Wednesday, April 24, 2019

EASTER, 40, 9...& THE THIEF WHO RUINED IT ALL | PART 2: OUR SIX FLAGS SAGA (& Small Miracles)

Welcome back to Part 2 of our Six Flags saga!  Ugh. I hate that I even have to type that and honestly, I'm exhausted just thinking about typing out this story it's a crazy one so here goes...

I ended Part 1 of our Easter weekend here yesterday.  As a quick recap, we went to church Sunday morning and then headed out to Six Flags to spend the afternoon and celebrate Mason's 9th and Craig's 40th birthday.  How fun that they share a birthday AND it fell on Easter this year, right?!

We arrived at Six Flags super excited about the day.  The weather was GORGEOUS.  Sunny and 78 degrees with a nice breeze.  And the crowds were small which meant short lines on all our favorite rides!  We didn't expect there to be big crowds on Easter and we were right.

The Beginning

We snapped a picture right before heading in.  Not a care in the world on this beautiful day.





We jumped in line for Justice League which is a very cool 4D interactive ride.  I'd never been on it before and if you're familiar with Disney, it was like a mix between Toy Story Mania and Flight of Passage.  So much fun, especially at the end.  
  

This is one of the newer rides at Six Flags and it has a very Disney World feel to it which I loved.


After Justice League, we headed straight to the Batman ride.  This was the boys second time to go to Six Flags but already they were feeling like old pros.  They couldn't wait to get over to the Batman ride, which is one of their favorite roller coasters.

Image result for batman ride at six flags over texas

The line for Batman was so short.  We may have waited 15 minutes.  We were definitely on a high at this point with nothing but short lines and sunshine ahead of us.  So when it was time to get on the ride, I took the little black drawstring bag I was carrying that had Craig's wallet, our season passes, and a little zipper pouch with our sunscreen, some Tylenol, Pepto, bandaids etc in it, and added our hats, sunglasses and cell phones to it as well.

A Gut Feeling

There are black bins right next to where you get off the ride that everyone puts their bags in for the 2-minute duration.  There are signs that say "You are on camera".  There are also signs that say "No refunds or replacements for lost or stolen items" or something very similar to that.  As I went to put our bag in the bin, I hesitated just for a split second.  You only have a few seconds to toss it in and get back in your seat but even still I tried to smush it into a corner where maybe it couldn't be seen as easily.  I had a GUT FEELING, y'all.  I've left our bags before like this but this was the first time I felt something was off.

But since I only had seconds to think about it, I jumped on the ride and off we went.  And the whole time, I kept thinking about our bag.  I was anxious to get back to it.  Yes, there were at least 4 workers standing next to the bins or within feet of it.  Yes, there were signs saying there are surveillance cameras watching.  But honestly, its not going to stop someone from picking up your bag like it's their own and walking calmly away with it.

Once our train arrived back at the beginning, we had to wait for the train in front of us to unload.  And as I was sitting in that seat, I was almost shaking with anxiety about getting back to that bag.  I've never felt like this before or had such a strong premonition about something but it's like I KNEW that bag was not going to be there waiting for me when I got off the ride.

And it wasn't.

And Then It Was Gone

I jumped out of my seat and ran over to the bin immediately and when I saw it wasn't there, it was like slow-motion.  I checked the others, just to make sure someone hadn't moved it and when I saw it was nowhere I told Craig someone had stolen it.  He took off down the ramp in full on security guard mode.  I stayed back and told one of the staff what happened and they quickly told me where the security office was and that they could review the video footage to see if they could get a description of a suspect radioed out to everyone.

At this point, the boys were completely silent and just following along behind us as we ran over to the security office.  I felt so bad that they were having to be part of something like this.  I try to shield them from bad people and bad things as much as possible, and for someone to do this to us on my son's birthday, my husband's birthday and on EASTER...it made my blood BOIL.  And Craig was ready to destroy someone, y'all.

I have never felt as "naked" in public as I did on our way to that security office.  We had no phones, no hats, no sunglasses, no wallet, and no car keys.  We had NOTHING.  I know there are worst things than someone stealing from you but even so, you can't help but feel completely violated.

