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All she needs is faith and friendship to get by

by Sheila Gardner

What kind of low-life would steal a handbag from a doctor’s office?

That’s what Veronica Pardee would like to know. She sent a letter to the The Record-Courier this week on behalf of the victim, a 71-year-old widow who has been hospitalized for pneumonia, breast cancer and vision problems this past year.

On Dec. 3, the victim was in a Carson City doctor’s office for a post-operative visit when someone stole her purse. Not only did the thief take her handbag, the she lost $200 in Christmas money, credit cards, driver’s license, Medicare and Medicaid identification, car and house keys, checks and family photos.

The purse was grabbed in a quick moment as a friend who drove her to Carson City left the handbag unattended while she checked on her in a treatment room. When the friend returned to the waiting room, she was horrified to discover the purse was missing.

Pardee is incensed that someone would stoop so low to steal a sick person’s money.

“She has basically what she needs. But the money was going to go for presents for her daughters and small thank-yous for the friends who have done things for her,” Pardee said.

Besides losing her nest egg, the woman had to spend precious savings to replace locks in her residence. She had to roundup volunteers to drive her to agencies in Douglas County to replace her stolen credit cards and bank documents, as well as her drivers license and other identification.

“I thought, ‘Why me?'” said the Gardnerville woman, who will remain nameless because she’s feeling a bit vulnerable now. “It’s just that at 71, who wants to re-invent their whole life, and that’s what I have to do. I’ve been stripped of every bit of my identity.”

After the theft was discovered, the woman said staff in the doctor’s office turned the place upside down trying to find her purse. They went through trash cans inside and outside the office and checked everywhere imaginable.

“They couldn’t believe what happened,” she said.

The Carson City sheriff’s office spent 2-1/2 hours at the scene taking information from her.

Before she returned home, a deputy went to her residence to make sure it was secure. She had the locks changed for her house; in fact, the locksmith stayed after hours to complete the job.

She is philosophical about her loss.

“The only reason I had the money saved up was that I spent so much time in the hospital last year, I didn’t have a chance to spend it,” she said.

She said her friend who took her to the doctor’s office feels responsible. The day started out with a flat tire for her friend’s vehicle which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The delay to fix the tire postponed a trip to the post office to pick up the woman’s monthly Social Security check of nearly $800. It would have been in the stolen purse.

“I told my friend it wasn’t her fault, and it could have been so much worse,” she said. “They could have come in and shot her for the money.

“In my mind, these are all material things. I guess somebody needed it more than me, but I don’t think their Christmas is going to turn out too good. This is going to haunt them till the day they die.”

Pardee is hoping that if anyone finds the purse – and the missing cards and checks – that they call her at 782-5143 so she might be able to deliver some good news to her friend.

“Fine, take the money,” Pardee said. “But at least leave her purse where somebody with heart can find it and return her precious photos of family members, her identification, insurance cards, etc.”

A cautionary tale like this makes it kind of tough to close with a reassuring “Yes, Veronica, there is a Santa Claus,” unless you can see the spirit of Christmas embodied in a 71-year-old widow who gets by on Social Security checks, the kindness of friends and a deep and abiding faith.

“I think I have experienced just about everything,” the woman said. “Life is the most important thing. God’s given me a million dollars with all that I have, and I don’t need the money.”