't a very realistic fear, not until BJD awareness goes mainstream.

      -Passerby stealing a doll because they want to keep it. The chances that a random BJD collector will happen to walk by are fairly low. Hypothetically, someone might decide they want it because it's pretty, or for their child, not knowing what it is. In our experience, though, is that what people do? If they don't know how expensive it is, they'd most likely just ask us where we got it. If they do realise it's expensive, perhaps they'd think of stealing it, but would they go to so much risk for an item they realise is valuable just because they want it? It's certainly possible, but it seems unlikely that some random passerby, unaffiliated with the group, would just happen to want a doll badly enough to steal it.

      -Passerby stealing a doll as a prank, for irony, or because they hate dolls. This sounds to me like the most probable scenario for theft: someone who doesn't realise how much these dolls are worth, or respect that they might mean something to someone, might think it's no big deal to steal a doll. I think this is equally likely to happen in a good neighbourhood or a bad one: someone just not thinking through the fact that taking a doll is stealing and therefore a serious crime. Destructive teenagers, immature adults, people who just don't realise-- or care-- that a doll might be precious to its owner, and not something they should just goof around with as if it didn't matter.

      -People from our own community. I hate to bring that one up, but it's possible. However, it seems fairly unlikely, because of the sense of community and the desire to socialise acceptably at a meetup. All the doll people I've met have been super-nice so far. Moreover, we all face the same risk of our dolls being taken; at the meetups I've attended, people sort of watched out for each other's dolls as if they were babysitting each other's kids. Someone was always keeping an eye on the dolls as a group. On the other hand, it's not impossible either. I've heard of someone having a doll stolen at Dolpa. And our own community actually knows what they're worth, has reason to want them, and knows how to resell them as well. I'm not saying we should distrust each other; I'm just not leaving the possibility out. The thing with this is that it could happen at a private meetup as well as a public one, or in any kind of space.

      -Absent-mindedness. It's not really theft because there's no intent, but I'm always worried that someday I'm going to leave a prop or a wig or something behind. A public venue means a higher chance that a lost item will never be seen again, whereas at least if it's in someone's home, someone's probably going to find it afterward and can return it to you. On the other hand, again, neighbourhood doesn't make a difference.

      So... it looks to me like a bad neighbourhood doesn't sound like an especially risky place to bring one's dolls. (Of course, one's car, wallet, and other such things that might come along to a doll meet are a separate matter.) There is risk, but the causes of risk that sound most likely are probably unrelated to the type of neighbourhood; the traditional "crime in a tough neighbourhood" worries aren't as likely to apply to dolls. We may have spent a lot of money and they may be our treasured possessions, but from an outsider's perspective, they aren't big-ticket items. Ultimately, too, the best way to keep something from getting stolen is not to let it out of your sight.

      Thoughts? Perspectives I may have missed? Experiences from anyone who's had a doll stolen?
       
    2. Well my dolls on her way so I cant say I've had many experiences but really from what I can tell, the doll's arent known to be that expensive except by those of us in this community.

      And also it's not easy to walk off with some of them. You cant really hide a 60cm doll in your coat... unless you have a really big coat.

      The most likley ones are probably the passerby and the prank.

      As far as taking the doll because its "pretty, my little girl would like that" while that could happen the likely hood is that: If it's with a bunch of other dolls, you guys are right there, doll is with you, their not going to take it. I wouldnt leave a doll un attended but people are far less likely to just grab it out of your hand and take it home to their kid. Like wise if they see your doll sitting with other dolls brought to the meet, thats a pretty good indication that theres some sort of event like thing going on and some one will notice if one goes missing. That and really, from the meet I was at no one really left the dolls alone. We were playing with them, and the ones on the table well we were pretty much at that table.

      The prank is the biggest worry but heres where you have strength if its a meetup : They fear packs. By yourself, they may grab and throw/destroy. Group, their not just going to storm in there, it's much easier to handle one person than it is 5 or more. But like wise you dont want to take your doll like lets say to a rowdy place full of people who you know wont have respect for it.