We passed entrance/exit turnstiles on our way to the office and Craig decided he was going to stand there and watch each person leave.  I don't know what good he thought that was going to do. It's not like this person was going to have our bag slung over their shoulder, just walking around with it.  They either put it in their own bag or they grabbed what they wanted from it and tossed the rest.

So while Craig stood off to the side in his black pants, black tee, arms folded over his chest and a look that could kill on his face, I made my way to the security office to file the report.  At this point, we felt completely hopeless.  We had no ride home because Craig's one and only key to his truck had been stolen.  We had no money because his wallet had been stolen.  And we had no phones to call anyone with.

A Little Miracle

They said they would be reviewing the tape, took all my info, what was stolen, where, when etc and then said they'd contact me when they knew something.  Ummmm how exactly??  THEY HAD OUR PHONES!!  As I was pondering this little dilemma, someone walked into this tiny office behind me and when I turned to see who had come through the door, I did a double take.

One of my very best friends, Dani, (who I talk about all the time on here) walked in and handed me her phone.  Like she'd be there all along or something.  WHAT is happening?!?!  It took me a minute to make sense of even seeing her there, at Six Flags, in this security office, at this exact moment when I was trying to figure out how they could get in touch with me...and she's standing there with her phone out to me without missing a beat.  Not even a hi.  Just walked in and handed her phone to me.  It was surreal, friends.  And I felt like hugging her and crying and smiling and laughing and screaming all at the same time.

I quickly gave the security guy her number to call if there were updates and was also able to use her phone to log in to Find My Phone, check to see if it was on (obviously it wasn't) and lock it down and put it in lost mode. I also went in and locked Craig's debit card easily since Dani also happened to have the same bank as me and had the app on her phone.  Unfortunately, all the other cards would need to be cancelled by calling so I couldn't do anything about those right at that minute.

The guard told us they'd be in touch so we left and went back to the turnstiles where Craig was still glaring at every person who walked by.  Dani told me that her family (hubby-Ben, and their two kids who are Matthew and Mason's ages, Sydnee and Finn) had been at the park and were on their way out when they saw Craig standing there.  He told them what happened and where I was and that's how Dani found me in the office.

But y'all.  What are the odds that one of my very best friends is also at Six Flags that day?  And then, what are the odds that they just happen to be leaving at the exact time Craig is standing there? And what are the odds that they exited off to the right where he was instead of the middle or the left where there is no way they'd all see each other?

GOD SHOWED UP FOR US.  I am 1 million percent convinced that this was a "God thing".  If you aren't a believer, then you'll say it was a coincidence.  But the fact that Craig and I had both been praying nonstop since this happened (even if it was just a running prayer of "Please please please please please please"), just solidified things for me.  Dani and her family were our angels that day.

Dani let me do whatever I needed to do on her phone and the kids played together under a tree next to us which kept them occupied and happy while we tried to figure out what to do.  I called my dad (crying) because I may be 37 but I still call my daddy when I'm scared or need help and he helped me get a plan in place because we were so angry that we just couldn't think clearly.  We were going to call a locksmith to come out and make a key for Craig's truck so we could go home.  My wallet was locked in the truck so we could pay him with that once we were in.  And I could use Matthew's iPad from home to text from.  (Dani and Ben were also offering us all the help in the world at this point too.  They offering up their cell phones to keep while we need it, rides, their debit cards...they are THE BEST.)

So while we were putting this into motion, Dani and Ben offered to take the kids on some rides so their day wouldn't be a complete waste.  And once again, I was so grateful for this sweet friend of mine.  The kids hadn't seen each other since New Years so they were excited.  Dani left me her phone so that I could keep in touch with them by texting Ben, and Craig and I were able to focus more on what the next step would be.

