Dealing with Theft

Hugh Upsher on coping with loss

By Hugh Upsher

Last week I woke up to a car with no wheels. All four had been stolen the night before. The perpetrators didn't even have the decency to put it up on bricks and instead there was a lone jack propping up one side of my car. 

Theft isn’t a uniquely South African problem, but it is something that many South Africans are quite familiar with. The sooner we learn to effectively deal with it, the quicker we can all move on with our lives.

And I feel fairly well equipped to talk you through these coping mechanisms – none of which include moving to Australia – because before she lost all her wheels, my beautiful Citi Golf had been broken into on several occasions.


Depending on the severity of the theft, denial can be one of the best options. Simply trick your brain into thinking you never had the thing in the first place. I did this very successfully for years on end, each time my car radio face was stolen by complete morons. Unfortunately, this strategy will not work if all four of your wheels have been stolen.


As a man, I’m not afraid to admit that I have a good sob when times get rough. Having a good cry will almost always leave you feeling better afterwards. Try to get it all out before walking into the police station as your tears will only annoy the officer on duty and slow down the proceedings.

Getting it back

This is definitely a long shot, but the South African Police Service does offer crime investigation services free of charge. Reporting the crime with no legitimate leads may seem frivolous, but at least you’re bringing attention to the issue and contributing towards accurate crime statistics for your area. I am yet to receive any updates on any of the cases I've reported, but I’ll keep you guys posted…

Philosophising it

There are two main trains of thought here: “everything happens for a reason,” or “everything is random, and therefore life is meaningless.” Either approach will get you rolling towards moving on. The worst thing you could possibly do is dwell on it by constantly replaying the “why me?” narrative. 

Social Sympathy

If you’re a social media fiend like I am, you’ll know that people love dishing out likes when things are either going really well or really badly. Engagement announcements and hospital visits are equally effective at cranking the over-100-likes mark. By publicising your poor luck with a dramatic photograph, you can, at the very least, rake in all those sympathy likes.

* If, while reading this, you've been wondering whether or not my insurance covered me – the answer is no. If you’re also wondering about the jack that was left behind, that was stolen/collected the following day.