      I think you'll be fine honestly.

      for me my fear with dolls being stolen mistreated is me saying the price. For instance We have a school overnight in Ashland with my drama troupe. I dont want to leave my doll at home because I don't trust my dogs or my mother about it. But like wise I have the dilemma of what to tell my friends. She would be hard to hide since shes 60cm, so I could tell them about her, maybe leave out the price in fear of thieves, but then risk them disrespecting her because they think it's just an average doll. Alternatively if I tell them the price they may be respectful and not chuck her out the window, but then I do run the risk of her being stolen by some one who wants to make a buck. (In the end I decided shes going to stay at a friends house)
       
    3. (Adding an anecdote of my own, since I asked for experiences-- Several months ago, we had our apartment broken into, two laptops and an iPod stolen. The Super-Dollfie-branded bag with our brand-new doll, still in box, purchased not hours ago, and sitting in the way where the thief would have had to walk past to get to our laptop-- that was totally ignored. We couldn't help but think it was ironic; a second-hand iPod isn't worth anything like as much as the doll, but the burglar had absolutely no idea.)

      ETA: Cheshare, you have a good point about packs of people scaring them off. A large doll meet is going to intimidate away thugs as well as pranksters.
       
    4. I admit that having one of my girls being stolen is a very real fear of mine, taking one to a meet where I know people are well into BJDs is okay. So far, I've been to a Seattle meet twice. Both times I've driven quite a distance, as it takes nearly two hours for me to get there. I don't just go there for a meet - usually my brother wants to hit a certain store, or I wish to take a day out of town. For the most part, the people I've met at the meet have been wonderful and there seems to be no risk of loosing her if I let her out of my sight for a moment. Granted, that doesn't mean that I wish to.

      But, taking Nocturne to Ivars down on the waterfront is an experience. She loves the camera and many people took her picture as we walked the pier.

      Honestly, I am more afraid of loosing my car than I am of loosing my doll. This is also coming from someone who has had their house broken into. Our family owns a few old swords. They look beat up, but are quite valuable. When our house was broken into, all these swords were moved. They were thrown about (there are about six total), however none were taken. My wooden boken was stolen, as was my laptop and (strangly enough) multiple bras. None of the expensive swords were taken. Each one was probably worth more than the electronics and jewelry that were stolen. Just, ironic.
       
    5. Doll theft is really horrible, and I feel so sad for anyone it's happened to...

      I feel the majority of doll theft occurs within the BJD hobbyist community. Burglars and the like typically steal items they want, need, or can easily sell for a profit. They try to steal these things as quickly as possible and ignore items they're unsure of. Even classic antique porcelain dolls are probably too fragile and uncertain for a thief to target - after all, their goal is to get in, take what they need, and get out as soon as possible.

      The situation that makes me most nervous is taking dolls to anime conventions. Since the hobbies overlap, there are many people attending that know the approximate (or exact!) value of a doll. Not to mention that at a convention the traffic into a hotel room can be unpredictable - I've heard of 10 people sharing a room intended for no more than 4! Then there are room parties and the like... If you're displaying them at an artist's alley table or carrying them with you it becomes even more complicated.

      It isn't that people from the BJD hobby or the anime hobby are untrustworthy, but when conventions can have upwards of 30,000 people attending, it's just not wise to assume that they're all of good character... I've personally known artists who've had thousands of dollars worth of original pieces stolen, so it can be a more hazardous environment than some might think. :(
       
    6. I know several of our members have had the misfortune of... I don't know the best way to put this, but the worst possible thing happening. I've heard of it occuring both here and in Japan. Not to mention that entire... tragedy at Dollpa 3.

      It's a little depressing, mortifying, and infuriating, but I believe theft is most likely to occur within the community.
       