Gotcha

That was when a policeman walked by me. I stopped him and told him what was going on.  He got on his radio and within a few minutes, he was able to show me pictures on his phone of the suspects.  The security office had pulled the video and had pictures of 3 suspects.  Their description had been radioed out to all the employees so everyone was on the lookout.  We hung around for about 15 minutes just waiting to see if they would be found and then we got word that they had been seen walking towards the parking lot and had been stopped by the Arlington PD.  

The policeman and security team members lead us back to the security offices and were just the nicest people ever.  They got us water, offered us M&Ms, joked around with us (now that we were feeling much happier) and when they asked if we were going to press charges, Craig replied with a great big "HELL YEAH!".  hahaha  We were actually asked that 3 separate times by 3 different people and each time, it was met with a "THANK YOU!".  No way were we letting these people ruin our day, steal from us and then get away.

While we waited, a family of 5 walked in.  They were victims also!  Not only did those women steal our bag but they also stole another girl's fanny pack which included all of their phones, car keys, season passes, and wallet with $600 in it!  They had been on the Batman ride also, most likely with us.

Only the kids spoke English so I started chatting with the teenager girl and the younger daughter.  I told her that I just had a gut feeling that this was going to happen when I got on the ride and she said: "So did my mom!!".  The mom didn't speak English but the daughter told her in Spanish what I'd just said and we did our best to communicate our shared gut feelings.

(So on a sidenote:  LISTEN TO YOUR GUT, LADIES!)

We could hear the police questioning what sounded like two women down the hall but couldn't see anything.  We did hear one of them denying that allllll the cell phones in her possession were stolen for a while.  (Seriously?  How can you deny that when they clearly have pictures of other people on the screen?)  We heard one of the cell phones start pinging which is what happens when you turn on a phone that has been put on Lost Mode.  One of the cops questioning her had turned it on and let it ping and ping and ping..just to torture her a little.  When she knew she'd been busted because she couldn't unlock them, she finally had to confess that they weren't actually hers and long story short, after about an hour, we got our phones and our keys back and found out that both girls confessed. 

 Since they had our keys with them when they were walking to the parking lot, it wouldn't be a stretch to say they could have been on their way to find our truck using Craig's key fob and then either stolen it or just grabbed my purse and whatever else they could find in there.  But as for the rest of our stuff, they said they had thrown it all in a trash can by the Batman ride.  So we waited and waited while employees searched the bins for our stuff.

Gone

Unfortunately, we found out that the bins had been emptied and sent to the trash compactor about 40 minutes after this whole mess started.  So nothing was recovered except for our phones, Craig's truck keys and our season passes.  Craig's super expensive sunglasses (that were a gift) were gone.  My expensive (and very favorite) Ray-Bans were gone.  Plus Craig's entire wallet, ID, credit cards, cash and a $300 gift card.  The other family recovered their phones and most of their season passes but that's it.  The money was gone, the wallet was gone (along with the mom's Green Card which made me sad), and their keys were gone.  They were such a sweet family.  I hated that this was happening to them as well.

I wasn't convinced that these criminals had actually thrown away wallets full of cash and credit cards plus expensive sunglasses but we had no way of knowing what really happened.  They were searched, obviously, and none of the other stuff had been found on them.

We were told that both were being arrested and that one of them was an ex-employee of the park.  She was now banned for life and the other girl was banned for 2 years.

Salvaging The Day

And that was that.  There was nothing more to stick around for so they asked us if we would be staying the park for the rest of the day and we said yes.  One of the security guys walked us over to a separate office and handed us six Flash Passes to try to make up for all the time we'd spent dealing with all of this.  It was the nicest gesture and completely unexpected.  We had a little over 2 hours left before the park closed so this was going to come in so handy.

We texted Ben to let them know we were on our way and had our phones and keys back.  In all honesty, the phones and keys were the two most important things to get back so we are beyond thankful that these were what was recovered.  Everything else can be replaced for the most part.

