Jeep robculture blog.jpg

The author and his Jeep during a trip to the Rocky Mountains. The bug deflector on the hood broke off while clearing the Jeep of snow following a storm this past winter.

Rob Earnshaw, The Times

Recently the Michigan City Police released a statement that four Jeeps had been stolen in the city with two more attempted thefts. Police could not determine if there was a group targeting Jeeps in particular, but it doesn't appear to be a random act as it's happened at different locations in the city.

Jeeps taken were mid 1990s to early 2000 models. 

I have a Jeep Wrangler in that timeline. Although I don't live in Michigan City, I imagine if the Jeep well runs dry there the thieves may expand their thievery in the Region. 

I have a few notes for them.

If you steal my Jeep, you will have trouble moving the stick shift in reverse. Sometimes it just doesn't want to. Like a fat, stubborn dog that won't budge. There's a trick to it, but I can't tell you. Just like I can't tell people about the liquor store near me that always has Three Floyds Zombie Dust in stock. 

The engine light will come on. It could be a loose gas cap. It could be nothing. It could be something. The "check gauges" light may come on as well. When that happens the battery gauge drops to nothing. You could be driving on borrowed time. Maybe it's just some electrical tomfoolery. Because the remote for the garage door opener does not work while the Jeep is running. I have to turn off the engine in order for the remote to open or close the door. 

Sometimes the engine and gauge lights are on at the same time. So there's that anxiety. 

If you need to turn on the heater or air conditioner (Region weather dictates that you never know on any given day), the blower might not be working. You just have to open the hood and tap the blower motor with a little hammer or tool. There will still be an unfamiliar noise coming from under the hood. I'm not sure what that is. The same goes for another noise that is coming from the rear of the vehicle. 

The Jeep has been through a lot. I drove it to the West Coast several years ago. One of the hood latches broke off during the journey, but otherwise there were no incidents. There were a lot of stops at gas stations. Jeep Wranglers get bad gas mileage. And because mine has larger tires than most Jeeps, it makes for even worse gas mileage, I'm told. And if it's real windy while driving on the expressway, it feels as if you're steering a cardboard box. 

This is my second Jeep. My first new vehicle purchase was a 1995 Jeep Wrangler. A black Jeep with a soft top and stick shift. I was inspired to buy it after the one Bailey drove on the Fox television show "Party of Five." I thought it was cool. 

A girl I liked at Sears, where I worked, didn't think so. When I took her for a ride in it she looked over the dashboard and the lack of amenities said "there's nothing here." My heart sank. 

It might be time for a brand new Jeep. But I now have a new battery, starter and alternator. The "Holy Trinity" if you well. So I think I'll hold onto it a little longer. The benefits outweigh the negatives in owning a Jeep — even for an older one.

In fact, there are so many benefits that I'll save them for a future blog post. I'm sure most Jeep owners are already aware of these benefits. Probably ones I wave to while driving through the Region. It's Jeep thing. 

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Rob covers urban affairs and other matters in Crown Point, St. John, Winfield and beyond. Previously he covered Valparaiso, Hammond, Gary and East Chicago. He's also written for various magazines and pens a culture blog for The Times.