    7. I would have agreed with that if it wasn't for me reading so many stories of people who have pretty much demanded that someone give up their doll because their child likes it, and trying to grab it too. I read a story of someone that did steal it and insisted that they'd had it the whole time - they had no idea what type of doll it was at all. Although it's rude and socially unacceptable - and it probably depends on where you are at the time - I think the second type of theft you listed might be one of the more common ones.
       
    8. I'm always terrified of my dolls being stolen or broken. My biggest fear is someone spiteful, doll-hating, or just cruel grabbing a doll and throwing it or something to break it :\ even though it's probably unrealistic, especially in my neighborhood.

      I do agree that a lot of kinds of theft are unlikely to happen with the dolls simply by virtue of their being less well-known items, and a lot of thieves wouldn't know their value; further, since they're specialty, hobby items, a thief looking for money wouldn't be able to sell them at a pawn shop or something - they'd have to go out of their way to learn about them, their value, and so on... your average thief isn't going to do that.

      Which... doesn't mean it's not still a valid fear. Especially at cons and the like, keeping an eye and a hand on your doll(s) at all times is best! I worry if I step across the meetup space from one of my dolls, and at least make sure I always have a clear line of sight to one of my dolls if I leave them on the table while I socialize.

      gloombox: The hotel room situation is a big reason I'd hesitate before bringing my dolls to certain conventions. It's less of an issue now (I have a best friend with whom I would room solely if I went to a convention), but when I was younger, I went to an anime convention and shared my hotel room with my brother and a friend. I came back one day to seven strange boys in my hotel room... and no sign of my brother! I almost died. I had all my valuables in that room, but my brother didn't care because he blindly "trusted" this group of men he'd only just met at the con!

      Luckily, nothing was taken, but I was so angry with my brother. I told him expressly that no one I did not know was to enter that hotel room, and especially no one was to be in there without him there to supervise and make sure nothing got stolen. :| Regardless, it was the last year I shared a hotel room with him - I found a friend to split with the next year. I can't imagine the stress I would have been under if I'd had dolls back then! Dx just thinking about it stresses me out!
       
    9. I tend to feel safer in meetup situations where there's a lot of people (safety in numbers) and lots of eyes to keep the dollies safe. I would think that being alone would make one more of a target. Of course some places will be more doll friendly than others for a variety of reasons whether it be space, rambunctious people, inappropriateness etc, and a certain amount of common sense should be applied. However, I'm not terribly paranoid about it. I also know a lot of people in the meetup groups I go to and know that they won't let anything happen to my resin guys and girls. When it comes to places like cons, I bring dolls but don't let them out of my sight due to the number of people and the fact that more will know something of what abjds are and that they're actually valuable. A little extra caution in that situation is needed.
       
    10. Honestly, I'd feel a lot safer carrying my doll in a 'rough' neighborhood than in a con. I'm not going to lie- cons are the place where I think dolls are most likely to get stolen. I recently went to a big con and the abundance of kids and generally undisciplined people who'd actually know what a bjd is made me extremely apprehensive to take mine out with me. In a bad neighborhood I can guarantee you that your doll would probably be the last thing to get stolen- whether the thief had kids or not. But in a con, a kid with grabby hands is all it takes- there aren't many parents around, and the ones that are there would very likely assist in the theft were it to come to that because they'd think "well, it's just a doll." Not to suggest that it's only kids who'd steal a doll, but they are the most likely candidate at bigger cons- simply because one expects adults to know better. Still, Cons bring out the crazy in everyone it seems, so I wouldn't put it past an adult either. Meetups are more controlled environments I should think, and chances are everyone knows someone there, so no one's getting out with anything they didn't come with. I personally believe that dolls are absolutely safe from everyone not involved in the anime or bjd fandoms. Anyone else really wouldn't take the trouble unless a small child got hold of it and it'd be too much trouble to make them give it back.
       
    11. I have to add "Post Office Employee Theft" due to the fact most doll companies have the word "Doll" in them - and we all know what 'doll' tends to imply (i.e., child's toy). It's something I worried about with my post office, since mine came from Dollmore, being that our stuff has had the tendency to not arrive...ever, in the past. Now, they're too lazy to bring it.