We met up with them near the Texas Giant and found out they'd been having a grand ole time.  And I was once again so grateful that God had placed them there for us.  We didn't see another single soul we knew all day...just my bestie and her sweet, kind, gracious family who just happened to appear out of nowhere at the exact moment we needed someone.  They literally saved Mason's birthday.  That could have been a very miserable 2 hours for my boys.  Watching them try to sit still in a hot, cramped security office with nothing to do for 2 hours while the fun of Six Flags roared around them...and on a birthday...would have caused me major mom guilt.  But that didn't happen because Dani and her family swooped in and took over for us without missing a beat. 

We all rode the Texas Giant and then Dani and her family left while we carried on and were able to jump on 4 more rides before closing time.

Now that my phone was back, I could take pictures!

Mason waiting for his first ride on the Texas Giant. 

Craig and Matthew waiting for our turn on the Riddler.
 

 And I saw one of our new friends come in to check on things while we waited for Mr. Freeze and zoomed in to snap a picture.  This man spent 39 years with the fire department and now loves his retirement job working security at Six Flags.  He told us that he's always out there so anytime we see him from now on to come say hi...and that he's known to hand out Flash Passes to his friends.  ;)  He was one of those salt of the Earth people and we felt blessed to have met him.

  Even with all the turmoil, the boys had a great day...probably even better than they would have if it had just been the four of us all day!  And it was an answered prayer that we were able to get our phones back and Craig's truck so we could go home at the end of the day.  Albeit a little poorer.  ;)

Image result for a very present help

My mom says I should start a prayer journal to document all the prayers I pray and the answers to them.  (Even when the answer is no.)  I'll just add this link to that journal entry though.  I know this is sooooo long!  But I really wanted to document it all.  So if you're still reading this...thank you!  But if you aren't, or you've just skipped to the bottom here, I'm sorry!  But I wrote this out as much for me as for you.  Even though this was a totally crappy way to spend Easter and 2 of my boys' birthdays, it is a day that I'll remember forever.  

The Aftermath

Well, unfortunately, we were right when we questioned whether or not they were lying when they said they dumped the wallet and the rest of our stuff in a trashcan.  Craig's credit card was used once at a gas station near Six Flags later that night and his business debit card was used a few times as well.  Clearly, there was a third person involved who was able to get away.  And probably has my favorite sunglasses.  

He's also got to go stand in line at the DMV for hours in order to get a new license.  And who has time for that?!

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The Takeaway

So yes, we've learned our lesson the hard way, friends.  You cannot trust people.  We will obviously NEVER bring a bag with us to Six Flags unless we are renting a locker as well.  But a couple of tips if you do choose to bring one and not rent a locker...

1.  Make it a BIG bag.  Little ones and fanny packs can easily be slipped inside a bigger bag.  Big bags are much harder to steal because they are hard to hide.
2.  Keep the valuable stuff to a minimum.  Next time we'll bring cash only and it'll stay in our pocket along with our 1 car key.
3.  Leave your fancy sunglasses and favorite hat at home.  Just in case.
4. Are cargo shorts still in?  Because they would be awesome to help carry your stuff around in.
5..  If you do have anything stolen, report it to the security office IMMEDIATELY.  Make sure they review the footage if there is any and get the suspect's description out ASAP.  The biggest mistake these two thieves made was not leaving the park as soon as they swiped our stuff.  If they had, we would never have found them.

And I can't end this without a huge shoutout to our new friends who work security at Six Flags Over Texas as well as the Arlington PD.  They were AMAZING.  So kind, so helpful and obviously pretty good at their job.  I'm sure the jerks who stole our stuff will most likely just get probation unless they have prior arrests (which they do, I think) but I hope this whole thing has been a giant headache for them as well. I hope they are just as annoyed by all of this as we are. I hope they are stressing about it and losing sleep.  Because we did.  I also hope they had to pay a lot to bail themselves out of jail.  But most importantly, I hope they realize that it's NOT WORTH IT.  And that they straighten themselves out before they get too in too deep.

