Court Reporters Watch Out. There are Thieves Lurking.
By Rosalie Kramm, CRR
Principal – Kramm Court Reporting, A Veritext Company
In the past two months, I have heard of two court reporters having their gear stolen from their vehicle, one of whom had just reported a deposition where the witness had flown in from a foreign country pursuant to a court order. He testified for three hours. The reporter packed up her gear, left the office complex garage, and drove to a gas station to fill up her tank. As she was pumping gas, a car drove up, a man jumped out, opened her back door, and stole her laptop, steno machine, and depo bag. Just that fast! The court reporter yelled for them to stop, but the thief jumped back into their car and sped off.
The reporter had her cell phone in her hand and took a picture of the license plate and called the police. They asked her to fill out a report via the city website and attach any documents or photos that were applicable. But bottom line, the job was gone.
When I called the attorneys to let them know, this is what they wanted from the court reporter:
Time/location of theft.
Police report. Even if the police don’t want to come out and write up a report, insist that you have the chance to file a report with the police and keep any information about the report number, locale, et cetera. Our clients wanted to follow up and have documentation to prove to the judge the deposition was gone.
Photograph of license plate. Our clients decided to hire a private detective to go after the thieves. Obviously, it might be rare to have the photograph, but any identification of the car, license plate, and thieves would be helpful.
The reporter’s laptop, exhibits and deposition bag probably will never be found again, but few people know what to do with a steno machine. The reporter called the local pawn shops and asked them to let her know if a steno machine, green Luminex, was turned in or someone was trying to pawn a machine.
I did some research regarding thefts at gas stations and found that there is a new kind of thief called a “slider.” The thieves wait for the person to get out of their car to pump gas before sliding into the car. Crouched over, they open the passenger door, steal whatever is there, and slide back out – many times without the driver even noticing.
While it is unfortunate that these things do happen, it is best to be aware that they do and to take the necessary steps to protect our gear. As a best practice, get into the habit of placing all court reporting equipment in the trunk whenever traveling to and from assignments.