      But it just takes one employee to see the word 'doll', think it's a child's toy, and snatch it for their kid.

      I understand people stealing them for prank reasons, but if people hate dolls...why are they even going near them?

      Plus, I think people in bad neighborhoods would probably stay far away from you: if you're an adult, or older kid, taking a doll around with you everywhere...they'd probably think you were a tad crazy.
       
    12. I honestly think the biggest risk of doll theft from someone not in the hobby is probably when the dolls are in a carrier bag- because it could be mistaken for a video camera, musical instrument, or other similar valuable item. Of course, a BJD can be just as valuable as cameras, computer equipment, etc. but only if you know what it is and who to sell it to.
       
    13. In a ghetto sort of area like we have around the SF Bay (Oakland, Richmond, etc) I know I've been hassled more often than not by groups of "young ruffians" simply out to harass and terrorize regular folk. Plus you get all the simply crazy cracked out homeless people in San Francisco and you have a whole lot of people who don't need any kind of reason to steal your doll. I find being female alone is enough to inspire such harassment. I also find that standing out as LITTLE as possible reduces the chances of harassment, but carrying a doll through a neighborhood like that and I'd be most afraid of someone knocking it out of my hands just to get a few laughs from their thug friends...

      Even my own neighborhood makes me nervous, which is why I live in a gated community. But I've had to carry two SD+ sized doll packages around the corner to the post office recently and in the ten minutes it takes to get to my post office I was sweating with fear that someone would see the package and either harass me or try and steal it just because.

      Oftentimes these people don't appraise your valuables, they snatch what they can and if they find something they think is worthless they just throw it in a dumpster. Sometimes you're lucky enough to find it again at the local flea market but truly the only safe thing to do is not bring anything valuable through a bad neighborhood.
       
    14. This made me laugh so much. It's to true. People tend to stay away from the crazies, goodness knows I do.

      I don't have a doll yet, so I to can't speak from experience but I'd have to agree that theft is more likely to happen within a community, and I think that goes for any small community. I technically live in what some would/do call a bad neighborhood, and I've never gotten harrassed for anything. I think when it comes to bad neighborhoods you'd have to worry less about your doll getting stolen since as was already mentioned the common thief isn't going to know the dolls value. And if anything the doll would just be picked up as a common plaything if it was just left somewhere which I'm sure most of us would be very careful not to do.
       
    15. thats scary o.o
      to know you paid soo much money for a doll
      and in one second it can be stolen and its gone forever.
      i advise people to keep an eye on their dolls at all times, even if you believe
      its in a safe place at a meeting or con and you could leave it without much attention,
      you never know what can happen, i read that some girl left her doll on a couch i believe in the bathroom
      and while in the bathroom fixing her hair or whatever she was doing 3 other girls came in and later left
      and her doll was gone, she got word from one of the girls that they took the doll to the lost and found
      but no matter how many times she asked to look in the lost and found they said they didnt have anything.
      so you never know what can happen.
       
    16. One of the ways to keep your dollies safe is to do the buddy system! If you know you're going to a meet/con, find the Thread for that Meet (if available) and talk to the people there! When you all finally meet in person, check out each other's dolls. This will help them remember you, and not only keep your dollies safer, but also help to make new friends! =3
      I've noticed that since most theft is within the community itself, keeping up-to-date pictures of your dolls helps too!

      I'm just wondering if we can chip dolls like we chip laptops. Placing one INSIDE the doll, like in the torso piece would be pretty handy. In the unfortunate event that one of our dolls ever DOES become stolen, we could track it, and reunite it with it's owner!
      Sounds like a BUSINESS VENTURE to me! >D terhahaha!
       