I also want to add that on the way home, a girl in a mini cooper came zooming up behind us on the interstate going almost 100mph...while texting/looking at her phone!  We both said something to each other about it after she zoomed by and then we watched in horror as she drifted from the left lane onto the shoulder and was within INCHES of smashing into the concrete divider before she jerked her car back.  I am convinced she hit the divider a tiny bit but Craig thinks she jerked the wheel just in time.  Regardless, we almost witnessed a horrible wreck and it was another miracle that she didn't crash. And do you think she slowed down after that?  Nope.  She kept up her 100 mph speed and we lost sight of her after that.

Needless to say, we were ready to get home to the safety of our beds.

Although, we did make time for...



CAKE!  It was a bittersweet ending to our Easter Sunday and the boys' birthdays.  But we did our best to make it sweeter.


PS:  Did I ever tell y'all my story about the other miracle that happened to me?  When I lost my engagement ring in the ocean??  I can't remember so I'll have to tell that one soon for those of you who love true stories about real miracles! :)

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14 comments

  1. Amy Azza8:21 AM

    Oh Amanda.. I'm so so sorry this happened to you and your sweet family.. and on Easter and Mason and Craig's bday. There are some horrible people in the world and it's hard to believe because you are so good and would never do that. I think it's good that your kids saw that firsthand but also saw God's saving grace in the form of your friend Dani. It's a great reminder that God is always with you. I am glad you got your keys and phones back and I will continue to pray for you and your family. xoxoxo

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  2. Bless you- so sorry this happened. Why do people suck so bad? But MOST people rock and you had lots of great people helping you.

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    1. You are so right! Most people are awesome...which is why I went into the day feeling like I could leave my bad behind for 2 minutes! haha The bad people just ruin it for everyone. :(

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  3. Unfortunately, you are right...they will probably get probation at most (if they even show up to court!). This makes me burn with anger for you; people who steal are the worst. Especially people that work in a ring like this..they for sure passed most of your stuff off to someone that is probably the leader of the pack and gets to skate by while the girls take the fall for him. It does feel so violating! The good news is that you made the most of your day. By enjoying the rest of your day, you showed the boys that even when crappy stuff happens..the best thing to do is bounce back!

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  4. The whole "God thing" with Dani made me cry. Thank you God!!

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  5. Girl! That is awful - I am so sorry! I have been robbed before and know that vulnerable, naked feeling you are talking about. It's terrible. I'm so happy you were able to get the important things back and salvage the day.

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  6. Anonymous12:29 PM

    That is awful!! I’m sorry that happened to you! Is it a requirement to put the bags in a bin for the ride? I’ve never seen that at an amusement park—-granted it’s been 10-15 years since I’ve been to one.

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    1. They have lockers that you can rent but if you choose to carry around your stuff (which is probably more than half the people at the park) you cannot bring bags, phones, hats or even fanny packs on most of the intense roller coasters. So yes, you have to put them in the bins if you have stuff like that with you. At Disney World, most of the rides had bags secured to the actual seat in front of you where you could stow your stuff so you never had to leave it. But the rides at Six Flags are 10 times bigger and better so I guess its just not safe to do it that way? It's the last time we'll bring a bag of any kind with us though for sure. :(

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  7. Amanda Nall12:23 AM

    What a story! I'm so sorry that happened to you. You were smart to react so quickly and get the important stuff back, but I'm sorry about Craig's wallet and all the fallout of cancelling things. It's just amazing that Dani was there to help save the day and keep it from being a complete disaster for the boys. I don't know how you held it together, but l think you were operating on a Higher Power all day. Even in the chaos, fear and disappointment l think you were granted grace in so many ways...from finding your friend Dani, meeting the other family, getting so much support from the park staff and police...and getting back the most essential items! (You also called the right guy for help!)��

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    Replies
    1. Thank you!! By the way, I'm so confused! Is your name Amanda Nall too??? I did a double take when it said this comment was from Amanda Nall!

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  8. What a story!!! I am so thankful you guys got your keys and phones back!! What a nightmare, I will def make note of this next trip we take!

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  9. Awww! Happy to help, friend!! Love you and your family!

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  10. Anonymous5:03 AM

    Hello! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and
    tell you I truly enjoy reading through your posts. Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same
    topics? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete

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