Monday, October 23, 2006

Cops and robbers

Eight years ago today, burglars broke into my house.

I came home from work for lunch and found my front door standing wide open. Someone had hit or kicked the door with enough force that the deadbolt lock had been ripped away from the door and was hanging from the doorframe.

My house wasn't the only one. Sheriff's office detectives who investigated determined that at least two, probably more, burglars had parked in the driveway between my daughter's house (right in front of mine) and our neighbor's house on the other side of the driveway. First they'd broken the doors on all three houses. At my daughter's house and the neighbor's, they'd helped themselves to TVs, VCRs, microwaves, computers, and everything else they could carry in the bedspreads and blankets they stole right off the beds. They'd pulled mattresses off the beds and dumped the contents of dresser drawers, apparently looking for cash and smaller valuables. They'd even stolen all the meat from the freezers. (I guess all that bashing in doors and running with loot works up a hearty appetite.)

The biggest scare of the day came when we realized our telephone lines had been cut. That made us think the burglars had considered--and weren't deterred by--the possibility that someone was inside one of the homes and might try to call for help. That fact sent chills up my spine. Later, the detectives reassured us that the burglars were most likely trying to cut security system wires rather than the phone lines.

We found a paycheck stub in the grass, and the sheriff's office traced it back to a guy who'd reported his pickup truck stolen that same morning. Other than that, there were no good clues, and nobody was ever arrested and charged with these crimes.

Insurance paid for the items that were stolen and the damage to the doors, less the deductible, of course. The unreimbursable costs were much higher. It took time to file insurance claims, shop to replace the stolen items, take off work while security systems and brand-new doors were installed. There was no compensation for the sleep we lost as we lay awake and listened for unfamiliar noises outside. We didn't get a dime for the sense of security that took months to rebuild.

The one bright spot of the day was that nothing--nada, zip, zilch--was stolen from my house. When I walked through it with the detective, he asked me twice if I was sure nothing had been taken, but everything was exactly like I'd left it that morning. For that bit of good fortune, I take full credit.

You see, I'm not a great housekeeper under normal circumstances, and that week I'd started a new job (the one I have now). My home was in chaos. Laundry was piled up all over the living room, waiting to be folded. Tabletops were covered with haphazard stacks of newspapers, magazines and mail. My bed was unmade, the bedding in a tangled heap I'd created after hitting the snooze alarm one last time.

I'm firmly convinced that any burglar who might have intended to ransack my house took one quick look around and decided that one of the others had beaten him to it.

Rest assured, that powerful anti-theft strategy is still in place. I highly recommend it.

14 comments:

  1. You know, I have a friend who was once a housemate who uses the same anti-theft strategy. A very similar thing happened to her before we were housemates and the detectives were just as puzzled when she kept telling them nothing had been stolen. So I guess if it's working for *two* people, maybe I better consider it!
    Carmon

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  2. Carmon, that's funny. It's a multi-purpose strategy: deters theft AND saves work. How can you beat a deal like that?

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  3. Okay, I have to admit that after taking meds for OCD (Zoloft) one can become lazy so my home is no longer museum clean. I can still tell you were to find anything and everything. Oh, the pen you say? If you wade through the laundry on the floor in the second bedroom and look under the stack of papers to the far left corner of the desk you'll see an empty bag of skittles. the pen is under that. I can tell you where everything is in this house UNTIL I need to find it then I couldn't find it to save my life. I said once that the chain on my wallet isn't a fashion statement, its because I WILL lose that bad boy.

    Having someone break in is frightening and it does disrupt your sense of security for quite some time. When you're home and they come in that security takes so long to get back even when you beat the living crap out of them like I did. I still say he chose the wrong house to break into that night. Idiot! But my sense of security was still dashed big time. I wasn't on OCD meds at the time so I might have just been mad that he walked on my clean floor with his muddy shoes. Looking back, the beating may have been about that. Thank goodness for Zoloft...I think...maybe...I don't know..

    Aussie

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  4. Oh, how awful for you, Velvet! I would have been spooked for a long time. I'm so sorry for your daughter and neighbor, how horrible to have all their things stolen.