    17. Unfortunately, it would be a very impractical and short-lived business venture, as already discussed here. Rather than explain again, I'll just copy and paste my explanation from that other thread:

      What you're talking about is called an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tag. Some of them DO require a power source (they're "active," and actually transmit a signal a short distance), which needs to be either recharged or replaced on occasion, but the more common "passive" RFID tags (the kind used in proximity reader ID badges for access control in many places of employment, at the doors to many retail shops to alarm when things are stolen, and in those proximity-capable credit and debit cards that have been introduced over the last few years) are not powered at all, and are simply read by the device they're designed to work with. This device (whatever it happens to be in a given application) checks the tag's ID against its database, and if it finds a match it does whatever it's designed to do, whether it be open a door, set off an alarm if someone walks through before it has been "deactivated," look up someone's identity and citizenship information (electronic passports do this), allow someone through a tollbooth (this is how "fast lanes" work, though they're probably battery-assisted passive RFID's, not truely passive, since they need to transmit over a slightly greater distance than passives are capable of), clock someone in or out of work, identify a pet and pull up contact information on the pet's owner, or create a link to a bank account and allow a purchase to be made using the funds there. What it does depends entirely on the database.

      I work with passive RFID's in my job (the unlocking-doors and clocking-people-in-and-out-of-work) kind, and while they can be damaged, they're fairly durable and very small (the largest part is the antenna, and its size AND shape are both variable), and it would be very, very easy to conceal one inside a doll, either by casting it into the resin or simply by adhering it to the inside of the doll itself. However, as others have said, it would be useless without a database to check it against (which would require maintenance, and considerable funding) and also someone who had both access to the database AND an RFID-reader that was compatible with it, and also had the inclination to use them to check it. Also, it would require that the person with all this access and equipment have the doll actually in their possession. Essentially, they could be used for identification, but not for tracking and location.
       
    18. Post office theft wouldn't be so much at the post office, they have cameras everywhere and it's a Federal offense most won't risk a decent good job for, the only thefts I've heard of have been by carriers. Mine couldn't help but notice a large influx of ones form Japan with their customs tags on them and asked what was inside.

      As for delivery truck drivers our local UPS guys meet up at the local hardware store parking lot and swap deliveries with each other for what ever reason. It's not even them as much as the people who would be hanging around a hardware/convenience store parking lot that would be up to no good. Or the people walking long the street who think something that belongs to them was delivered to your porch by mistake.

      Being out with my boys it's only been unwatched children who have been anything close to a problem.
       
    19. I am nervous about bad neighborhoods for two main reasons.

      1) If you carry your doll around in a large case it looks valuable even to the untrained eye because you have taken the time to protect it. Also, they won't know it's a doll when they try to steal it from you.

      2) My main concern is actually personal safety and doll breakage. I have an SD and if I'm carrying him in my arms I cannot properly defend myself from a potential attacker. This could lead to me getting hurt and the doll getting broken in the resulting struggle.

      Overall, my main worry when I take my doll anywhere is not theft, but damage. I am also a bit worried (even in "nice" neighborhoods) when I take my doll into a store to gauge the scale of something that either a store attendant will think I'm trying to steal a doll of theirs (this more so with my tiny than my SD) or that a child will see it and possibly pull the "that mean adult stole my doll" trick.
       
    20. I honestly think that people should remember that theft is a QUICK thing, so if they don't know what you've got, they're not going to just snatch it- even if it looks like you want to protect it. It could be anything, and they can't afford to take the chance to snatch something only to discover it's a 'worthless' doll. Trust me. I grew up in a 'bad' neighborhood, and I still know people living in it, and, I've had more than my fair share of things stolen from me. Again- I guarentee, no one- not even a Post office worker who sees that your box says 'doll' is going to steal it. I promise. Post Office workers make enough money on the whole that they wouldn't need to go through such a risky operation as stealing to provide a simple toy for their kid. I hate to say it, but even suggesting that says that some people don't have a clear idea of the nature of theft and how it relates to poverty or desperation. Not saying that my idea is any better, but I do know what it's like to be poor to a certain extent, and I also know that theft- while not always related to poverty, usually is unless it's a malicious theft. And in that case, then maybe it's the more expensive neighborhoods you should be worried about.