Nob Hill Theft

Elizabeth Kilcoyne
2 min readOct 7, 2021
Family China

Denis returned from getting the luggage from the car, like a man who had seen a ghost. “What happened?” I asked. “Someone broke the window in the car. Glass is everywhere.” My husband Denis and I had flown to San Francisco. My brother Sean was scheduled to undergo surgery in the middle of the pandemic. I don’t remember taking a breath on the plane.

We picked Sean up in Berkeley. Friends were caring for him there. He was severely depressed and fragile. We parked the car on Pine Street in front of Sean’s apartment building on Nob Hill, and let him settle in. The apartment was disheveled after months of illness.

“Your purse is gone.” I stared at him. My purse is gone. Okay. Everything in the purse can be replaced: iPhone, pepper spray, passport. The purse itself, bought from the Marimekko store in downtown Copenhagen, not so simple. My appointment book and writing notebook, impossible. Fortunately, my wallet was in my back pocket, it’s usual place. I will have an ID to leave on the jet plane to go home. No one was hurt.

Denis cringed, “Your carry-on bag with the china is also gone.”

My carry-on bag. “The family china is gone?” I doubled over and tried to scream, but nothing came out. I entered another room, trying not to upset my brother. How could this happen? We’re in a good neighborhood, people on the sidewalks, the car was locked and only for an hour. It would be parked in a commercial garage during our stay. How will I tell my daughter?

After consulting with numerous moving companies, even at $3,000, none would guarantee the safety of the china from Massachusetts to the west coast. I was delivering the china to my daughter one small suitcase at a time. I took a long walk up and down the streets on Nob Hill, imagining how upset my daughter would be, or maybe how distressed I was. Then I began to think how surprised the thief would be when he opened the suitcase. What would a street thief do with a suitcase full of John Maddock-Royal Vitreous china from England? Serve himself afternoon tea or perhaps give his mother china for Christmas? A smile appeared, and I knew it would be okay to return to the apartment.

No one was hurt.