    I must admit, on more than one occasion we have walked into our house and my husband has made a comment like "Look we've been robbed - oh, wait it's always like this" or "Nobody would ever rob this place - they would think someone already did." Maybe we should start a security company? ;-)

    PS - My clean, clean desk - NOT so clean anymore. Thanks for the reminder, will have to work on it tomorrow, LOL.

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  5. it makes me very sad to read this post. after a thing like that happens you would have trouble sleeping for a long time.

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  6. My mother has a "way" of letting me know my home isn't the most organized. Now I'm going to tell her it's a anti-theft plan. Hmmm.... I wonder if our home owners insurance will give us a break on our premiums?

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  7. what about the doggies? I imagine you didn't have Kady and Butch back then, but it would have been awful to come home and find the dogs had run away.

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  8. They stole meat? Hey, Joe, after we swing by the pawnshop, let's go over to your place and heat up the grill... THAT adds insult to injury.

    Glad you unique method of anti-theft works for you!

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  9. Austin, good for you for whippin' up on your home intruder. I don't know if I'd be strong enough. Then again, if he tripped over a stack of books or something, I think I could handle him once he was down.

    Sunflower, now you can tell your husband that your family's safety is much more important than any kind of Good Housekeeping award.

    Patsy, it was shocking to see how little difference the locks made. I guess burglars don't have time to pick locks these days.

    Schremsgems, that's a good idea about an insurance deduction.

    Janet, actually we did have Butch and Kadi. At that time they were technically my daughter's dogs. She wanted them to be outside dogs, so they were in the backyard that day, fortunately, out of the way. I used to let them come into my house all the time, and that's how they gradually became inside dogs--and MY dogs. These days, my greatest fear about a break-in is that the dogs might get hurt or get out. I hope that the fierce barking and growling they do when someone strange comes to the door might be enough to persuade a burglar to try a different house.

    Duly Inspired, yep! They stole meat. In fact, they dropped a package of frozen chicken outside my daughter's house, and that's what made me first realize that hers had been burglarized, too.

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  10. LOL! I've been following your anti-theft strategy and didn't even know it! Somebody could break in here, ransack the place, and we wouldn't even notice.

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  11. Kat, don't you feel safer now, knowing you're so well protected?

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  12. Lol Great idea, Velvet ~ Now I have the perfect excuse too!

    Although, on a serious note, the sense of intrusion and violation must have been a nightmare, as you say, its not just a case of insurance replacing the stolen items. It may have been a blessing in disguise that no-one was at home!
    Sandy

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  13. Sandy, it was VERY creepy! And you're right; it could have been much worse if someone had been home.

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  14. Hello fellow bloggers,

    I recently published an article on how security systems work and which are the most effective for your home – here is a quote from it, in case you are interested:

    Talking Security Devices. First these devices have been used mainly for talking, but later on they have been integrated into home security system, along with other facilities like opening the door, turning on the light, and for emergency alert.

    Back-up Power Supply. You don’t want to live in a movie, especially not in a classic thriller where the lights and home security system turn off especially when you need them more. To avoid this protect your house with a back-up supply.

    Smoke Detectors. They add supplementary security to your home. The important thing is to be integrated into your home security and alarm system. These detectors don’t just detect the smoke but they can also help you to escape from a fire in time, at the same time, they cam notify the fire department. Some smoke detector systems have a power supply integrated.

    House or Window Decals and Yard Signs. These are quite harmless signs of a possible existence of home security system in your house; they are posted on visible places, like windows, doors, in the yards etc., to scary, confuse and deter the burglars.

    Wireless Systems. They offer all the protection necessary to your home and you get rid of hiding and masking all those cords, wires and extra outlets (you can never use for other purposes). The parts, spread around your home, communicate with the master control panel through radio frequencies – mostly used together with wireless CCTV cameras .

    Security Services. These services are furnished by companies, which offer you not only the installation but also the maintenance of the system, the monitoring for cases of emergency to alert the police department, fire department, the ambulance, and relocation services for the cases when you move.

    Master Control Panel. It is the central device that collects the information from all the sensors and keypads, and transmits the data to the monitoring companies.

    If you feel this helps, please drop by my website for additional information, such as advice on buying a home security camera or resources on home security alarms .

    Regards,

    Michael

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